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Using Canning Jars in the Freezer

March 6th, 2010

I like to use wide mouth canning jars for freezing vegetables, soups and stocks. Wide mouth canning jars are much cheaper than the glass containers you buy for freezing and food storage. Generally you can get them for less than a dollar a piece, which makes them an economical option if you’re wanting to move away from plastic when it comes to food storage because of BPA and chemicals leeching into food. It can be a bit pricey to replace all your plastic with pyrex, but at about $10/dozen, canning jars are a less expensive option.

You may worry about freezing in glass because of the possibility of breakage, but there are a few things you can do to minimize this chance. Do not fill jars all the way, most wide-mouth canning jars have a “freeze fill line” marked on the side of the jar. Using smaller jars also helps, with less liquid you don’t have to worry as much about expansion and the possibility of breaking the jar. The larger the jar the more expansion room you’ll need to allow. I freeze in jars often and have only had a broken jar once, it was my fault for filling it too full and not allowing enough expansion room. (another note, make sure the stock or veggies are cold before putting into freezer)

I prefer using half-pint and pint jars since they’re small and for a family of 2 they’re the perfect size. When I freeze chicken stock I reduce the stock to double strength and freeze in pints, this means each pint of stock is actually a quart, I simply add an extra pint of water to the recipe. This helps saves on freezer space and allows me to use the smaller pint jars.

Another reason I like using canning jars is because I can save my used lids and give them second life. I hate one-use items, it feels to wasteful so throwing them away. I have a box in the basement with canning lids that didn’t get too bent during opening. By doing this I don’t have to have tons of the plastic one piece lids around either, which can be expensive and they take up more space. Using glass jars also keeps me from using plastic zipper bags for items like corn & beans. Every time I can use a reusable glass jar instead of plastic is happy day for me.

What’s your container of choice when it comes to the freezer? Have you ever used canning jars for freezing?

92 Comments to “Using Canning Jars in the Freezer”
  1. Janet Anderson on January 21, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    This is great, thanks. Do you have a chest freezer or one with shelves? Once frozen are the jars likely to break if the bump together – say if you were rummaging through your chest freezer and knocked them?

    I love this idea just not sure if I should freeze the jars in the box witht he dividers between or if they are good stacked together.

    Thanks again!

    Janet

    Reply to Janet Anderson's comment

    • melissa on February 4, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      I have just started freezing soup in canning jars. I love it!! I use cardboard boxes to “organize” my upright freezer. I put my jars in a smaller box and I do not have to worry about them falling over on the shelf.

      Reply to melissa's comment

    • Elsie McDonald on September 16, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      Keep the case the bottles come in, there should be dividers there, if not I would make my own with thicker cardboard, I would also tape a list of what is in the carton so as not to waste time going through and opening every carton, liquor store is another place to pick up heavy duty cartons with dividers, this should help to protect your bottles.

      Reply to Elsie McDonald's comment

  2. sherry on April 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I have tried freezing several times with mason jars and every time time they have split separating bottom from sides and down a side or two…
    one time it happened just after 2 days. Are all glass canning jars the same? I cannot find a freeze line but just always left an inch or more in the jar empty and left them get cold in fridge before transferring them to the freezer… so What am I doing wrong?
    Thanks Sherry

    Reply to sherry's comment

  3. melissa on April 8, 2013 at 11:08 am

    It has to be a wide mouth jar. If the jar has “shoulders” it should not be used for freezing. Some of the older jars do not have freezing lines, otherwise, if it does not have that line, I would not use it for freezing. I have had great success with freezing soups and stock.

    Reply to melissa's comment

  4. Miranda on April 14, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I threw out all plastic years ago and went to glass canning jars, wide mouth only. For broth, homemade soup, spaghetti sauce w/meat, homemade chili, and milk. I use them for veggies and berries and everything I want to freeze…Haven’t had one break yet. Please no boxes in the freezer. Boxes keep the cold air from circulating properly. @mirandacan/twitter.com

    Reply to Miranda's comment

  5. Elizabeth on April 26, 2013 at 10:22 am

    So there IS a mark on my Ball jars for freezing!! Thanks so much! I will now freeze with confidence. I’ve lost a few larger size Ball jars to cracks in the freezer so I’ve been using ziploc bags, which I dislike for so many reasons! Your a freezer-saver!

