Canning 101: A Field Guide to Jars

January 4, 2012(updated on October 3, 2018)

regular mouth ball jars

Recently, one of my long-ago former co-workers mentioned on the Food in Jars Facebook page that what she really wanted to see was a visual guide to available jars out there. So earlier, after I’d met all my deadlines for the day, I raced around my apartment, hunting down examples of all the easily available jars currently in production in the hopes that I’d have them all. Amazingly, I did.

Before we dig into the jars, you should know that all standard canning jars sold in the U.S. are made by a company called Jarden Home Brands. They own Ball, Kerr and Bernardin (that’s their Canadian brand). So though it appears that there are multiple brands of jars out there, they’re all made by the same manufacturer.

The first group is the available regular mouth Ball jars. They come in quart, pint and half pint sizes. These jars are the ones most commonly found on the east coast. These shapes and sizes can also be found with the Kerr marker, but only out west. I prefer the Kerr jars to Ball, because they have a smooth back (it’s perfect for labels) but they’re nearly impossible to get where I live.

wide mouth kerr jars

The next group is the wide mouth Kerr assortment. These come in quart, pint and half pint sizes. Of all available jars, the wide mouth half pint is my very favorite jar currently in production. Sadly, it’s one that’s very hard to track down here in the Philadelphia area. I either drive to the Good’s Store in Lancaster or I mail order them. It kills me every time I visit my mom in Portland, OR and see stacks of this size/shape at her local grocery store.

wide mouth ball jars

Here’s the Ball brand wide mouth assortment. They have these in half gallon, quart and pint. As far as I know, they don’t currently make a half gallon jar under the Kerr label (feel free to correct me in the comments if you’ve seen them in stores recently). Jarden doesn’t currently make the wide mouth half pint under the Ball brand, though I have one floating around my apartment, so at one time they did.

quilted jelly jars

Here’s the quilted line-up. These jars come in 4, 8 (half pint) and 12 ounce varieties. I don’t love the looks of them (I much prefer a smooth-sided jar), but these are such handy sizes (I love the 12 ounce jar for pickling asparagus because it’s a bit taller than the available pint jars) that I put aside my aesthetic concerns and use them.

collection elite jars

Lastly, there’s the Collection Elite line. This consists of just two jars, a pint and a half pint. Unlike the rest of the canning jars featured* which come in cases of 12, these jars are sold in four packs. I love the shape of them, but often forgo them for the less expensive jars.

You will often come across other sizes and shapes in thrift and antique stores, but to my knowledge, these are the only ones currently available for purchase new.

One last thing before I sign off. Remember last year when I mentioned that a new brand of canning jars was coming to market? Sadly, it’s not to be. Jarden Home Brands bought Penley and put the kibosh on that plan.

*Half gallon jars are sold in cases of six.

Sharing is caring!

Posted in

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

204 thoughts on "Canning 101: A Field Guide to Jars"

  • I keep praying for them to bring back asparagus jars!! I have collected 6 from various estate sales but would love love love to be able to buy them from the store!

    1. Lacy, I am so with you! I adore those old pint and a half jars and I so wish they’d bring them back. I have a bunch that I’ve collected over the years, but I hate to can in them, because I’m terrified of breaking them.

    2. I recently scored a case (12) of the 1-1/2 pint jars from my parents’ garage. Big plans for fermented asparagus and dilly beans this year!

    3. I went to my local hardware store and had them order me the quilted 12 oz jars for 10 dollars and some change a case. maybe you can do the same.

    4. If you are interested in Weck jars (scroll down for more detailed info about them), they make jars perfect for asparagus.
      My take on Weck, as a fairly new canner, is that they work just as well as Ball/Kerr overall. (I think if you were doing massive amounts then it becomes an issue, but for small batches, I find them great.) On the cost issue, I use them for my personal canning, and give away Ball jars containing goodies freely.
      Nothing beats finding a great old jar at a tag sale or thrift store though.

    5. Ball has been making the pint and half jars for a year or so now. Ask your local jar store (Ace, Farm & Fleet or whoever) to order them for you if they are not in stock. They are also on Amazon.

  • Thanks for the rundown! It was very interesting. I regularly patrol the local second hand stores in my area for jars. Goodwill here in Oregon sells any size canning jar for just 29 cents! My favorites are the 4 oz jars and the Elite collection and I’m able to find them from time to time at second hand stores. I give them a run through the dishwasher on the sterilize cycle and they are good to go! Once I even found some jars with old labels on them which was really interesting. My two favorite labels were Strawberry-Banana Jam and Fireweed Jelly. It would be great to know the story behind those types of jars when I find them.

    1. Wow! That’s a great price! I’ve seen a Goodwill and Savers here in San Jose, CA sells quart jars for .99.

    1. Crate and Barrel currently carries Weck jars in their stores. I used them this summer for preserves and have come to love them for storing things in my kitchen!

  • I’m so intrigued by the total monopoly on glass mason jars safe for canning. Especially now that Ball bought Penley… is there a reason for this?

    Just thinking out loud, not expecting a real answer. But opinions are always welcome.

    And Ball, can we PLEASE have some smooth-sided 4 oz jars? Pretty please? Maybe even smooth-sided 12 oz asparagus jars too!

    1. From what I know, Jarden bought Penley in order to prevent them from challenging their monopoly. I think the lack of competition is in part due to the fact that while canning is currently gaining in popularity, it’s still not the widely held practice that it once was. So there might not be enough market share for anyone else to make a go of it. Penley was trying, but I guess Jarden made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

      And yes, I’d love to see those 4 and 12 ounce jars available with smooth sides.

    2. I have used the jars you are referring to from Walmart because they cost less and they are smooth all around, but they are not made in USA. Right before Thanksgiving when I really needed jars for gifts Walmart was completely out of all brands they stocked. I had to go to Ace and Kroger which always cost more.

    3. I like Kerr jars for their mostly-smooth sides. I don’t know why Ball insists on putting all that raised lettering and design on theirs. They are really hard to stick a label on and, personally, I’d just like to focus on what’s in the jars rather than some useless measurements. Kerr just looks a little more old-fashioned which I like, too.

