Mason jars are best choice for home canning

Published 11:08 pm Saturday, July 9, 2016

By Callie Nelson

Callie is the agent coordinator for the Dallas County Extension Office.


Canning fruits, vegetables and pickles are big business here in Dallas County. Every year many home food preservers ask the same question, “Can mayonnaise jars or jars other than mason jars be used in home food preservation?” The answer is NO.

Pattie West, a regional food safety agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System offers several reasons why they should not be used.

These include:

1. Metal knives are commonly used to scrape the last bit of peanut butter or mayonnaise from a commercial jar. These may scratch the inside of the jar and leave a weak spot where it could break during canning.

2. Commercial jars are lighter weight and contain less glass than home canning jars.

3. Commercial jars are sometimes larger than standard home canning jars and, if food is home-canned in these jars according to standard processing time, the food may be under processed and spoil.

4. Commercial jars are frequently made for a food product that is packed cold. Therefore, these jars may not withstand the high temperatures used in home canning.

5. Commercial jars are made to seal with one-piece caps and may not seal properly with a two-piece home canning cap.

Regular and wide-mouth mason canning jars are the best choice for home canning. Mason jars are manufactured to withstand the temperatures required to process foods that is needed to kill harmful bacteria. Mason jars are available in ½ pints, 1 pint, 1 ½ pint and quart sizes. Wide-mouth jars have openings of about three inches making them easier to clean, fill and empty. You may also be able to find half gallon jars that can be used to can juices. However, there are no processing times for this size jar for fruits and vegetables.

With careful use and handling, mason jars may be reused many times for several years, making them a great value for the cost of purchasing them. When these jars are used properly with self-sealing lids, jar seals and vacuums are excellent and jar breakage is rare.

For more information on canning, sign up and attend our upcoming Canning Workshop on Thursday, July 21 from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Westwood Baptist Church in Selma or you may contact our office at (334) 875-3200 or visit us on the web at for free downloadable publications.