So let’s talk about jars. A canning jar is a glass jar that is designed to be used over and over. It is designed to be boiled and pressured. A canning jar has a universal screw top. You can switch up brands of canning jars or canning jar tops and the jars, lids and bands will all fit each other.
Canning jars are wonderful! Even for dry good storage, it is such a convenience that they all have the same lids! (I hate searching and searching for lids that fit.) Of course they are glass, but they are among the most durable glass made for consumers. They can also be dropped and almost always survive.
“They” say to only use actual canning jars. “They” say that other jars aren’t designed for the high temperatures of canning or for being reused. “They” say that when you use other jars, they might not seal. Well, they’re right, technically. They have to say that for liability reasons.
Now it’s my turn to say that for liability reasons. Here it goes: don’t use jars for canning that aren’t canning jars. It could be dangerous. The jars could shatter in the process since they are not designed for home canning. They might not seal. If they don’t seal properly, you could die from the bacteria. Now that you have read my warning, you can read what I am about to say…
You can reuse non-canning-jar jars. It may be risky (see above) but it can be done.
Classico Tomato Sauce comes in jars that have the universal canning jar size top. Their website says not to reuse them. (See the dangers above.) All I am saying here is that they have the same universal top. I have one. I have used it for water bath canning. Make your own decision.
Miscellaneous glass jars that have matching metal tops will usually reseal if subject to the same conditions as canning-jar jars. They are not manufactured for reusing. (See dangers above.) Know that pressure canning is a lot harder on jars than water bath canning. Make your own decision. This e-how post (see #5) actually says that you can reuse these jars for water bath canning. As of yet, this has been the only place that I have ever found something official saying that it’s OK to reuse non-canning-jar jars.
Actual canning jars come in two varieties: wide-mouth and regular mouth. The wide-mouth jars are wider at the top. The theory is that they are easier to clean than the regular mouth canning jars. They are also more expensive, both initially and for the replacement lids or replacement lids and bands. I own a few wide mouth canning jars. They were in the house when we moved here. I have not used them yet since it is so much more money for the lids and bands. Make sure that if you undergo a canning project that you have enough lids and bands of the correct size to go with the correct jars.
Actual canning jars come in many different sizes. Jelly jars are usually eight ounces. There is also pints and quarts. There are also half gallon jars, but I personally have not read anything about these with the exception of for dry good storage. If you know of using these half gallon ones for canning, please do let me know.
The main companies that make actual canning jars (that I know about) are Ball, Kerr and Golden Harvest. The majority of canning jars are made by these companies.
Canning jars are usually sold by the case of twelve. They are sold initially with the bands and lids. I am still looking for where they have the best deal on them.
Dollar Tree sometimes sells pint canning jars. Although you can most likely find a dozen pint canning jars for less than $12.00 for a case, it may be worth the investment there if you only wanted to can a few jars to try.
I have personally yet to find them at a garage sale. My little house on the prairie did come with about four dozen actual canning jars in the basement. Canning jars wash up easily and well. I am grateful for these. (Or I guess I could say that I bought some really expensive jars and they came with a free house.)
Do you have a stash of jars? Where did you get them?
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