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Mason Jars and Canning Supplies

Canning Supplies & Equipment Essentials

Using bulk food canning supplies has the potential to save costs and reduce prep time while delivering the perfect taste of freshly picked fruits and vegetables year-round. Canning equipment and accessories are versatile enough to be used by small stores preserving signature jams and jellies as well as large restaurants storing soups and stews.

Ball canning jar of jelly next to raspberries and a mango

How to Can Food

  1. Food is placed into glass canning jars and sealed using lids and bands. A small area of space between the food and the lid called headspace is left empty.
  2. Jars are placed into a canner and cooked, or processed, to kill bacteria.
  3. Contents in jars start to expand, causing a pressure difference between the jar and the area outside of it.
  4. Gasses vent from the jar creating a vacuum seal that does not allow air to enter the jar, thus preventing the food from spoiling.

Expert Tip

To ensure all food remains safe and does not spoil, it is important to follow all recipes exactly without variation. Changing any ingredient in a recipe can potentially cause the acidity level to change, which may cause spoilage and inedible products.

Two jars of canned apple juice next to cutting board with apples

How to Store Canned Food

In order to avoid harmful toxins and bacteria from entering your processed jars, it is important to make sure they are being stored properly. Most lids and jars will keep food shelf stable for at least 12 to 18 months when stored properly, but it is always best to follow manufacturer recommended guidelines.

Avoid direct sunlight 

Food in processed jars can degrade in nutrient value over time if exposed to direct sunlight

Avoid stacking jars

Jars should not be stacked on each other as the weight of the top jar can unseal the lid of the bottom jar

Store without bands

Bands can trap moisture, causing rust and bacteria growth, and can prevent you from noticing unsealed jars

Label and date every jar

In order to ensure you are identifying properly rotating product, always label and date every jar after it is processed and ready for storage

How to Store Canned Food After Opening

After opening, shelf life on canned food varies but usually will last between a few days to a few weeks depending on the food item. Most opened jars can be stored in a refrigerator just as long as factory-made items but should always be stored without the bands as they can trap moisture which causes rust. Food can be transferred to a food storage container or can be stored in the jar with a reusable lid.

Types of Canning Jars

Picking the best style of canning jar to use is often a personal preference and depends on the final look you want for your product. All jars are versatile and have a wide variety of uses beyond canning. Jars can be used for crafts, hobbies, and beverage glasses but can also be used as decor, such as vases and candle holders. Most types of jars will come in both regular mouth and wide mouth sizes.

Traditional Ball canning jar filled with red and green peppers

Traditional

  • Clear with the manufacturer’s logo raised on the glass
  • Feature measurement gradations on the side

Quilted Ball canning jar filled with orange marmalade

Quilted

  • Feature a raised diamond-like texture
  • Provides extra grip while adding a sophisticated look

Two spiral Ball canning jars filled with pea soup

Spiral

  • Features a spiral texture
  • Adds a unique pattern and enhanced grip

Aqua Ball canning jar on table with cherries, a peach, and jar of canned peach slices

Aqua

  • Made of blue tinted glass
  • Provide an old fashioned look

Amber Ball jar with lid

Amber

  • Blocks out 99% of UV light
  • Allows food to last longer

Frequently Asked Questions

Can any mason jar be used for canning?

No, not all mason jars are able to be used for canning. Jars need to be specifically manufactured for canning so they are sturdy enough to withstand the internal vacuum seal without breaking. Using improper canning jars can result in glass breakage and product loss. When in doubt, double check manufacturer literature and instructions.

Can you freeze mason jars?

Yes, some mason jars can withstand freezing. In order to avoid potential shattering, only use jars specifically designed to go into the freezer. Leave half an inch of headspace to allow for expansion of food.

Can you microwave mason jars?

Yes, glass mason jars by themselves can be microwaved for short periods of time, if needed. Since the jars are glass, they will absorb heat in the microwave, making it potentially dangerous to touch with bare hands. Always use caution when handling hot items. Lids and bands should never be microwaved, since they are made of metal.

Types of Canning Jar Lids

Canning lids come in two main styles - regular mouth and wide mouth. Every lid will feature a solid, rubber seal on the underside that creates the vacuum seal when processed. On the top of the lid, there is a small raised circle that will invert when the jar is properly processed.