      Happy New Year everyone!

  • Do you ever use Weck jars? I have a few kicking around from (the now sadly departed) Telltale Preserve Co., but I’ve never put anything up in them. They come in all manner of gorgeous sizes and shapes, but I’m just so used to the Ball/Kerr jars that I haven’t explored using Weck jars.

  • The Kerr smooth side half-pint is my favorite, as well. I can’t get them here, I have to drive to Northern CA. Boo.

    1. None of the Wal-mart stores in my area stock canning supplies (or if they do, they’re seasonal and I’ve missed them), so I’ve not been able to check out their offerings. I didn’t include special order jars in this round-up. I was just doing the Ball/Kerr lines of jars.

      1. I’m in Jersey, so I’ll consider myself in your area, and the Wal-Marts around me only carry canning jars from about May to mid-August. By the beginning of September ALL of the canning stuff is on clearance. Jars included.

  • I live in Florida & there is one place in my town that sells Kerr & that’s ace hardware, but they ARE NOT cheap. My Winn dixie also sells the asparagus jars but those aren’t particularly cheap either. Lol. I’ve been around a ton of stores, lookin fr any kind of canning equip, & jut happened to have stumbled on those nice little finds. πŸ™‚ thanx for the education lesson. Happy new year!

    1. Does anyone have a Lowe’s hardware store close to them? If so they have been selling all their canning jars and stuff dirt cheap. You might want to go online and choose your local Lowe’s store and see what they have to offer.

  • Oh my, that was fast, thank you!!

    And you’ll either kick yourself or be pleased (or both) to know that Fante’s always has Kerr wide mouth half-pints now. I know they’re not the cheapest game in town, but the owner, Mariella, affirmed that she will be keeping canning supplies in stock year-round.

  • Kerr makes a non-quilted 4 oz jar. I’ve gotten them at Walmart here in N. CA and at the hardware store. I love them for little thank you gifts.

  • Here in Canada we have a third jar lid size – GEM. I get a lot of used Gem jars from freecycle. Gem is a bit bigger than Standard and smaller than widemouthed. I have two gallon GEM jars, gallon, quart, half quart, even 1 cup gem jars. the screw lid part is deeper, but in Canada we can buy the lids and screw tops at our local grocer. I love the big huge jars as they are so perfect for legumes, and we have glass lids and rubber rims that make the whole sealing perfect for dry storage. but I do a lot of ‘real’ canning in GEM jars since I have them.

  • Dear Marisa,

    thank you so much for this. It even makes me mooooooore jealous, not to be able to buy these here in Germany! They look so damn beautiful….. Especially the quilted ones!
    Well I use Weck Jars, which I like very much too!
    But as you wrote in one of your answers, you do have the same problems as me with them?

  • I noticed at the grocery store a while back that one of the boxes of jars was also listed as freezer safe. I want to say it was the quilted jars, but I’m not sure, so don’t take my word for it, but it might be worth checking out if you want freezable jars.

  • Target sells both Ball and Kerr jars. Some sizes are available in stores only and others are available online. I picked up a dozen quart Kerr jars a few months ago at my local Target for $9.99.

  • I live in Indiana, original home to the Ball family who used to make Ball jars. You can pretty much only get Ball jars here, no Kerr. Goodwill sells used canning jars for 99 cents. WalMart had a line of jars for sale made by Better Homes and Gardens. They are closer in shape to the Ball Elite jars, but can be found in larger sizes (Quart? Pint? I don’t know.) as well as around 8 ounce size. I thought they were so absolutely adorable but I was eaten alive on an online forum for saying so, as they are made in China. The BH&G jars have a white band and a red and white checked lid.

    I have never seen the WM brand jars in the store, they are always sold out/understocked so i don’t know what they look like. Someone handier than me can probably find a link about the BH&G jars, but I only saw them one time, so I don’t know what’s up with that.

    By the way, I graduated from Ball State University in Muncie, IN, founded also by the Ball family, of course!

    1. Ha! I’m in BSU grad school now and pass by the Jarden building in Daleville every time I drive into Muncie. I’d always wondered what that business was all about.

  • Killiqn’s Hardware in Chestnut Hill stocks the wide mouth half pints πŸ™‚ And they stock canning supplies year round!

  • I’ve used some of the Better Homes & Gardens jars sold at Wal Mart, but I really don’t like them. They’re not as heavy, and in my (limited) experience the seals fail much more often than with Ball brand jars.

  • Wish Ball would come out with a BPA free lid! I have used the Tattler, but for each batch, at least two do not seal!

    1. I have the same problem with Tattler lids! I find it really helps to screw them down tight as soon as you take them out of the canner, but yes, they are more fussy than the regular disposables. When I teach canning, I often suggest rookies start with the metal lids just to help guarantee seals.

    2. Oh, me too, Judi! I would love to use only BPA-free lids. I have a couple of boxes of the Tattlers but they’re so expensive. For freezing, or just refrigerating an open jar of jam or sauce, I use a BPA-free all-in-one white lid made by Ball, labeled plastic storage caps. They’re not for processing of course, but great for storing food in freezer + refrigerators…

      1. Given the response to this post, wouldn’t it be amazing if Ball finally came out with a BPA lid? It’s such a great lid system, it’s too bad it’s not toxin free. I’d even be willing to pay more, since I’m already having to pay more by using Weck jars…

  • The last time I needed to buy jars I looked at both the Better Homes & Gardens and Mainstays brands at Wal-Mart. They were definitely less expensive than then Ball and Kerr jars, but I decided to go with Ball/Kerr anyway since they are still made in America. It seems like it’s been harder to find the half-pint jars lately, which is what I use the most.

    1. The half-pints are definitely harder to find and sometimes, they are more expensive than the pint jars! Even crazier is that the 4-ounce jars cost even more than the half-pint jars.

