Over the weekend, my friend Shay and I took a little road trip out to Mount Joy, PA, the Lancaster County town where she grew up. We left Philly early, as we had a busy schedule of shopping, lunch at The Tilted Kilt and seeing her parents. Included in our shopping stops were visits to The Country Store (an amazing place, with inexpensive organic flours, grains and spices as well as lots of hard-to-find-in-the-city canning supplies), Weis (they have really good prices on canning jars and liquid pectin) and the Mount Joy Gift and Thrift.
I love visiting thrift stores in less urban areas, because they are almost always an amazing source of cheap canning jars. This latest trip to the Gift and Thrift yielded a bounty of perfectly good, used canning jars, all priced between $.10 and $.35 a piece.
Here’s the thing about buying used canning jars. Sometimes, it’s the best deal ever. However, if you’re not careful, you actually end up spending more than you will on a dozen new jars. Old jars typically will be sold as-is, without rings. A box of new rings and lids runs around $4, so if you spend more than $.50 a jar, adding in the cost of lids and rings brings your dozen ready-to-can jars upwards of $10. In grocery stores, you can typically get a dozen ready-to-use jars for between $7-8 (prices do vary).
The other thing about buying used jars is that you need to take a careful look at them prior to making your purchase. Give them a visual once-over and then run your finger over the rim to make sure there aren’t any chips or imperfections. You won’t be able to get a good seal on a jar if the rim is uneven.
However, there’s also a lot to be said for buying used jars. They are often more unique and charming than the basic jars you get new (check out this fun Bicentennial jar I picked up). It’s a more environmentally sound choice. And your jar dollars go into the coffers of charity shops and individual sellers instead of large corporations.
Go forth and buy jars!
Wait- why do you buy lids AND rings for used jars? I figure an avid canner such as yourself is in the same boat as I am- a GIANT collection of rings. I’ve got more rings than I know what to do with! I just buy packets of lids, at ~$2 each.
Ether, I was putting those figures together for people who might not have an extensive stash of rings at their disposal. I do have a considerable collection, but not everyone does. -Marisa
Thanks for the tips! I had wondered about used jars. I have a good bunch of jars without rings and lids now and was wondering if I should buy new ones or if these were ok. I’ll have to check to see if the tops are good. yay for jars!
Yep, just give those jars a quick once-over and they should be good to go! -Marisa
I just picked up one of those bicentennial jars for .25 at a yard sale. So cute and filled with History!
Oh, very fun Katie!
I’ve begun saving jars from jarred foods and such that I buy. I was thinking of using them for holding spices, but I think saving them for when I begin canning might be a wise idea too. Do you save your jars from store bought jarred foods?
You should really only can in mason jars, which are designed to stand up to the high heat of canning. Unless they are marked “mason,” those jars you save from from the foods you buy don’t fit this bill.
My grandmother was an avid canner. She reused both the jelly, pickle, etc. type jars and their lids. I didn’t believe it would be safe, but I reused those for jelly only. They seal every time, and I have never had one go bad using those small type jars from the stores. I have been canning for 35 years. I am always careful to make sure the button seals (on the top) and pops when I open it.
should I take out cloves when pickling asapragus from the pickling spice
No need to remove cloves unless you don’t like them.
Is Pickling salt the same as Kosher salt
Pickling salt is not the same as kosher salt. I wrote a whole post on salt that you can find here: https://foodinjars.com.s164546.gridserver.com/arugulapesto/2010/08/canning-101-on-substituting-salt-in-pickling/