Canning Jar, can we use recycled?

Canning jars have evolved over the years and what you can do with them has, too. Many common questions are answered here with safety and best practices included at

Can I reuse jars from other products as a canning jar?

I get this question quite often.  Now for the debate.... many canners want to know if you can reuse jars from store bought products. You know the ones from jelly, pickle, or mayonnaise. There are differing opinions on this. Some say absolutely not. Some say it is ok for a water bath only.

Here are my cautions with this.

  • There is always a higher risk of breakage, so as I said the sturdier canning jars are better.
  • Recycled food jars will sometimes have a thinner rim on the jar so the risk of a failed seal is higher as well. Be sure to check your seal before storage. Check it again when you pull the jar to use it. Do not use the food if the seal is not intact.
  • DO NOT use them in a pressure canner.
  • Be sure your lids will fit correctly. The screw band must fit the threads of your jar and the sealing compound must fit to the edges of your jar.

My opinion is.... If you have standard canning jars available they should always your first choice. Kerr, Mason, Jarden or Ball are some brands available.  Golden Harvest is another brand available and are usually a good price. If they are labeled one of these they should work. 

One brand I'd suggest you stay away from is the Mainstay brand.  I don't have any personal experience with them but I've seen many many comments about them being poor quality.  A lot of breakage happens with these jars. 

Here is a quote from the NCFHFP.  Please note they suggest use ONLY with ACID foods. i.e.: items that go in a water bath.  AND note they do suggest expecting higher failure rates.  I'd just as soon skip the failure rates and stay with mason jars.  NCFHFP 

What about the nice Classico Jars?

Classico Jars they are nice and thick, they seem just as heavy if not heavier than mason jars... but the company says, No, do not reuse these for home canning.  Bummer... but this is what they say on their  website.  Just saying.... 

Can I reuse the Classico® jar for home canning?
No. A coating is applied at the glass plant to reduce scratching and scuffing. If scratched, the jar becomes weaker at this point and can more easily break. This would increase the risk of the jar breaking when used for canning. Also, the lighter weight of our current jar could make it unsafe for home canning.  Classico FAQ 

What about  baking in canning jars?

Baking in a canning jar…. is it safe? 

Jarden the manufacturer of Ball, Kerr, and Bernadin canning jars official position  is oven canning, heating jars in the oven for canning, or using jars to bake is unsafe and not recommended. 

The jars were not made for this purpose. The unsafe condition is what is call Thermal Shock Breakage. The heat from an oven is a different heat than what is produced in a water bath or pressure canner. 

The breakage can occur during the heat process inside the oven or outside on the counter as they cool. This breakage could be anything from a crack in the glass where shards may be deposited into the jar and not observed by the canner or baker and end up in your food, to a full break of the jars possibly happening during handling and filling with your recipe. 

So if you choose to bake those scrumptious looking little desserts in canning jars.... just be aware of the issues.  

Then there are beautiful heirloom antique jars.  

Be careful of the very old vintage or antique canning jars.  You know the ones with the bubbles in the glass, tinted a lovely blue or purple.  These might be better off used as decorations or storing dry items.

Old jars are fine, in fact are often sturdier than the newest ones you can buy now.  But the really old ones use caution.  Personally I don't trust the very old pretty ones in my pressure canner.

Canning Jars sizes

There are several variety of jars.  First let's talk about the opening.  There are two common sizes: wide and narrow mouth. 

Wide mouth jars have openings about 3 inches in diameter. Regular mouth or standard mouth are about 2 3/8 inch diameter.

Quart, pint and half pints are the sizes available and used most commonly for canning.

Half gallon jars can only be used for canning high acid fruit juices.  There are no safe recommendations for other foods. 

There are gallon jars sold, but I don't know of anything that can be safely canned in them. They make great storage jars!

And if you make your own baby food there are some teeny tiny extra small 4 oz jars that are perfect.

Pretty decorative jelly jars are available if you are making jellies or jams. These are nice especially if you are giving them as gifts.

Here is an image of some of my orange marmelade.  It is hard to see in the image but there are pretty embossed flowers and fruits on these.  The problem with these... you have to find them used. I don't know of any company making these anymore. They are my favorite! So pretty. Check e-bay. 

Currently the jam and jelly jars being made are usually a quilted pattern... which is very nice too but not nearly as pretty as the embossed variety.  :) 

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Questions from my inbox.

Question: I bought brand new Mason quart jars for canning cherries. Some of them have semi circle hair line looking cracks at the bottom of the jar.   Are they low quality? I already canned several quarts of cherries with these jars. I hoped to be able to reuse these jars for many years.

Sharon's answer: 

As long as your jars are 'mason' jars they should be good to use for many years with normal use. I am sure that some jars are better quality that others. 

I think I know what you mean when you see a "hairline crack". Unless the jar is leaking (this would obviously mean that it is indeed a crack) these lines are most likely a seam or something from when the jar was made. 

Personally I don't have a preference. I buy most of my jars used so they are a mix of different brand names. I do notice that older jars tend to be stronger and have a thicker glass. At least that is my impression. 

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