    1. I find Golden Harvest jars at Big Lots/Odd Lots stores here in Ohio. They’re another imprint of Jarden.

      1. Rachel, I live in Ohio, too, and in the spring when Big Lots gets their first couple of pallets in stock, it’s a race to the store! In my neck of the woods, lots of “home-business soy candle makers” compete with canners for these jars. I would love to encounter one of these candle-makers and explain to them all the other faux-canning-jar options they have (like the Flower Factory for China-made cheap glass), so that they would leave canning glass for canners to purchase!

    2. Amy, I totally forgot about the Golden Harvest jars! I never see them in my area, but they are out there. Where do you live? I wonder if they’re more common in certain areas of the country.

        1. I am in Ohio and I have some Golden Harvest jars….though I couldn’t tell you where I bought them. Actually, maybe Dollar General ? πŸ™‚

  • I love the half pint wide mouth jars! They are great for using as snack bowls for my kids. Or storing little bits of leftovers like mashed potatoes, peas, or corn…without taking up lots of space. They also stack nicely. They were the first jars I bought (quite a few years ago) and haven’t been able to find them anywhere in my area (MA) since. My half pints are “Ball” brand. I think I may have to place an online order soon to get some more. I have never seen the half gallon in my area either, but I could find lots of uses for those too!

  • I too love the 1/2 pint wide mouth, but couldn’t find them anywhere locally. You CAN buy them off of Amazon, which is what I did eventually. (they are great for homemade hand and udder salves!)

  • Great post! We’ve mostly Ball jars here, but I’m able to special order the Kerr wide-mouth half-pints through my local Ace Hardware store β€” pick up is at the store, no shipping charge.

    When is Jarden going to come out with a BPA-free lid?

  • A great article! I love jars too and didn’t realize the variety. I pick up what I can from yard sales and get empties from gifts and keep recycling. Thanks for the information article! I guess I’m lucky to live on the West Coast. Sometimes we take little things for granted. Happy New Year!

  • I too LOVE the Kerr wide half pints. They sell them at a local hardware store by me, but are often out of stock. I guess we’re not the only ones πŸ™‚

  • Really great roundup Marisa! I am able to order in bulk and I use a company called Fillmore Container. The smooth 4 oz jars that I get are made in Korea, but Arkansas Glass Company and Leon make an 8 oz smooth jelly jar and I believe you can order in cases of 12 directly from Fillmore (I order pallets for the business). Both of these 8 oz jars are made in the USA and I always feel better about supporting American companies. The standard Ball jar tops fit these jars.

    1. Great discussion!!! Wendy and Marissa – hi! I’ve explored (and will continue to explore) alternatives to Jardin jars. I was interested in your impression of Fillmore. Over the years I’ve had several discussions with their reps, and LOVE the fact that they offer a well-built American jar, but the last time we spoke they still said that their jars were not to be used under pressure… They said their glass was appropriate for “turning over” (not a method we will use), and water bath. From what I can figure out, it seems that some glass companies deem canning jars as “Ball-shaped” glass jars that you put food in, and then either refrigerate, freeze, or maybe water bath. But canning glass companies (i.e., Jardin), make a jar that is actually for canning in. Whose walls are thick and tempered enough to withstand over 20 psi.

      So what about pressure? I’ve just been sent some “made in China” jars from a Tennessee rep, and now that the holiday business is slowing, I’m interested in taking these jars for a test drive under pressure. Any thoughts?

  • Thanks, Marisa, for the update. When you answered me back about the Penley company being bought out by Jarden, I realized that Jarden has attempted/is managing to keep their monopoly going. As long as this is the situation, we won’t likely find the variety or the price we would see if there were competitors. As far as I can tell, Wal-Mart is phasing out their jars too. While I don’t shop Wal-Mart (I prefer locals and independents whenever I have a choice), I checked them out anyway. For over a year now, our large Atlanta store has been winding them down – to where there are only a few accessory items but no more jars (not Mainstays or Better Homes & Gardens which they carried). And you can’t get them on-line from Wal-Mart now either, which has finally convinced me that this avenue for jars has pretty much closed. But, as another noted on this site, I wouldn’t buy from them anyway and they are made in China.

    Here’s what I do that may help you and I’m suggesting three variations on this idea = all having to do with buying from Ace. I can a lot so price is critical for me. FYI, Ace is national and I think available in all 50 states. 1) Buy at the store – ask your owner/manager if he/she will discount if you buy in quantity. Since these are locally owned and operated, they are greatly interested in doing business with the local community!.Mine is giving me 10% off and I can buy as little or lot at one time as long as I am buying all my jars from them – a great deal so I don’t have to plunk down a lot of cash at one time (an 8 oz jar at $9.49/case of 12 would be 79cents in this store, and with the discount is 71cents – the best deal I’ve found for new jars anywhere!). 2) Order online and have them ship to your store. There is no charge for any online purchase shipped to store by Ace. Therefore that jar above costs 79cents each – not bad! 3)If your Ace doesn’t stock these jars or doesn’t stock enough for you to find them when you need them, ask if he’ll stock a few sizes you will use regularly – and offer to get your friends to start buying them there. That will increase his market and he’ll be helping you out too. Over time, I’ll bet he’ll add to the variety of jars stocked when the word gets out. Also, may I add that if an Ace isn’t very close to you – think of getting a large quantity at one time for your canning needs so that the trip can be justified and the lower price helps with your gas!

    One final note: None of this situation is going to change as, Marisa noted, as canning is still not yet in the mainstream. But it’s on its way – especially if you realize what has happened to green markets – and canning is such a logical next step! We are all good ambassadors for canning and this is going to help improve our resources in the long run!

    1. Lyn, it sounds like you’ve figured out a terrific way to get affordable jars! Thanks for sharing your tip that the store owners are giving you 10% off!

    2. Twice I’ve gotten groupons (or living social, I can’t remember) for Ace Hardware. $10 for $20 of merchandice makes their jars and lids even more affordable. My Ace carries canning supplies year round while the local Target is only seasonal.