    Reply to Elizabeth's comment

  6. julie on April 30, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    First timer to freezing my stock in freezer jars. do I need to sterilize them like people do for jams and jellies?
    Thanks for any help!

    Reply to julie's comment

    • Susy on April 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Nope, no need to sterilize.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • cindy mae on August 6, 2013 at 9:14 am

        ALWAYS STERILIZE WHEN PRESERVING BY ANY METHOD.

        to cindy mae's comment

  7. Patricia on May 3, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    I also use the wide mouth canning jars for so many things! I freeze in them (soups especially), store berries in them in the fridge, use them for crackers, etc in the pantry, and use them in my craft room! I search out jars rather than using zip-locks which I have grown to use very few of!

    Reply to Patricia's comment

  8. David Uschock on June 7, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Is this for extended life of water/pressure canned goods? Or is this for fresh and pop it in the freezer? I’m guessing the ladder, but have you tried the former? I would expect the partial vacuum in canned goods would increase with the drop in temperature. Possibly beyond the structural strength of the glass. (By increase, I mean the internal pressure is already below ambient, hence the partial vacuum. Colder temperatures would drop the internal pressure of the jar even more, but the ambient pressure remains the same. That makes the differnce in pressure internal/external even greater, possibly leading to breakage.)

    Reply to David Uschock's comment

    • Susy on June 8, 2013 at 6:19 am

      This is for fresh foods, I’m not sure about putting canned goods in the freezer in a jar, I wonder if the expansion of the food would cause the original seal to break?

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • melissa hodges on June 8, 2013 at 9:03 am

      There should be no need to put “already canned” food into the freezer. Canning jars have a freeze line on them that takes expansion into account. I tend to freeze foods that I do not have time to “can”. Some, I reheat and can at a later date.

      Reply to melissa hodges's comment

    • Amy on January 11, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      I have a vacume sealer that vacume seals mason jars. Does anyone know what would happen if I vacume sealed my glass jar of stock and froze it?

      I know the issue with freezing food is the degradation due to oxygen. That being said maybe vacume sealing the jars before putting them in the freezer might help?

      Reply to Amy's comment

  9. Abby on August 28, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I am very new to all of this. I have a huge garden and I LOVE soup. I bought the Kerr brand jars that say “great for freezing” on them. Is there anything I need to know? Or can I just dump my soup in the jars, slap the lids on and toss in the freezer? Making sure to only fill to the bottom lip (it doesn’t say freeze line, but its the same as the one in your photo). Any help is appreciated. Thank you! :)
    Abby´s last post ..Yin

    Reply to Abby's comment

    • Susy on August 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      You’ll want to chill them in the fridge first before throwing them in the freezer. Other than that – should work nicely!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Bob Brock on February 11, 2014 at 7:20 am

    I have never frozen in jars. Today will be my first attempt. I have used zip lock bags and never sterilized them, so see no need to do so with clean jars. I will fill to the freeze line, put water in to cover the meat but will not go past the freeze line. I will then place the jar, already cold, in the freezer but will put the lid on AFTER it is frozen. I see no reason for the the jar to break due to freezing with that procedure! I am freezing cooked hamburger meat and will measure out the amount needed for each meal.

    Reply to Bob Brock's comment

  11. Heather on February 26, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    I read that the canning jars do have BPA in them. The metal lids have a rubber seal, and that rubber seal is not BPA-free. So after MUCH research, I have been using jars I got at TJ Max that just have metal lids (no seal). So far they don’t leak, but I don’t know how well they would freeze. I only use mine for juicing, and to bring a batch of juice to work each day. So I’m not canning with these. But if you have input on where to find non-BPA canning jars, I appreciate it! I would love to freeze more.

    Reply to Heather's comment

    • Susy on March 2, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      The canning jars themselves don’t have BPA in them as they’re glass.

      Reply to Susy's comment

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