Canning season is fast approaching, so I thought I’d share some of the ways in which I save money on canning jars.
1. Garage Sales
I live in a rural area, so I often run into jars at garage sales. These can usually be had very cheaply. Just last weekend I bought over 4 boxes of jars for $20. These boxes contained well over 60 jars (mostly jelly jars which is what we really needed), rings and lids (brand new still in boxes). Plus the boxes also contained 4 antique canning jars with zinc lids, which I collect, so I was really excited to see!
2. Family and Friends
Check with family and friends who use to can to see if they still have jars they’re no longer using. I got quite a few this way from my Mom (plus a lot of other canning stuff), when I first started canning. I’d also post a notice at church or ask around church to see if anyone had any to offer. Most of the time you can get these jars for free or very little cost.
Post a notice on your local Freecycle group. I got a lot of jars this way for free, all I had to do was go pick them up. Because of gas prices, I took in consideration how many jars a person was offering and how far I had to drive to get them. If they were pretty close, I’d go get whatever they had to offer, but if they were farther away, I’d just go get larger quantities.
4. Recycle Jars
I often reuse mayonnaise jars and other commercial jars that my rings and lids fit on. I only use them in water bath canning, as I’m afraid they will shatter in the pressure canner. My Mom has done this for years and it works really well. This is how I get a lot of my jelly sized jars and also my hot sauce jars.
5. Thrift Stores and Flea Markets
I occasionally can find canning jars at our local thrift stores and flea market. They cost a little more generally than all the above ways, but are still cheaper than buying new.
Watch out for canning jars on clearance at Walmart toward the end of the canning season. Last year, I picked up quite a few boxes, rings and lids for pretty cheap. I found all the canning stuff on clearance there around the end of the summer and September & October. I grabbed what I thought I could use and what I could afford. I got jars, pectin, rings, lids, a big water bath canner, jelly bags, and a couple of other things then while on clearance.
Some Safety Concerns:
Any time you re-use jars or rings, you should do the following:
Check The Jar Opening for Chips.
Do not use any canning jars that have chips on the openings, as they may not for a good seal and the food can spoil. Save these jars for storage or for gift items like mixes and such.
Check The Jars for Hairline Crack and Such.
If they have any cracks, don’t use them for canning as they may explode while canning or again, let the food spoil.
Check Your Rings for Rust.
If they have a lot of rust, don’t reuse them. A little rust is fine, but if they’re heavily rusted, toss them.
NEVER Reuse Lids!
They may not reseal properly causing food to spoil. Lids are cheap…use a new one every time.
Whenever You Open a Jar, Smell The Food and Check for Any Strange Textures or Colors.
If you have any questions about food in a jar, it’s safer for you family to toss the contents than get food poisoning from it.
Well I hope this helps some of you will find some cheap and usable jars for your canning needs! It’s quickly approaching time for me to start making Prickly Pear & Mesquite Bean jellies, so I’ve personally been stocking up on my jelly jars. I’m going to probably be making well over 100 jars of jelly this year. We ran out last year really quickly and so I’ve made it a goal this year for me to put up enough jelly for the entire year, plus to have some to give away to family and friends. I’m also going to try to put up about the same number of jars of salsa. Wish me luck 🙂
Susan Godfrey is a Christian wife, mom and homemaker. She shares homesteading, gardening and country living articles. http://www.homesteadersheart.blogspot.com