      1. For my wedding we made pies in jars as seating tags/favors and my Ace hardware very willingly and helpfully special ordered me 10 cases of wide-mouth half pint jars and discounted them for me a bit. A case of 12 came to $9.59.

  • The brand available @ Wal-Mart is an all-over smooth jar, which in nice for labeling. It’s also about 20% less expensive. A case of pint jars goes for about $6.50 Weight seems to be the same. So far I have only seen them in pint and quart sizes. Last year I put the word out that I needed canning jars and my friends went to work. I got jars from thrift stores, basements and yard sales (about 5 dozen are still in my garage needing cleaning- oh for more storage). The best part was looking at all of the old jars by makers that I guess are no longer in business or were gobbled up by other manufacturers. My fav is Atlas, a sort of boxy jar.

  • I just got a great deal on a 4th burner pot. Are the wide mouth 1/2 pt jars a good fit for that? I’m excited to try some small batch canning!

    1. Diana, you can easily get two of the wide mouth half pint jars into the 4th burner pot. I do it all the time.

  • Lowe’s was selling canning supplies over the past year, at least near me in central NJ. They still had some supplies — lids, pectin and such — on New Year’s Eve on mega-clearance. A box of 10 regular lids was 41 cents, and the wide-mouth ones were (I believe) 59 cents. And while I bought a bunch of lids, I didn’t clear them out.

  • I just had a conversation with my mom about Kerr vs. Ball. My mom prefers Ball jars and thinks they are a better known brand. I have always liked Kerr – for the reason you stated – the smooth back works great for stick on labels. We are from the Pacific Northwest and I find both brands easily. I can’t wait to tell my mom that they are both made by the same company! Thanks for a very fun and interesting post.

  • Awesome write up! There are a few small, locally owned hardware stores around here that sell all types and sizes of jar. I’ve been known to hoard.

  • Those Elite Collection jars are charming, but problematic. For starters, they don’t stack, and given their large footprint that makes it hard to keep them in a pantry. I’ve also had some issues with seal on the half-pints.

  • There is a store in northeast Ohio (Northfield) called Leeners. They have a web page. They sell canning supplies among lots of other things. Their jars are smooth all over and reasonably priced. I don’t know what brand they are but they are not Ball.

  • I’ve used both Ball and Kerr jars interchangeably, using wide mouth quarts for storing dehydrated goods/dry goods/grains-beans, but I prefer the regular mouth pints, either Ball or Kerr. I just like the look of them better. I’ve even used the “Atlas Mason” jars that some spagetti sauces come in, and though they are neither a quart nor a pint (24 oz.) I have canned with them nicely, just tweaking the processing time. Where I live there are also canning jars from Italy available, but I haven’t used them since they are way too expensive and I can A LOT.

  • Hey Marisa…nice post! I can get you the Kerr half pint from my local Agway. If you want some, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Just got my first case of them and put your sweet and sour pickled red onions in them. Thought they’d be wonderful to bake in!

    I believe my local Giant had the straight sided wide mouth pints as well. I was using them for drinking glasses for a while, but have used them to can in, too. Like them better than regular pint jars simply because they seem easier to get product out of them.

    As I write this, I’m making blackberry jam in the half pint Ball Elite jars…they’re for that ‘special something’ for those ‘special someones’!

  • I must live in a canning stronghold here in Alaska. A local hardware store and two other warehouse type stores (one local, and one a NW chain) carry canning jars all year. In a town of 5000 people. Sizes get a little sparse around Christmas, but you can usually find what you need. Maybe it’s because so many people can fish here? And I do have 2 jars of Fireweed jelly in my pantry right now that were a Christmas gift. (Along with shelves full of my own canning–including a couple of leftover jars of the Ruhbarb Cranberry Chutney I made for holiday gifts.)

  • For Southern CA peeps – Smart and Final has the smooth side regular mouth Kerr jars in pints and half pints year around at very decent prices. OSH carries the Ball versions, both regular and wide mouth, with a larger size selection, but unless they are having a sale, they are pricier than S&F.

    1. Thanks for the tip. I never would have thought of S&F. I visitedy local one yesterday and they do stock the basic Kerr sizes year ’round. Pack of 12 regular lids was $2.08 which seems a decent price.

  • I like anything with a strait profile—regular halfpint, wide pint/quart. And I love the 12 ouncers. Like you, I prefer a flat surface, but for some reason the quilted jars go on sale in my area so I have a lot of them- being able to put food in the jar is more important than my personal preference!

  • Isn’t that odd; my favorite jars are the quilted ones! I hoard them and won’t give them as gifts. My local thrift store sells canning jars for $0.25 each, but it’s not often I find any. My Walmart sells their brand, Ball, and Better Homes and Garden jars, the main sizes you mentioned. I live in GA and don’t recall ever seeing Kerr for sale here. Most of my Kerr jars are second hand.

  • OMG, I thought I was the only one–preferring Kerr jars for the smooth side to accommodate my label. I see now that I am not alone.

    I’ve purchased the 1/4 pint jars from Fillmore, same reason, smooth side for the label–plus, they are just too cute.

    Here in SE Texas, Golden Harvest jars/lids/bands are sold @ Dollar General. The lids work well for me and I stock up on them annually. I have heard others say that they fail to seal sometimes.

    My local Wally World stocks canning supplies year round. I’ve seen Mainstays, BH&G, Kerr & Ball all in stock.

    I use my wide-mouth half-pints with the white storage lids for puddings. Great for portion control and toting along with a lunch.

    I also scope out the charity shops.

  • So have you noticed a difference in sizing amount the wide mouth quart jars? (Ball to be specific). Some of them will actually hold a quart, but some of them are shy. It drives me batty! The difference is in the height and the width of the bottles. It is slight, but it is there.

  • I am very lucky to have a large collection of the Blue ball jars, quite old, but I use them for dry goods all the same, many of them still have their metal lids with the ceramic interior. I love the jars you can get in the states. Because we run a sustainable farm we use glass all the time, I do a lot of bottling (canning) so i am endlessly trolling for more and thank you for this run down.. cecilia.. PS I am making your marmalade tomorrow!

