Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mason Jar Regret

I have only really canned once in my life.  I made a ton of applesauce and peaches and canned them in a water bath, even though I know they don't have enough acid and should have been done in a pressure cooker.  But I wanted to be the person who canned a ton of food every year and put it up for the winter months.  People who knew me thought I was the girl who canned.  So they gave me their mason jars.
I got my mom's old jars that hadn't been touched in twenty years.  I got my grandparents' old jars that hadn't been touched in forty years.  I got random jars (not mason jars) from random people who thought I might like them.  And, of course, I bought a bunch of my own.

What ended up happening?  Our cabinets were full to the brim with jars in some state or another.  Many were cracked, caked in dust, with dessicated insects in the bottom of them.  Every time you opened a cabinet, an avalanche of jars would descend upon you.  One day, *B* said they had to go.
So we sorted through them and kept twelve half gallon jars, twelve quart jars, twenty-four pint jars, and whatever jars already had things in them.  The rest were donated or recycled as appropriate.  That seemed like enough jars that I could put up some food if I wanted to.  That's probably the amount of food that we'd be capable of putting up in any given season.

But then...

We decided we wanted to start getting rid of plastic containers.  *B* uses tupperware-type containers to take his food to work.  We microwave in those containers.  What kinds of things were leaching into our food?  We had some Pyrex containers, but not nearly enough for what we needed to store.  I tend to cook in bulk and put the rest of the food in the freezer.  We talked about buying more Pyrex as we could afford it if they were on sale.  And then it hit me:  we should be using mason jars.

I had black bean soup, taco filling, "garbage" soup, and ham and bean soup that needed to be frozen right now and in single or double serving portions.  I pulled out the jars that were in our pantry and got them washed up.  Almost immediately, all of our pint jars were full.  I looked at *B* and he looked at me, and we both realized something terrible.  We need more mason jars.

It seems so wasteful that we had them and got rid of them.  But it's not like we threw them in the trash.  Those that were still in good condition likely went to someone who needed them.  Those that were in bad condition went to be made into new bottles.  And even if we end up buying more mason jars, they'll be cheaper than the Pyrex were were planning to buy.

The first time I put mason jars in the freezer, I did so with broth in half gallon jars.  The jars shattered because I must have filled them too much.  This time I did test jars in the freezer to make sure I wouldn't destroy them, but we had no issues, so I froze all of them.

These are our mason jars in the freezer.  They're labeled in tape and sharpie because real labels are expensive and hard to remove.  For some, I got the plastic caps designed for storage.  Others have the standard canning lids on them.  And a few have tin foil lids because I didn't have enough.  Those will be eaten first.


  1. I love seeing all your jars lined up nicely. We still use plastic but are slowly creeping toward jars. I love them in the pantry.

    Did you know they make straight-sided jars that are less likely to break in the freezer? There are some tall ones that are somewhere between a pint and a quart.

    I've started saving the lids from my canned goods to reuse for general food storage (not canning!). I also love those white lids that you had.

  2. I love it, too. Most of the half gallon jars are in the pantry, and it makes me smile when I see it :o)

    I have seen (and used to have) some of the straight sided jars. I have a hard time having jars of different types, though, so I kept the ones that I had more of. I'm just kind of weird about things being the same. In hindsight, I should have thought that through a little more, but it's okay as long as I leave enough headroom.

    The white lids are actually made by Ball. I went to buy the rings and lids at Southern States and they were right there next to them.