Home canning has been a method for home food preservation for a very long time. Many of us are just learning this important skill. Learn all about the sizes of canning jars so you know what to use along with more important home canning tips!
Learning how to preserve your own food is an exciting adventure. There are many methods of food storage and preservation including freezing, dehydrating, pickling, drying, and more. But one of the most popular ways to save food for later is canning it.
Many types of food can be canned at home, including:
- Jams and jellies
- Soups and stews
- Stock and broth
- and so much more!
There are two ways to preserve food by canning at home:
- Boiling-water Canning- A large, deep pot with a lid that completely covers jars with water. A rack sits on the bottom to keep the jars away from direct heat to avoid jar breakage. Many fruit-base recipes, like jams and jellies, use a boiling water bath.
- Pressure Canning- A special pressure canner pot with a lid that locks in place and a pressure gauge. This method is used for non-acidic vegetables, poultry, fish, and meat.
Both methods require glass canning jars! Continue on to learn about the various canning jars sizes and what each size is meant for. Canning is an enjoyable activity and the reward of having your own food stock on your pantry shelves is amazing.
However, home canning must be taken seriously and done correctly to ensure the proper outcome. Once you understand all about glass mason jars and their various sizes, you’ll be ready to start with canning your own foods!
What exactly are canning jars? Glass jars have become popular recently for more than just holding food. They’re often useful in home decor, craft projects, as drink glasses, flower vases, storing dry goods, and more. They’re very versatile!
Once you grow your collection of canning jars, you’ll find yourself using them for all sorts of things around the home. There’s no point in letting them sit and collect dust when you’re not filling them with food.
However, this can cause some confusion when it comes to real canning jars! Some of the jars sold in craft and thrift stores say “mason” on them so that they have the old-fashion look. But these are not real canning jars!
It’s imported that you only use real canning jars when water-bath or pressure canning food. Although the decorative jars in the stores are beautiful, they might not necessarily be made for canning food.
Always purchase canning jars from companies that specialize in making them, including Ball, Kerr, Le Parfait, Weck, and others. You can purchase at the grocery store, health food stores, hardware stores, and online where canning supplies are sold.
Canning jars come in a wide variety of different sizes of jars including:
- 4 oz. jelly
- 8 oz. half-pint
- 16 oz. pint
- 32 oz. quart
- 64 oz. half-gallon
It’s very important that you always follow a recipe exactly and use the correct size of jar that the recipe calls for. Keep reading to learn about each size and what it is typically used for.
4 Ounce Jelly Jars
The smallest canning jars available are cute little 4 ounce jars, also known as jelly jars. This is because they are ideal for canning homemade jams and jellies. They’re the perfect size for sharing your homemade treat with friends and family.
Jelly jars are a good size to use for recipes including:
- Dipping sauces
- When you want a small portion of food
Jelly jars only come in the regular-mouth lid size, more on that later. 4 ounce canning jars are also freezer safe if you don’t want to water-bath or pressure can your food and want to freeze it instead.
I love to use a smaller jar like this when I’m canning different foods to set aside for gifts and sharing with others. Everyone loves to receive a little jar of jam along with a freshly baked loaf of bread!
8 Ounce Half Pint Jars
Half pint jars are the next size up at 8 ounces. They’re also nice and small and perfect for sharing! Some foods that are meant for the 8 oz jar include:
- Pizza sauce
This size jar is also freezer safe. They are available in both regular and wide-mouth.
I like to use to use these for canning our smoked salmon to share with friends. It’s the perfect amount to mix up some salmon dip!
16 Ounce Pint Jars
Pint jars are a nice medium size jar for canning many different types of food such as:
- Jams and jellies
- Pie fillings
The 16 ounce jar is available as regular mouth jars and wide mouth jars, depending on what you prefer and what you’re canning. The wide-mouth version is freezer safe.
The pint jar is probably the most commonly used jar size. I definitely purchase this size the most often! We use it for canning turkey, bear, and caribou meat as well as our smoked salmon.
Having ready-to-use meat on hand makes for a super fast and healthy meal, no thawing necessary! I can just dump it into a soup or stew to heat up a little and we’re set.
I also like to can jam for our family in this size jar with a wide-mouth lid since our family of six uses a lot of jam! And it’s perfect for homemade pie filling to make a quick pie.
32 Ounce Quart Jars
These larger jars are also available in regular and wide mouth. Because of their size, they won’t work for every type of food for the home canner but these are the most common:
- Sliced fruit
- Tomato pasta sauce
- Stocks and broths
Canning homemade stock and broth to have available to make soups and stews any time is so convenient. Also making soups and stews and canning them in quart jars means a quick, healthy meal that just needs to be heated up.
64 Ounce Half Gallon Jars
Half gallon jars are the largest mason jar so there aren’t as many uses as with the small jars. However, they are perfect for liquids such as:
- Apple juice
- Grape juice
- Stocks and broths
We keep lots of half-gallon jars on hand for keeping our cow’s raw milk in but I don’t use them very often for canning. I typically use the 32 ounce quart jars for canning stock.
Regular-Mouth Canning Jars or Wide-Mouth Jars?
Canning jars are available in regular-mouth or wide-mouth. The mouth size that you choose will depend on your preference but also on the type of food you are going to be canning. Here’s a general idea of which type to choose:
Regular-mouth- This is a smaller opening so works best with pourable foods, such as:
- Small vegetables
- Pie fillings
Wide-mouth- These jars with larger openings work best with foods that much be put into the jar by hand, including:
- Whole vegetables
- Larger fruits
As always, consult the recipe that you will be following. It will usually tell you the best choice of jar size and mouth size for the food you will be canning.
Home Canning Tips
Here are some more tips to get you started on your home canning adventure!
- Always follow a recipe exactly! It has been tested to be safe and home canning is not the time to try to be original and come up with your own recipe. Some recipes will allow you to adjust certain aspects of the ingredients but overall, you must follow the measurements and processing time exactly. Follow each step as written to ensure the safety of your food.
- No matter what size mason jar you are using, always check each jar to make sure it is free of any cracks or chips! You don’t want to use jars with damage ever when canning at home.
- Be sure to use new lids as they are meant for one-time use only. Once a lid seals a jar, it cannot be reused. The screw bands, however, can be reused as long as they are not rusty.
- Check recipes for the right jar size that you should use as well as the size of the mouth, regular or wide.
- Do not use glass jars purchased from craft or hobby stores that meant for decoration. And do not use antique canning jars either. Only use authentic canning jars purchased from a reputable brand that can be used with new canning lids and bands.
- Canning jars cannot be used in dry heat, such as an oven.
- Canning jars can break under extreme temperature changes. Always set hot jars on a surface such as a towel or a cutting board, not a cold counter.
- Use plastic or coated utensils when working with canning jars to avoid scratching or damaging them.
- When using jars that are freezer safe to freeze foods instead of canning, always leave at least 1/2 inch of headspace to allow for expansion.
Sizes of Canning Jars
Home food preservation is an important, useful skill as well as an enjoyable activity. Opening your pantry to see rows of brightly colored jars full of delicious, healthy food is a beautiful sight.
Whether you’re canning food you grew and harvested or or purchased from the local farmer’s market, learning how to preserve it using home canning methods will reduce waste and provide wholesome, quick meals for your family.
Don’t let home canning scare you! Choose the right jar and follow recipe directions exactly and you’ll be on your way to safely canning on your own.