  • Better Homes & Gardens came out with a quilted pint and 1/2 pint this year. I live in Des Moines, Meredith Publishing’s home town. I don’t know if they were only available locally or if they have a bigger range. I got them at Wally World. I have to say, the rings are painted white and the color started coming off on the first boil. The lids have red and white gingham “print” so it makes them difficult to read if you do what I do for labels, label the lid with a permanent marker with product and date.

  • I have several of the 1/2 gallon jars BUT, I am Leary about using them as I cannot seem to find information as to canning time length in a water bath or infor for pressure canning. I could see using them for whole chickens or stew or pickled eggs etc. any information you or anyone else may have please let me know.

    1. Tammy, those half gallon jars are only approved for canning juices. I use mine for food storage mostly, because I rarely have the need to can half gallons of juice.

      1. Thank you Marisa! I didn’t know what they were used for but I could imagin many possibilities for their uses.

        1. I use the half-gallon jars for making fruit-infused vodkas (picture lemon peel soaking in vodka for 6 weeks) and things like that where you want a non-reactive container like glass. I don’t actually can in them though. ACE Hardware sells them for about $12 for a dozen.

  • I’m so glad to read how many people are looking at where jars are made. I’m reading more and more articles and blogs and comments about people wanting to buy American. This is so important! Money spent in the US is money that stays in the US. This is something tangible we call all do to boost the economy. Personally I’m willing to pay a bit more to invest in American companies. It’s the difference between cost and value.

    I’d also encourage everyone to let companies know why you aren’t buying their foreign-made merchandise. I’m in the habit of saying “okay, thanks anyway” instead of saying “thanks but it’s important to me to buy American made products so my money stays here”. I don’t to have to be rude but I can at least try to give feedback.

    1. Beti, I think you’ve found a graceful, polite way of informing merchants that a few cents isn’t worth a few jobs. Way to go!

  • Couple things – I also really like the size and shape of these Italian jars from Sur la Table – They seal like a champ.

    Also, just bought but have not yet used these Super Sealers from GEM Cultures I feel like I thought they were BPA-free, but now I don’t see that on their website. They are non-corrosive, which is a great thing for keeping pickles in the fridge. Note that these are not for canning, but for fridge or freezer storage.

    Marisa, great post as always! And congrats on your crowning as Queen of Vegetables….:>

  • Really neat information here! I have a couple of the half gallon Kerr jars… they’re perfect for fruit-infused liqueurs. πŸ˜‰ It makes me sad to think of the random brands or shapes/sizes we’ve all picked up here or there that are no longer in production, but pretty neat to own and use a piece of history too.

  • The way to tell which (Ball/Kerr) jars are suitable for freezing is to look at the sides. Straight sides are suitable for the freezer. Any (Ball/Kerr) jar with a “shoulder” cannot be put in the freezer safely but is a appropriate for canning.

    I rather like my Ball jars and the quilted jars, no matter the jar is not smooth. On the other hand, I have 12 oz quilted jars that I just hate. I don’t know why. I have drank from two or three of them. The rest are still in the plastic wrapping, undisturbed. Maybe I will rethink my attitude.

  • I get my jars at Dollar general and my lids at the local grocery store! The jars from dollar general come with ring and lids but the lids are not good one and i dont trust them to seal.

  • I got some better homes and gardens jars at Walmart for $5 a dozen. The quart size you can actually can a whole quart unlike the Ball jars which hold a quart up to the brim. This meant I didn’t get as many jars of applesauce as I thought I would. =)

  • Do you know if the “Ball smooth jar especially made for Ball Jar Art” can be safely used for canning? Thanks…… Elaine

  • Why buy? I just use any and every jar that we empty, jam jars , peanut butter, and rather than ‘processing’ in a hot water bath we just fill the jars, stand them UPSIDE DOWN for five minutes or so. As the jam or jelly cools it reduces in volume and a powerful vacumm seals the jar.

    1. Carl, reusing jars and simply turning them upside down doesn’t actually do the work of ensuring that the contents of the jar are sterilized. Jars processed like that go bad far more often.

  • I’m a newbie, and I am wondering if it is okay to use different sizes to can the same product, i.e. canning both 4 oz and 8 oz jars of relish? How does that change the processing time? Or, for example, say that a recipe calls for a half pint jar, but I want to put it in a pint (or vice versa)? I assume that would change the processing time too, but how? Many thanks for helping me keep my food safe and delicious. πŸ™‚

    1. You can use different size jars than what the recipe suggests. Quarter pint, half pint, 12 ounce jars and pint jars get processed for the same amount of time. If you want to can in larger jars, the time increases. Quarts and 24 ounce jars are processed longer.

      1. Last night I made your peach jam. It was my first canning endeavor and went so well!!! Thanks for your careful explanations. I feel as though I am learning great skills through your cookbook and blog. I invited my mom over to help with the canning. She hasn’t canned in 20 years and was thrilled to be back at it.

        Thanks for this indication on processing different sized jars. I really like having all of the different sizes for gifts, etc.

  • I was trolling the web looking for someone I lost track of years ago and somehow ended up on this page. I thought your readers might enjoy reading about some of the history of canning jars starting from way back in 1858 when John Mason invented a machine that could cut into into threads and that led to the resuseable screw on lid. The info is located on a very informative website for those of you who grow your own or want to pick your own food-there’s state by state guide on farm stands, orchards etc. There’s also a wealth of very accurate info there for new canners including resources for canning equipment. It’s at
    As a 40+ year home canner/preserver, wine maker, master gardener/landscaper, I & my DH have been growing our own fruits and veggies for many years. At the moment I’m busy putting up the start of our 75gallon+crop of blackberries into pie filling and liqueur. We grow our own strawberries, blue&blackberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, sour cherries, apples, herbs, veggies, currants and elderberries as well as gooseberries& potted Myer Lemons with which I produce limoncello. I also make my own burgundy and several wines and my husband loves to brew beer. I’m also a county&state fair judge for home canning/preservation as well as several other categories & I teach young woman just married or new gardeners how to can/preserve their produce. To be absolutely sure of their safety and that of their families I adhere strictly to the USDA Canning/Preserving Guidelines and I recommend anyone interested in learning how to can/preserve take the USDA online course. It doesn’t take very long and having done so will give you the confidence a new canner needs to go forth into unknown territory.
    Well that’s about all. There’s lots of information out there on world wide web. Just be sure for your health and safety you make sure your sources are up to date and accurate. Bon’ appetit-)

    1. I’m wondering if the new canning jars are the same as old ones or they have cheapened them the way they have the silver bands and lids? Used jars on eBay are far more expensive than new ones which makes me wonder if the sellers just have no idea what they cost new or maybe there are people willing to pay more for the old ones?

