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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?

103 Comments to “Using Canning Jars in the Freezer”
  1. callista on March 6, 2010 at 8:05 am

    I do the same thing! its a great idea and they stack wonderfully :)

    Reply to callista's comment

  2. Ken Toney on March 6, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Thank you. I was always fearful of using canning jars in the freezer, but now I will. I like to pressure can as much as possible, to save on the freezer space. But sometimes it isn’t worth the time and energy if I think I will be using that item 1-2 months later.
    .-= Ken Toney´s last blog ..Buried in the Snow! =-.

    Reply to Ken Toney's comment

  3. Beegirl on March 6, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Thanks! I have a bunch of wide mouth jars I don’t use for canning any more, so I am going to give this a try!!
    .-= Beegirl´s last blog ..Love and Learn =-.

    Reply to Beegirl's comment

  4. Throwback at Trapper Creek on March 6, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Always! I never have found that they take up more space either. I have found the food to keep much longer and in better condition this too.
    .-= Throwback at Trapper Creek´s last blog ..Expiration date: 12/31/99 =-.

    Reply to Throwback at Trapper Creek's comment

    • Susy on March 6, 2010 at 6:03 pm

      So true, glass keeps things fresher much longer than plastic!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Emily on March 6, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I have made a lot of changes towards simplicity over the past two years. Right now it seems like I am making a lot or new changes at once (and that is ok!).

    Thanks for your reply yesterday about the butter washing liquid. I will use it in breads. So, yesterday – made fresh butter (for the first time) and froze it in canning jars (for the first time) – YIPPEE.

    I am in the process of switching all things from plastic to glass. In the process of adding more grains and beans to our meals. In the process of going completely organic on meats.

    Thanks for all you share. Your posts are very motivating. Emily in So. TX

    Reply to Emily's comment

  6. Deb G on March 6, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I use canning jars too. Haven’t had one break yet.
    .-= Deb G´s last blog ..a little voice =-.

    Reply to Deb G's comment

  7. risa b on March 6, 2010 at 11:52 am

    We did break a jar once, but dozens have done well. I’ve read that water expands 11% when freezing, which gives you some idea of the margin of safety in lots of things — uninsulated pipes, for example …

    Reply to risa b's comment

    • Susy on March 6, 2010 at 6:04 pm

      So true, and making sure things are chilled in the fridge before freezing is a good thing as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Tree Huggin Momma on March 6, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I also like to freeze in jars, but I need to find a source (local) for wide mouth pints. I have had 2 jars break and it was because I filled them to full and didn’t wait long enough. IN the winters when the temp on the porch is equal to a fridge (or lucky me a freezer). I put the warm items in the jars and place them on the closed porch (no lids). If its not freezing temp they go in the fridge’s freezer until frozen. Then the lid is added and they are dumped in the cold freeze of the chest freezer. I use quart for family size (family of 4) of chili, sauce, soups, but I use pints for my lunches and for stock (because I also make it strong and then add water to the recipe). I am looking into Anchoring as a potential storage solution (but yes they are a bit pricey), but they are made in the USA and BPA free (even the plastic lids)……..
    .-= Tree Huggin Momma´s last blog ..Easter, Birthday Gift and Birthday Party! =-.

    Reply to Tree Huggin Momma's comment

    • clm3723 on January 20, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      great idea to freeze without the lid first-takes the guess work out of how full is too ful!!

      Reply to clm3723's comment

  9. Meredith on March 6, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Thank you for this informative post. I’ve been trying to stop using plastic as much as possible, and this just adds another option for me. I use jars for storage and canning, of course, but to tell you the truth, I never even thought of using them for freezing things! Will definitely be putting this idea into practice.
    .-= Meredith´s last blog ..March days =-.

    Reply to Meredith's comment

  10. sarah on March 6, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    You are amazing! So inspirational – we are going to give this a whirl. We make stock often and this sounds like a great way to store it. Thanks!
    .-= sarah´s last blog ..Nasturtiums =-.

    Reply to sarah's comment

    • Susy on March 6, 2010 at 6:05 pm

      It’s the best way I’ve found to store it. These jars are much easier to handle, I have found that the pyrex containers aren’t always 100% watertight and they spill on their way down to the basement freezer (not that the cats mind).