2 3/4

Regular Mouth Lids

  • Diameter: 2 3/4"
  • Perfect for jams, jellies, and thinner sauces
  • Best for foods with smaller chunks

3 3/8

Wide Mouth Lids

  • Diameter: 3 3/8”
  • Perfect for thick soups, stews, and whole fruit
  • Accommodates larger utensils

Can you reuse canning lids?

No, always start with a brand new lid for safety, as lids should never be reused. Before canning anything, always check the rubber seal on every lid. Discard any seals that are broken or look irregular. Bands can generally be reused as long as they are still in good condition and are not rusty. Processed jars should always be stored without bands as they can trap moisture and can make unsealed jars look sealed.

Commercial Canning Equipment

There are two types of canning methods: water bath canning and pressure canning. Each method has their equipment and is better suited for some types of foods than the other.

Ball water bath canner with rack

Water Bath Canning

Water bath canners are essentially giant pots that can hold multiple jars at once. Once the jars are added with an additional 1" to 2" of water over the top of the jars, the water is brought to a rapid boil. The jars process for at least ten minutes but can process longer depending on the recipe. The boiling process, coupled with the acidity of the contents, will safely preserve the food.

  • Easier to use than a pressure canner
  • Faster than pressure canning

High Acidic Foods: most fruits, pickles, some vegetables like tomatoes

Pressure canner with lid off and four jars inside

Pressure Canning

Pressure canners work similar to a pressure cooker by creating a high internal pressure from steam. After loading the jars into the canner, either twist the lid shut or use its wing nuts to lock it. Once the water inside is brought to a boil, pressure builds from the water evaporating into steam. The jars will process at a specific pressure and time depending on altitude. This increased pressure can better destroy harmful toxins, meaning it is the only option for canning low acidity foods.

  • Can be used to can all types of items, not just acidic foods
  • Uses less water than water bath canners

 Low Acidic Foods: meats and seafood, most vegetables, most soups and stews

What Size Canning Jar Should I Use?

Determining the right size jar to use is important as jar size can affect processing time. Smaller jars can process faster than larger jars. Additionally, it is important to consider what is going into the jars. Thicker foods as well as anything with larger chunks will usually work better in wide mouth jars as opposed to regular mouth, as it is easier to scrape out the contents.

Two Ball canning jars filled with peaches

Regular Mouth Jars

  • 4 oz. (Quarter Pint) - Jams and jellies, condiments and sauces
  • 8 oz. (Half Pint) - Jams and jellies, preserves, pizza sauce
  • 12 oz. - Jams and jellies, relishes, sauces
  • 16 oz. (Pint) - Sauces, thinner soups, sliced vegetables
  • 32 oz. (Quart) - Fruits and vegetables, pickles, soups

Two Ball canning jars filled with tomato sauce

Wide Mouth Jars

  • 16 oz. (Pint) - Salsas, sauces, fruit-based butters
  • 24 oz. - Pickles, thick soups and stews, sauces
  • 32 oz. (Quart) - Fruits and vegetables, soups and stews
  • 64 oz. (Half Gallon) - Fruit juices

Commercial Canning Supplies

There are a number of food canning supplies and accessories that can be used to streamline your canning operation, make the process easier, and help maintain proper food safety. Here are a few recommended items that you may need to add to your canning supplies list.

Black and silver jar lifter lifting a jar from a canner

Jar Lifters

Perfect for moving hot jars to and from the canner

Person funneling tomatoes into a canning jar

Funnels

Help prevent spills and messes while filling jars with food

Person using bubble remover in a canning jar

Bubble Removers

Collapse any air pockets that could prevent the jar from properly sealing

Person using a lid lifter

Lid Lifters

Contain a small magnet on the end to easily extract lids from hot water

Person using a red canning wrench

Wrenches

Provide an easy way to tighten and loosen lids, ensuring a tight seal

Glass bowl filled with pectin

Pectin

Gels and thickens liquids to the perfect consistency for jam, jelly, and marmalade

4 lb. box of Morton canning and pickling salt

Canning & Pickling Salt

Creates a clear brine that is used to pickle foods

AvaTime digital kitchen timer

Kitchen Timers

Ensure that jars are processed for the precise time required

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