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whats the cheapest way to buy canning jars?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I am planning on doing some serious canning this fall for the first time. We are moving off grid and wont have a freezer...So I am thinking about getting 100-200 jars, a mix of pint and quart. Any ideas?


post #2 of 23
post #3 of 23
post #4 of 23
Thrift stores.

I bought mine online. I just checked around for the best price for my canner and then bought jars from them also. make sure you research shipping also - that can be what drives the price up.
post #5 of 23
I've never canned before, but (God willing) my first garden ever will actually produce enough to warrant canning....so, silly question- can I reuse jelly (or other) jars?
I've been saving glass jars for a while now and I know someday I'll actually use them, right?
post #6 of 23
Depends on the kind of lids that the jars you're saving take. When I was growing up, mayonnaise came in glass jars that we could use canning lids/rings on, so we always saved them.

My suggestion is to put the word out in your extended network. I mentioned to a neighbor that I was planning to do a good bit of canning this year and she gave me 6+ dozen jars - a mix of quart and pint. Granted, they had been sitting outside under a tree in her yard for who knows how long, and cleaning them has been a big ol' chore ... but they were FREE!!! Woohoo!!
post #7 of 23
That's a lot of canning jars!

Ours have come from the grocery store, Big Lots, garage sales, estate sales, freecycle. You might also try craigslist. We probably have over 100 jars, but have picked them up a few or a dozen at a time.
post #8 of 23
I've sometimes gotten mine at the hardware store.

I don't really know which place has them for less; I just pick up a box at a time here and there.

Definitely try freecycle!!
post #9 of 23
You can order canning jars on-line. But the shipping is going to be steep. Try local grocery stores. Some areas have better canning supplies than others. But pint and quart jars are quite common. Sometimes, though, only during a certain season. Hardware stores also often have them.
post #10 of 23
I have found discount stores to be the cheapest actually (other than people giving them away). Our thrift stores try to charge a dollar or more a jar when you can get a dozen for $6-8 at, say, Walmart or Zellers or grocery/hardware stores. Shop around and compare prices.

Most of mine have been given to me by other people who no longer have an interest in canning. Ask around!!
post #11 of 23

start asking now

on Freecycle. I have seen a lot of people get canning jars this way. also if you know any older people- put the word out to all your friends and family. I have done this. I ended up having to clean a bunch of dead spiders out of them but did not end up having to spend any money on jelly jars : )
post #12 of 23
I just received 6 dozen jars off of freecycle.

As the pp stated, they often will not be in the best of shape. I mean, you may have to invest some time in getting them very clean. But you can beat *free*!!

Good luck with your canning venture... and moving off grid.
post #13 of 23
I asked elderly friends/neighbors/family members. If you don't want to outright ask for them, just mention you are wanting to can and ask them if they know anything about it, most of them get so excited of the prospect of getting the cans out of their attic/basement, you could be going home with them that day Most of that generation never throws things like that away, so just about every person I asked over 70 had some.

Some of the older cans are really neat too. Fun to look at.
post #14 of 23
Um, not to burst your bubble, but you're going to need a bit more jars than that if you plan to can how I assume...
We've probably got... *at least* 300+ jars in our pantry... I had 70 quarts alone of just applesauce this year, and I was actually aiming for 100... add in all the other stuff I can, and yeah.

You can do craigslist and freecycle and post flyers at the library or whatnot... a neighbor of mine swears by St. Vinnie's. But. My problem with used jars is chips and cracks that I don't see because I have 2 kids with me at almost all times, so I don't have time to inspect every single jar. And let me tell you, exploding jars in the water bath canner are not fun. Not fun at all. So I've gotten really anal about inspecting everything before I try using them again, and have just been buying them new so I don't have to deal with unusable (at least for canning) jars. My local grocery store sells canning jars for $6-$8/dozen (half-pint to quart) - almost the same price as Walmart. Now if you find a screaming deal on the lids, let me know - that's where my current problem is... :

Oh, and you'll probably want/need more pints than quarts, unless you have a bigger family. Pints and half pints of jam do better around here, same with relish and soups (like hubby can take a pint of soup/stew to work and not have to worry about it being too little or too much). Applesauce and pie fillings and green beans and so on tend to do better in quarts, especially as my boys keep eating more and more. *sigh*
post #15 of 23
I have them in all sizes from 4 oz to half gallon. I can find them at Long's Drugs right now for a good price. They carry them year round but right now they have an entire aisle devoted to them. I can also find them at the hardware store, they have an entire canning section with pressure canners, water canners, lids and jars. If you're going to buy them, I recommend getting wide-mouth jars in all the sizes. They're easier to fill and clean than the narrow-mouth jars. You won't really have that option if you're not buying them new though.

Asking friends and family, freecycle, thrift stores are all great places to get them for cheap. Like a pp mentioned, mayo used to come in glass jars that you could can in. TJ's canola mayo still does. Most other mayos come in plastic now. But if you buy any jams, jellies, pickles, olives, PB, spaghetti sauce, anything like that in a standard sized jar (most of them don't come that way, but some do), then the jars are reusable. When I was a kid, we used to seal our jam with wax rather than 2 part lids (which meant we could use any jar), but since I don't use a ton of sugar in my jams now, I can't safely do that. If you have a dishwasher, once you've cleaned any dried on crud off them, run them through to make sure they're really clean. Then inspect them for chips and cracks before putting anything in them. If they are chipped or cracked, depending on the location, they could be used for dry storage, or they might need to go right into recycling.

For jams, I usually use 8 or 12 oz jars. If I'm making jams as gifts (where I'll give a couple different flavors), that's where I'll use the 4 oz jars. Pints are what I use for things we might only use occasionally, like pickled beets or relish, even tomatoes which don't keep well in the fridge... a half-pint is too small, but a quart is too much. Quarts are used for things we go through (and keep well in the fridge). Like canned fruits, pickled asparagus/green beans, rendered fat, etc. I don't use the half gallons for canning at this point... but I know my grandma used them for juices.
post #16 of 23
I don't know what your area has in the way of Amish or Mennonite communities, but most will have a bulk general dry goods store in their community, or just outside of their community. That's where I go to get mine and I believe last year for pints and jelly size jars I paid less than $5 for a dozen each.
post #17 of 23
Originally Posted by UnassistedMomma View Post
I don't know what your area has in the way of Amish or Mennonite communities, but most will have a bulk general dry goods store in their community, or just outside of their community. That's where I go to get mine and I believe last year for pints and jelly size jars I paid less than $5 for a dozen each.

OT- a friend (the guy that runs our CSA) knows lots of Amish and quart canning jars are a traditional Amish wedding gift. You give them to newlyweds both with and without canned goods in them to help them through their first year together.
post #18 of 23
Craigslist or freecycle, garage sales probably would be cheapest. I buy mine from azurestandard.com so a bit of a discount but not nearly as cheap as I could probably get them from CL or FC if I was not so lazy.
post #19 of 23
I used freecycle and garage sales for ours. We have around 8-10 cases plus quite a few loose jars.

I like the wide mouth best, but I'll take any that people want to "hand-down" to me.

Just check the rim for cracks and chips before you use them!
post #20 of 23
Originally Posted by KariM View Post
I used freecycle and garage sales for ours.
Yep, this. Yard sales are great - I got about 2 dozen pint jars for a buck a few weeks ago.
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