This post will share the best, most versatile canning jars for a new or experienced canner, that will double as food and drink containers in your home, and will help simplify your pantry and your canning process. Read on for the best canning jars!
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If you’re a new canner, you probably have no idea which jars would be the best and if you’re experienced, you know there’s so many to choose from and that it’s hard to know what really is the best canning jar. I’m here to share what works best for me, and what I’d do if I were you, and why.
I’m always thinking about how easy things are to clean. If it is hard to clean, I’m probably not interested. That’s why the jars I’ll list below are all WIDE MOUTH jars. These are so much easier for your hand or the dishwasher to wash no matter if the jar held canned tomato jam or ground coffee.
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Furthermore, a WIDE MOUTH JAR stacks easily, while a regular mouth jar does not. I want to be able to create a tower of jars if I want to, and wide mouth jars allow for easy stacking.
It is true that a regular mouth pint or quart IS nice for pouring liquid- it offers a tiny bit more control of the liquid pouring out- but that benefit is so small and the advantages of a wide mouth are so much greater that if I had to start all over, I’d never buy any regular mouth jars except for a few exceptions I’ll list below.
The Best Canning Jars
The wide mouth pint jar holds 2 cups and doubles as a drinking glass. They are sturdy, stackable, and 2 cups is not too much applesauce, not too much jam, and is a perfect amount of tomato sauce for a pasta supper. If I had to choose just one canning jar to use forever and ever, it would be this one. Truly, I use them to drink from, and they are the most versatile overall. Pickles like Dilly beans and carrot pickles fit nicely, shoulder to shoulder in them, and it is easy to get air bubbles from a wide mouth pint jar.
The second jar I’ll recommend in this Best Canning Jars post is the wide mouth half pint. I can serving sizes of applesauce, fruit cups, pickles, and more. Yes, you’ll can more batches but think about how many food products you buy or think about buying that are convenience or serving size packaged? The usefulness of not having to scoop out the applesauce and wash a separate bowl after cannot be understated. If you’re feeling like it will take longer to can in smaller servings, you need to use a steam canner– they are ready to can in 5 minutes and save 25 minutes every batch. Read more about steam canning in this post.
Wide mouth half pints hold one cup of food, are small enough that a kindergardener can likely manage to unscrew the ring (though I would open the lid before sending the jar to school until probably Christmas time for my daughter, just until she got the hang of it at home). I love having wide mouth half pints to grab when we are headed out the door- they are the ultimate fast health food.
My mother canned primarily in quart jars. I find this to be problematic for several reasons. Leftovers are liable to go to waste, despite my best efforts. Having half a jar of preserve left over in the fridge takes up refrigerator space for something that very well may go bad. When I do use up the second half, it may not be as delicious as when the jar was first opened. A quart jar can’t be stacked, and the opening is harder to get a scrub brush into. Processing times are longer, too, for quart jars. They are not my preference.
What about specialty jars?
The tiny 4 ounce regular mouth jar is really a delightful little jar. It has no shoulder, no difficult space to clean, so it is like a wide mouth half pint but half the size. They are the perfect jar if you want to share your preserves. They are a single serving size of jam (1-2 pieces of toast), a single serving of salsa, or a 2 person serving of hot sauce. They are what I’ll can one batch (perhaps 12 jars) of applesauce for when my kids want a snack, but it’s close to suppertime or they just aren’t that hungry. I canned more fruit sauces in this size when my kids were very small.
The 4 ounce jar is what I’d use if I were pressure canning plain veggie puree for baby food, or plain fruit sauce like applesauce.
This jar is also what I’d use for canning for a party- bridal or baby shower favors are a thoughtful treat and a manageable project in this size.
Other specialty jars are just that- you can use them to be adorable, when that’s a priority but they are an investment. They might be affordable, but they are not disposable. They will be around, on your shelf or someone else’s indefinitely, so imagine what other preserve or other use you’ll have for the jar in the future.
Other Jars I Love
I use the wide mouth pint and a halfs (3 cups in one jar) for coffee, and all manner of beverages. They’d be ideal for canning a tall pickle like asparagus, garlic scapes, or some other long, languid veggie. I love that they are easy to clean and fit into a car cup holder.
Half gallon mason jars are something that every household should use if not for canning but for dry goods storage. They are so inexpensive, relatively speaking, sturdy, BPA free, like all of these jars, and can be used to store things like flour, sugar, coffee, cereal, oatmeal, crackers, tea bags, and more. They cannot be used for canning in a steam canner (too tall) but can be used for canning in a very large water bath canner. I’d can with these jars if I had a glut of cider, for example.
These are the best canning jars, Wildflowers. If you’re inspired now to learn how to can, join my Free Canning Basics Course to put these jar recommendations to good use and preserve healthy, delicious foods in jars! It’s just a few lessons right in your inbox to get you started the easy way!