  • Any comments on hinge-type jars, and also the Weck brand jars? I have considered buying some Weck jars (expensive, true, but very pretty!), and so far, I only use the hinge jars in my quilting studio to store supplies, but like the looks of them, too.

    Your blueberry shrub recipe is FANTASTIC!

  • Is Bernardin available in the States?

    In Canada, Bernardin does a whole wack of different sizes – litre, pint (half-litre/2-cups), 1-cup (half-pint), and half-cup jars, all with the same mouth-size.
    I like the half-cup ones for gift baskets. πŸ™‚

    1. Bernardin is the Canadian equivalent of Ball and Kerr (they are all owned by the same parent company). The jars are precisely the same, they’ve just got a different name.

      1. I don’t think they are exactly the same size. I have some taller pint size made by Bernardin, there is a distinct size difference. I think it’s because Canada uses metric measurements instead of imperial.

  • canned bread and butter pickles. the cukes settled and now the jar is half filled. is it possible to open jar, fill and reprocess. will this effect the flavor. is it safe?

    1. You don’t want to do that, because a second trip through the boiling water bath will result in soggy, mushy pickles. They won’t last as long in half full jars, but you’ve still got many months before they start to lose quality.

  • Trying to make green tomato relish with onion, green peppers, cinnaman, allspice, cloves, brown sugar, white sugar, and vinegar. Online recipes say to mix everything together in a pot on stove (after salt overnight). I however, dissolved vinegar sugars and spices in pot. Wondering if it is okay to add the remaining ingredients and heat through, then add to hot jar for a hot water bath.

    1. I just got out my recipe card for a similar pickle/relish and the directions were —
      Slice tomatoes, peppers and onions thin. Sprinkle with salt. Let stand overnight in a crock. Drain well. Add the seasonings to the vinegar, add the tomatoes, pepper, and onion. Simmer for one-half hour, stirring gently at intervals to prevent burning. Remove spice bag (the whole spices are tied up in a piece of cheesecloth which lets the flavor out, but doesn’t leave the whole spices in the pickles). Pack in sterilized jars and seal.

      Hope this helps…

  • This may be a silly question but I can’t seem to find the answer online.
    I am currently making your marinara sauce as have run out of pint jars. The only pint jars I have are old (all in great condition and no cracks) and maybe antique. They are samco and presto brand. Are they safe to use? I’m also using Tattler lids. Thanks for any feedback!

  • have you heard of Stonehaven? do they make jars or canning equipment? I can’t seem to locate them anywhere.

  • In either raw or hot pack, would it be okay to put tomatoes in half pint jars? I need so little at at time that pints and quarts are a waste except on occasion.

  • I have a question about the Ball 1/2 gallon jars. Can I pressure can soup and broth in them? I really don’t see why not, but I can’t find a reference to it anywhere? Do I just add 5 minutes to the processing time? Thanks in advance for the answer. A quart of soup just wouldn’t do for my family! πŸ™‚

    1. You actually can’t use those half gallon jars for anything besides juice. That’s why you don’t find instruction on how to use them for any other recipe.

    2. The why not is because there is a concern that when using jars that large there could be cold pockets in the ingredients. Because no testing has been done due to less demand for it, they are not recommended for canning anything but juice.

  • Any advice on using the old wire clamp, glass top Ball and Mason jars for canning? I am not sure if it would be worth the trouble but I have a number of them collected at yard sales over the years. I use them for infusions and syrups and wondered about the possibility of canning in them. Any thoughts? Similarly the blue glass Ball jars with aluminum lids.
    Also, BTW, I have a new and wonderful use for the 4th burner pot — dulce de leche. I have made it for years with much guilt since I need a pasta pot full of water boiling for 3 hours in order to keep my can of condensed milk submerged.

    1. Lori, you can still can in the old wire clamp jars. I wrote a blog post about them here:

      Canning in the old blue glass jars isn’t recommended anymore. Often the rims are thick and uneven, which can make for a poor seal. And it is definitely not advised to use the old zinc lids.

      That’s brilliant idea, to use the 4th burner pot to make dulce de leche. So smart!

      1. Thanks much. This is my first season canning and I have been working my way thru many of your recipes. I wish I could make it to your Brooklyn Kitchen event. It is a great place and I know you will have an appreciative crowd.

      2. Got the same jars with glass lids and the wire around i need to use some type of gasket. Or just the wire. Just decided to try out canning or jams. So im clueless. But i really like the look of the glass lids and wire.

    2. I haven’t tried it but I saw someone use their crockpot instead of boiling water! Not sure the specifics but it looked absolutely delicious!!!!

  • Fantastic info! My favorite size right now is the kerr pint and a half, its the perfect big water glass πŸ™‚

  • I’m coming to this late–can anyone tell me if the Kerr half pint jars have a smooth side? I bought some Ball ones and was disappointed to find there wasn’t one–I’m using the jars for a craft and want a smooth side for etching. I also have Ball plastic caps to use on them, not sure if they would fit Kerr jars. Thank you!

    1. Ball and Kerr jars are made by the same company, so the lids and rings are interchangeable. The Kerr jars have a smooth side, whereas the Ball jars don’t.