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. tigress on March 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    this is a great idea. i have been trying to move away from using the two piece lids for hot water bath canning because of PBA concern. moving to glass tops is a process – i love the weck jars, and i have been on a hunt for perfect condition vintage wire bail balls. for freezing i have a bunch of food grade plastic quarts that i use for fruits etc – as i too try to limit my use of freezer bags. but using these screw cap glass jars – of which i have a bunch from canning makes a whole lotta sense! thanks for this one susy!
    .-= tigress´s last blog ..jam on it: plum hot jelly & almond butter =-.

    Reply to tigress's comment

    • Susy on March 6, 2010 at 6:06 pm

      I too love Weck jars, they’re so pricey for investing in, but worth it. I buy up the old ones when I can find them as well. And I buy a few Weck jars each year as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. MAYBELLINE on March 6, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I use Ziploc freezer bags.
    BPA? Please educate me.
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Ralph and the Giant Tomato =-.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  13. Julie on March 6, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    I’ll have to give it another go… the only time I tried freezing broth in a canning jar resulted in an exploded jar – not pretty. It was a small-mouth quart sized jar though, and likely was too full. I’ll try again with some wide mouth pints and see how it comes.

    Thanks for inspiring me to give it another shot!

    Reply to Julie's comment

  14. Pampered Mom on March 6, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I love using canning jars as well, but truth be told I also use plastic freezer bags. It depends upon my mood I suppose.
    .-= Pampered Mom´s last blog ..Cancer =-.

    Reply to Pampered Mom's comment

  15. granny on March 7, 2010 at 12:21 am

    Over here in Ausralia,the ball jars I buy are $36 for 12 x 1 pint ,wide mouth jars.$42 for the 1 quart size.And the Elite 1/2 pint jars are $17 for 4 ! I wish I could get them for under a dollar :0)
    .-= granny´s last blog ..Taking A Drive Around Town.. =-.

    Reply to granny's comment

  16. granny on March 7, 2010 at 12:23 am

    That should read, Australia,lol.!!!! :0)
    .-= granny´s last blog ..Taking A Drive Around Town.. =-.

    Reply to granny's comment

  17. Rcakewalk on March 7, 2010 at 1:16 am

    Great tip about reducing the chicken stock- I’m totally stealing that one! I freeze in jars all the time, and seem to go in streaks with breakage…don’t know why. I think I’ll try your tip of using pints instead of quarts, and see if that helps. Nothing more disappointing that having to ditch a whole quart if something!
    .-= Rcakewalk´s last blog ..(Finally,) A Companion for Beet Pasta: Blue Cheese Sauce =-.

    Reply to Rcakewalk's comment

  18. Mrs. Mac on March 7, 2010 at 5:30 am

    I, too, prefer glass canning jars to use in the freezer. I especially liked your tip for reducing the stock (double strength) to save on freezer space.
    .-= Mrs. Mac´s last blog ..You, Me … and the Kitchen Sink =-.

    Reply to Mrs. Mac's comment

  19. Brittany Noel on March 7, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I always freeze with canning jars! I actually use my canning jars for everything. All of my leftovers go in them, I freeze with them, I take lunch to school in them. I even take juice to school in them! You’re absolutely right, too: if you leave enough headspace, it will not break. I’ve never had one break yet :)
    .-= Brittany Noel´s last blog ...oh, gee. =-.

    Reply to Brittany Noel's comment

  20. Morgan G on March 7, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks, Susy! Another useful, easy-to-read post. I appreciate those 60-80 hours you put in each week. I learn lots from you and truly enjoy your blog.

    PS- My Principe Borghese seeds hit my mailbox on Friday. Can’t wait to taste my first sun-dried at-home tomato!
    .-= Morgan G´s last blog ..A Toast to Organic Wine! =-.

    Reply to Morgan G's comment

  21. Tadj on March 10, 2010 at 4:16 am

    I have used canning jars for freezing soup and broth, but I’d like to use them for freezing vegetables as well. Do you all do anything differently when you blanch and freeze veggies (I’m asking because I just did this with 20+ lbs of chard and spinach last night- but froze in ziplocks!)
    Thanks!

    Reply to Tadj's comment

    • Susy on March 10, 2010 at 11:43 am

      I don’t do anything besides the recommendations in most canning books when it comes to blanching veggies for freezing. Usually my spinach I cook down and whir in food processor so it’s in tiny bits. Then I freeze in ice cube trays and then bag up the cubes when frozen. Then whenever I’m making soup/sauce/etc, I have small cubes of frozen spinach to add extra nutrients to each dish. Most people don’t even know I added spinach. Since it’s pureed it just looks like spices.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  22. MAYBELLINE on April 17, 2010 at 11:47 am

    I would like to freeze spaghetti sauce today using jars rather than ziplock freezer bags. I have wide mouth quart jars.

    Should I purchase pint jars since their shape is a straight rather than curved?

    I would prefer to use the quart jars I have instead of have a bunch of smaller jars in the freezer.

    Any suggestions are appreciated.
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Minding My Peas =-.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

    • Susy on April 17, 2010 at 12:07 pm

      You can use quart, just leave a good amount of head room (after freezing for a while you’ll figure out what works for what food), I’d first try filling about 3/4 full and freezing one then seeing how much it expands. I’m guessing 2″ of head space would be sufficient for sauce since it isn’t as solid as a water, stock or whey (which I freeze often). I most often freeze in pints because there are only 2 of us.

      Also make sure that the sauce is cold before putting in jars and in the freezer. I usually put sauce into jars then chill in the coldest part of the fridge overnight, then into the freezer they go.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • MAYBELLINE on April 17, 2010 at 1:50 pm

        Excellent. Thanks,
        .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Minding My Peas =-.

        to MAYBELLINE's comment

  23. Bobbie on June 30, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I just froze 12 pints of chicken stock in canning jars. Four of the jars broke. I left 1 inch of top space, do I need more? Does it make a difference whether it’s a wide mouth or not? I’m trying not to use plastic.

    Yes, the stock was cold.

    Reply to Bobbie's comment

    • Susy on June 30, 2010 at 7:03 pm

      Wide mouth jars do best I have found, and I usually freeze in pints. I’ve had a few quart jars break, usually the narrow rim ones. I sometimes leave more headroom, and I don’t screw on the lids too tightly. In the course of my freezing in jars I’ve had 3-4 break and they were all in the same batch once.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  24. Suz on July 29, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    I am so happy to see that people have successfully frozen in glass versus plastic, as I am trying to avoid it, too. Can some of you give the specifics on freezing chard or kale in jars? After blanching should I drain the greens as much as possible before freezing, or do you think it would be preferable to freeze them in some liquid? And, should beets be fully cooked before freezing, or blanching or partially cooking works best for them, too?

    Reply to Suz's comment

    • Susy on July 30, 2010 at 7:14 am

      I’d leave a little bit of water in with the greens as I think they’ll have less chance of getter freezer burnt this way. I’d cook beets fully before freezing.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  25. Annemarie on September 26, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    I would like to freeze carrots,swiss chard, collards and kale in freezer jars. What is the best way to do this.

    Reply to Annemarie's comment

    • Susy on September 27, 2010 at 8:40 am

      Blanche them first, then put them in the jars and freeze. With the chard and other green fill to the freeze line, the carrots you can fill a little fuller since they have expansion space between the carrots.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  26. Ashley on February 6, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Just a thought. If you are concerned about the glass jar breaking in the freezer, you can always put the jar itself in a plastic (Zip-Lock) bag. I plan to be freezing some extra batches of soup in quart size Mason Jars this week. But in the spirit of “damage control”, I’ll put the jars in plastic bags. In the unlikely event disaster does strike, the damage will be contained in the plastic bag.

    Reply to Ashley's comment

  27. Spring Inspiration « My Big Green House on March 21, 2011 at 9:40 am

    […] Never thought of this before.  How it saves on lids!  It will be our new normal for soup storage.  We have so many […]

    Reply to Spring Inspiration « My Big Green House's comment

  28. Debi Chapman on March 21, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    This is a great idea! I appreciate the tip.