  • Hi! I read your post from a couple years ago about Penley Mason Jars. I got so excited because I have spent many of hours researching to find “Mason” jars with the name “Mason” large wih out the Kerr or Ball logo. Reason being is my son “Mason” is turning 1 and want to use them for drinking glasses at his party. So am a super sad to see that they didnt go through. Is it true? Do you know where I can get some like the Penley’s..??? THEY WERE PERFECTLY WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR πŸ™

    Thanks if you can help in any way πŸ™‚

    1. Unfortunately, the Penley company was bought by Ball before they were able to sell nationwide and they’re not available anymore.

    2. A bit late the party, but hopefully someone can benefit from my reply… several spaghetti sauce brands use Mason jars. I just emptied a Prego pizza sauce jar and noticed this.

  • I have a few Kerr half-gallons, standard mouth. Got ’em at an outlet store years ago, probably late 80’s or early 90’s. I think I got two boxes, I think there were 9 jars in each box. I’ll have to look in my attic, I think I kept the boxes for storage. I use them for juice mainly.

    I recently got 2 sets of the new Ball spice jars @ Wally World. They are the cute little quarter pints with shaker lids. They are embossed with the Ball name on one side and smooth on the other side, great for labeling.

    I also just bought a set of these:
    Why are they so darned expensive??? If I hadn’t had a gift certificate coupled with free shipping, I’d have likely passed on them.

    1. “71.1
      Marisa says:
      October 2, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      You actually can’t use those half gallon jars for anything besides juice. That’s why you don’t find instruction on how to use them for any other recipe.”

      So yes, you can use the biggest jars for anything except canning. I and everyone I know keep our flours, nuts, cereals, other dry goods, etc in the biggest jars.

      1. I guess I should have said, “You can’t can anything in those half gallon jars besides juice.” However, you can use them to store anything you want.

  • Looking online, some jars are specifically listed as ‘canning jars’ while others are not. Is there a difference? The jars are Ball and Kerr brands. I’ve noticed that the ‘canning jars’ are also wide mouth. Is that just a convenient feature, and perhaps why they are labeled ‘canning jars’? Thanks!

  • Hi Marisa,

    I was given some Quattro Stagioni jars as a gift (they’re available at Sur La Table) and I think they’re really pretty–but are they safe to use for canning? The lids are all one piece (rather than lids and rings) so I wasn’t sure. Also, since they’re Italian the sizing is slightly different… Thanks for your advice!

    PS I am a new canner, but I bought your book because you made it seem so fun and easy, and I loved the gorgeous pictures! I did your canned peaches with bourbon last week and (I think) they turned out great! Anyway, I was searching for info about jars and was happy to find your website.

    1. Regarding the Quattro Stagioni jars….my understanding is they can be processed with a Water Bath canning method but not pressure canned. I am planning on ordering some as they have BPA free lids and look easier to can with than the Tattler lids I’ve been using. I do think the smaller sizes don’t line up with the small mouth size jars but I have read the wide mouth lids might work on the Quattro Stagioni jars.

      That said, I just discovered newer Kerr and Ball Regular sized are now BPA free. (I haven’t found any WIDE mouth lids that say they are BPA free yet). This is good because I can a large amount of produce and can’t afford to replace all my Mason, Ball, Kerr and Atlas jars!

      I think every year I’ll buy a dozen “new” jars like the Quattro Stagioni or Weck jars and in 10 years I should have a pretty nice collection! Best wishes on your canning adventures.

  • Interesting article. I was looking to buy some mason jars for the first time ever today, was looking for Ball jars to be specific ( I guess because I’m from back east and it’s what I thought was best??) but all I could find was Kerr jars out here in the west. πŸ™‚
    I’d be very interested in a couple of the “quilted” ones as large as I could get up, 16 or 32 oz but I’ve never seen them.
    I want them to keep juice in. I make green juice.
    Anyway thanks, I learned something new today πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, you can absolutely pressure can in them. They say freezer jars on them simply because the wide mouth straight sided jars are good for both canning and freezing.

    1. The pint and a half jar wasn’t available at the time when I wrote this post. I should really update it to include it! πŸ™‚

  • Just discovered your website after making my first two batches of Pepper Jelly (red & green mixed sweet). I used the proportions (2+ c. cut peppers, 2 c. cider vinegar, 2 pouches Certo pectin) from my mother’s very old recipe and used a makeshift hot water canner for the first time (my Mother just used wax to seal). I also tried a trick of using 1 tsp of butter to reduce the amount of foam on top of the hot jelly and it seems to have worked out well. The jelly tastes delicious and each batch made 7+ jars.

    One question…. how do you get the hot jelly into the jars? I put the hot jar onto a small plate, held it over the big pot of jelly and used a black plastic soup ladle with a spout on either side of the “bowl”. I dipped it into the boiling water used to sterilize the jars to sanitize it first. Any other ideas? Many thanks.

  • I can’t seem to find heavy duty jars. (Am I using the right term?) I want ones that are a bit thicker and less apt to break. I’ve also heard they’re only available in certain sizes. Can you help me find them?

  • Hi. I stumbled on this site while looking for a comparison chart for various brands of canning jars. Funny to learn that there is one factory in the US that make all. Not surprising however. My question is regarding a wide mouth quart jar I used yesterday. The brand name is Best and it is said to be made in Canada. I’ve never heard of this brand before and didn’t even notice it in the box of Kerrs. I was pressure canning soup and when I took off the lid of the canner after the processing time, there sat a jar with no lid or ring on it. I don’t think I forgot to screw down the lid and upon closer inspection afterwards the lid and jar seems to fit tightly. Now I’m wondering if anyone else had had this experience and what could have been the cause. This has never happened to me in thirty years of canning. Thanks.

    1. Kerr and Ball are both owned by the same corporation. Kerr products are really only distributed west of the Rocky Mountains. If you live in the eastern part of the world, you will only find Ball. However, they are identical lids, so know that you’ll be getting the same quality.

  • I am going home to Canada from Aus,and would like to stock up on lids to bring home as ours are outrageously expensive. Can you tell me if the Bernardin is the same size lid as the Ball and can be interchanged?