    Reply to Debi Chapman's comment

  29. Janet on July 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    I am doing freezer jam and was told I can’t use glass, I don’t want to use plastic, my grandma never did! My Dad said use it it will be fine just leave room for expansion, …….I guess it works plus the jam will be cool before I put it in anyhow! Thanks made my day!

    Reply to Janet's comment

  30. Rebecca on July 18, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I like to purchase dry beans in bulk when on sale. I wanted to have some cooked and ready in the freezer in freezing jars. When freezing cooked beans should I add the cooking water as well or drain the beans and just freeze the beans? Thanks for any tips!

    Reply to Rebecca's comment

    • Susy on July 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      No need to add the water for freezing, although if you do it will make them last longer in the freezer. Just make sure if you do to not fill the jars too full and to make sure they’ good and cold before going into the freezer.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  31. Friday Favorite: Homemade Stock | Chiot's Run on July 22, 2011 at 10:37 am

    […] saturated animals fats read The Skinny on Fats. I like to reduce my broth to double strength and freeze in wide mount pint jars. This way they take up less room in the freezer. I use a pint of stock and a pint of filtered water […]

    Reply to Friday Favorite: Homemade Stock | Chiot’s Run's comment

  32. Lee on August 2, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Great idea about making stock double the strength. I’m going to try that.

    Reply to Lee's comment

  33. Nancy on August 2, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    After canning peaches for 7 years, I now freeze them sliced with a very LITE syrup in pint wide mouth jars. Have been freezing about 20 pints every summer for the past 4 years. Use them in my yogurt, and oatmeal with a sprinkle of cinnamon. My jars of all sizes are found throughout the house for various things. Recently used an old blue pint size with the zinc lid to make a liquid hand soap pump dispenser. Found instructions online. My fellow co-workers love my lunches using my 1/2 pint and 4oz jars. No plastic please!!!

    Reply to Nancy's comment

  34. Janine at Rustic Kitchen on August 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    A belated suggestion on this thread. I put cold food into the jars, then put unsealed jars into the fridge for an hour or so to get everything to the same chilly temperature, then into the freezer, with lids on but not the bands. After an overnight spell, everything is frozen to its proper level and then can be sealed for the duration.
    Janine at Rustic Kitchen´s last post ..Jam-apalooza: improv jam recipe

    Reply to Janine at Rustic Kitchen's comment

  35. Eve on September 12, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Here’s a way to minimize the damage in case of jar explosions in the freezer: put each new chilled jar in a freezer bag, or other plastic bag. If it explodes it’s easy to ditch the whole thing with no mess. If one does go, it will be early on when the expansion happens, so once they are completely frozen you can take the jars out and reuse the bags over and over.

    Loved the stock reduction tip – very smart.

    Reply to Eve's comment

    • Susy on September 12, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      Great tip Eve – thanks!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  36. Jaime on September 18, 2011 at 12:57 am

    Last weekend I made a big batch of chicken stock and put it in glass jars to freeze. I just looked at them today and they are all broken! The stock had cooled in the fridge for several hours before putting it into the jars and I didn’t fill paste the fill line as indicated above. Now I have 7 cracked jars and a lot of wasted chicken stock. I’m so bummed and I have no idea why this happened. Thoughts???

    Reply to Jaime's comment

    • Susy on September 18, 2011 at 8:11 am

      Most likely the stock wasn’t cold enough. I always chill mine overnight at least in my fridge (which is set fairly cold). Making sure the liquid is super cold makes it expand less when you put in the freezer and it freezes. I have only ever had one quart jar break, and it was a narrow mouthed one and I had filled it too full. I also only freeze in wide mouth pint jars or the old quart special freezing jars, they seem to work best.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  37. Patricia on January 4, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Regular canning lids contain BPA (sorry, but it is true). BUT I found BPA free, reusable lids online by Tattler!
    http://shop.reusablecanninglids.com/

    Reply to Patricia's comment

    • Susy on January 5, 2012 at 9:42 am

      Yes, but they’re also plastic so they probably will contain some chemical that we’ll find out about later. Your best bet is to start buying European jars with glass jars and rubber seals.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  38. Homemade Stock | Eat Outside The Bag on January 15, 2012 at 10:18 am

    […] saturated animals fats read The Skinny on Fats. I like to reduce my broth to double strength and freeze in wide mount pint jars. This way they take up less room in the freezer. I use a pint of stock and a pint of filtered water […]

    Reply to Homemade Stock | Eat Outside The Bag's comment

  39. Heather B on March 22, 2012 at 4:16 am

    I never noticed that fill line before. Luckily I haven’t overfilled my stock. I feel a little dumb…it never occurred to me to save space by reducing to double strength! I’m doing that from now on!

    Reply to Heather B's comment

  40. Steve on May 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I’ve always been hesitant to use mason jars because of the breakage risk as well. Seeing that you’re using them with success though means I’m going to give it a shot. I just went and looked for the fill to freeze line on my Ball jars but couldn’t fine any. I guess I’ll be safe if I fill to 3/4 or so. Is that safe?

    Reply to Steve's comment

    • Susy on May 8, 2012 at 6:35 am

      Yes, slightly higher than that. Pint wide mouth jars works best and run the least risk of breakage.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  41. Racheal on May 10, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Question, I have never used glass canning jars before. I’m venturing into making my own food for my baby. I didn’t want to deal with canning, so I bought the 4oz jars from Ball to freeze. Do I need to do anything special after I fill them? Or can they go straight in the freezer? For example, I have butternut squash cooled down & ready to be put in the jars. Do I need to submerge jars in boiling water?

    Reply to Racheal's comment

    • Susy on May 10, 2012 at 10:01 am

      If you’re freezing them you don’t need to worry about it. Make sure you cool the jars in the fridge before moving them to the freezer.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  42. Rachel on June 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Ah! Thank you so much for this! I have been wanting to make my own soups since I have stopped eating from cans, and this is the perfect storage solution. Now I can make lots of soup and have portions on hand for a quick meal! Woo!

    Reply to Rachel's comment

  43. Laure on July 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    I’ve run across the coolest food saver gadget! It is a lid sealer for wide mouth jars! It completely pressure seals the lids. What I’m wanting to use them for in the freezer is to store layers of garden vegetables for soup later in the winter. I am planning to blanch and freeze the veggies first then layer them in the jar. Has anyone ever tried this?

    Reply to Laure's comment

  44. Jess on August 23, 2012 at 1:43 am

    I am going to try canning in the freezer this year – for many of the reasons you write about above. In the past, I would blanch and peel my tomatoes, then freeze them in plastic freezer bags. Do you think I can do the same method in jars in the freezer? Or do I need to go through a whole process like I would for regular tomato canning? Thanks!!

    Reply to Jess's comment

    • Susy on August 23, 2012 at 8:09 am

      Yes you could do the same in jars – just remember to chill the jars of tomatoes well before freezing and to allow plenty of head room. Wide mouth jars work best for freezing.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  45. labreasha on August 28, 2012 at 11:07 am

    i like the freezing glass

    Reply to labreasha's comment

  46. ashley on October 24, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Can you pour the hot stock into the ball jars to refrigerate when it is hot?
    Otherwise what do you refrigerate in? Thanks.

    Reply to ashley's comment

    • Susy on October 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm

      Yes you can pour it in initially when it’s hot, but you have to chill it before putting it in the freezer.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  47. Joan on November 2, 2012 at 7:23 am

    I put the jars in the freezer without their lids, then put the lids on after everything is frozen. This allows for expansion upwards. I’ve never had a broken jar, so it seems to work.

    Reply to Joan's comment

  48. Judy on December 13, 2012 at 12:35 am

    I freeze small portions of uncooked steak & ground chuck and Costco’s ham & ravioli, all in plastic containers. Can I do the same in wide mouth glass jars?

    Reply to Judy's comment

    • Susy on December 13, 2012 at 8:02 am

      Sure you can, give it a try!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  49. Judy on December 18, 2012 at 12:12 am

    I’m freezing stew in wide mouth quart jars. How tightly sealed do jars have to be in the freezer? It seems to me that a lid with a ring would provide a tighter seal than a plastic screw lid? Is it all that important as long as the top, whatever it is, is properly secured?

    Reply to Judy's comment

  50. Julie on January 20, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Very helpful information. You answered all the questions I had about this. Thank you!

    Reply to Julie's comment

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