    1. Most of the Bernardin lids are the same size. They do have a third size that is in between a regular mouth and a wide mouth that won’t fit any Ball jars. As long as you read carefully and avoid the GEM sized lids, the lids you buy in Canada will fit all the Ball jars.

  • Thanks for the very informative article. I do have a question though. I want to use these for storage. Do you know the dimensions for each jar in inches, or a website that does have them? I have been looking and for some reason not having any luck. Thank you for your help. Sue

  • I just bought the 4th burner pot for small batch canning. Since you stack 2 wide mouth half pint jars in it how to you heat up the jars before you fill them? Does one empty jar sit on top of the other empty jar in the boiling water without cracking?

  • I have a question. I just bought a hand built light fixture from someone on etsy. Based on your photos I would guess he used the ball regular mouthed quart jar to Incase the lightbulb. Unfortunately the only bulbs that fit inside that jar length-wise are very little 40 W bulbs. I want to get a larger jar. But it has to fit the same size lid. Do you know any jars that share the same size lid? Thanks! So grateful for your article and the pictures.

  • I would like to know if the size of the mouth of all of the jars (ball and kerr) are the same. I mean is it possible to use accessories made for wide mouth jars interchangeably?


  • My favorite canning jars are the 24-32 oz ones that I get after consuming the Classico Pasta Sauce. It’s free and it lasts near forever.

  • I make homemade pasta sauce and can it for easy weeknight meals. Is it OK to can 16 oz of sauce in a 24 oz jar? I’m finding that 24 oz is too much for one meal.

    1. You don’t want to can 16 ounces of sauce in a 24 ounce jar. The jars may float in the canner and break because of the amount of air space. It’s better to get 16 ounce jars.

  • There is also an elite 4oz jar. It is the same dimensions as the Ball 4ox quilted but smooth.
    I also like the Ball 1 1/2 pint. Perfect size for soups and spaghetti sauce.

  • I just found the 1/2 pint wide mouth Kerr jars at Walmart. I got a dozen for sous vide egg bites. Maybe I should’ve grabbed the other box.

  • I love your site. This is my first year canning, I have stuck to jams but maybe next year I’ll try whole fruit and tomatoes :). Anyways, I live in Texas and have bought anchor brand jars, which are a few dollars cheaper than Ball and Kerr, which I can find both at Walmart too. Have you heard of that brand before? After not finding them on this post I wonder if they are not the best quality, hence the price, and should stick with a Ball/Kerr?

    1. Those Anchor brand jars are totally fine. They’re just not as widely available (and weren’t in production at the time of the writing of this post).

  • Anyone know anything about Jardin jars?

    You see them sold all over the internet. Colored jars, often sold as “Vintage” that are labelled “not food safe”. The jars usually say “Est. 1946” on the front, but I cannot find any other sign of a “Jardin” company behind these jars!!

    It is so weird for the magic of “Google” to fail me! Can any one give me any information on Jardin jars and where they came from??

    1. Those are decorative jars, not canning jars. They might look like mason jars but the color is typically painted on and so isn’t food safe.

  • Thanks for all this info.
    I’ve been canning for years, and am so happy to finally find your books in Europe, as mine are in storage in PA.
    Canning is not a big thing in Ireland, so jars are very difficult to find. I paid a fortune for two boxes of Ball jars through before Brexit. They have some Kilner jars here, and one pint is €4. So we searched and found Weck jars. One pint is €2.60, and once you buy the clamps you’re set. Here are my questions I am hoping you can answer.
    Can you reuse the rubber ring? If you can, do you recommend that?
    If I look through the glass lid and SEE it is sealed, does that mean it’s sealed? How do I know? (sadly disappointing not to hear the pop of lids sealing.)
    Do you take the clamps off to store these jars as you would a ring? That seems a little risky.
    I have used exactly one of these jars while I was canning other things as a test. Are there any tips you would offer?

    I have purchased about 10 of your books as I have two sets, and given many as gifts. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Small batches are so much fun, and I can make all manner of things. I used to feed 9 people at every meal, and 25 years ago I used those wonderful 1/2 gallon jars to can tomatoes. Such a time saver since I always used 2 quarts at a time. I had to get an additional water bath pot since I couldn’t fit as many in at a time. Nothing like standing over a hot stove belching steam on a hot Philly afternoon in August.
    I just made your herbed salt for my husband (my personal chef!) the pickled sweet cherries, the marinara, and my cucumbers are in the fridge with salt for B and B pickles. The pickles have been very successful in the past, and I am stocking up as people who try them want to take a jar home and it’s fun to give them one. I sincerely hope you have as much fun writing those beautiful books as I have reading, and using them. They are the only cookbooks I’ve ever read cover to cover,
    Hoping you can answer these questions!

    1. While it’s not recommended by the USDA, I have reused the Weck seals before and found that they still perform. Just make sure to make sure that they aren’t cracked or inflexible before you use them. And you do want to remove the clamps for storage. If you can Weck jars properly, the seal will remain solid for years (I know, I just had to throw out some peach butter from 2015 that was canned in Weck jars. Those seals were still super strong, but sadly the butter was flavorless). You can tell that Weck seals are good because the rubber tab will be pointing down. When you remove the clips, the lid will stay firmly in place. It might also be helpful to read through this post:

      And thank you for the very kind words about my books. Each one represents a huge amount of work but I do love creating the recipes and writing the stories that go with them.

  • Thank you. Your information here, and on your Weck blog post is exactly what I needed.
    I’m finding the farmers markets here to be wonderful sources for things to can, and it rather stunning how much more energy I have to preserve things when I didn’t have to grow them first. It doesn’t have quite the satisfaction in the end, and they still taste pretty darn good.
    Keep writing. I’ll keep buying your books. πŸ™‚

  • Thanks for the information here.

    Have a question. I have some Atlas Mason jars (1 pint) that held spaghetti sauce. Is there anywhere that I can get replacement lids—of any kind—for them.