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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We found a total of 125 canning jars the other day at a recycling bin. Most of them are pints, all but two were usable and in good condition. This lot brings our scavenged jar count up over 500. We stuffed them in the trunk as you can see.



I hate to have to scrub jars while I'm in the middle of canning, there's usually plenty else to do when I have two bushels of beans ready.

First we clean them really well with hot water, soap, steel wool, and a long brush with a scouring pad at the end. We let them sit upside down for 30 minutes and then turn them over to air dry for a day or so.

Then we wrap them in shrink wrap so they stay clean until we are ready to use them. This storage method makes them a little easier to break, but it's the best way we've found to store large amounts of jars.

We use "professional food wrap film" that we get from Sams. It's $13 for the 12 inch film and $17 for the 18 inch film (3,000 and 4,500 square feet) and both of them are very handy.



We start by wrapping 6 jars at a time. One complete turn is all you need for the first wrap.



It takes some practice to flip 6 jars over at a time, but use the box as a guide and it's not too hard. Line them up against the box and pull the wrap down around the front of them nice and tight, this keeps them from moving so much. I do best when I hold both sides like this, my thumbs hold the back jar while my pinkie holds the front ones. Just one full flip makes them ready for the next step.




Then we put two of the 6 jar packs together to make a case of 12. I like to use the 18 inch film to wrap the case width one full turn, then I switch back to the 12 inch film and wrap it again long ways for a very strong and dust proof seal.



After cleaning and wrapping they are ready to use whenever we need them. I still can't believe someone threw these out.



I figure it costs around a penny to wrap between 30 and 40 dozen jars, so it doesn't cost as much as it seems like it would. I've wrapped melons, paintbrushes, pies, leftovers, and jars for 2 years and I still have over half a roll of wrap left.

Where else do you find cheap or free jars?

Any other storage suggestions?
 

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MachineMacabre
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Yard sales mostly. I really like wrapping the jars, that'd be a lot better than storing them in cardboard boxes in the barn!:thumb:
 

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drive a stake thru Islam
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Well to start, thanks for taking the time to make a great post. This is a wnderful idea to store jars as I find myself cleaning them again and again before use; this will help tremndously. Unfortunatly I dont have any ideas on where to find jars other than yard sales or flea markets occasionally the dollar store or Big Lots will have a really good sale and I will buy 5 or 6 dozen.
 

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friends & family, freecycle & craigslist are the only other places i can think of in addition to what you are already doing and what others have suggested.
 

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Really great post XS29L! I can't believe someone threw those out. Your gain though. That's quite the find though, as someone new to canning I've been gathering up jars, and that's a small fortune there.

I really like how you wrapped them. That's an ingenious idea. When you go to use them do you wash them again? Or just heat them up if you're going to hot pack, and just use them if you're cold packing?
 

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Any other storage suggestions?

I keep my dried beans, pasta, rice, oats, grits etc in canning jars. Only the stock that I keep for routine use. I can reuse the jars for their original purpose one day and they look pretty on the shelves in the dining room. At least prettier than the bags, boxes, tubs and buckets that go in the basement pantry. You could store cornmeal, spices, flour, ....
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you guys for the suggestions and kind words.


Yard sales mostly. I really like wrapping the jars, that'd be a lot better than storing them in cardboard boxes in the barn!:thumb:
I really like boxes better, but it's hard to find the right sized boxes and they get tore up after a while. Boxes also give a little buffer between jars so they don't bang around and get broken.

friends & family, freecycle & craigslist are the only other places i can think of in addition to what you are already doing and what others have suggested.
Good thing to bring up! I have been offered jars by 4 different family members, and I even got some for Christmas last year. If you get the word out, it's hard to tell how many you will come up with.

When you go to use them do you wash them again? Or just heat them up if you're going to hot pack, and just use them if you're cold packing?
I always check them really good for dust or other nasty things since they are usually in storage for a while. I figure the canning process sterilizes the jars, but I always look for bugs or even mouse chewings etc. If one jar is dirty, I usually wash all 12 again before we use them.

I keep my dried beans, pasta, rice, oats, grits etc in canning jars. Only the stock that I keep for routine use. I can reuse the jars for their original purpose one day and they look pretty on the shelves in the dining room. At least prettier than the bags, boxes, tubs and buckets that go in the basement pantry. You could store cornmeal, spices, flour, ....
We bought a bunch of half gallon jars and they are really nice for that. If I ever get to remodel the kitchen I want to put up shelves just for canning jar storage. The blue jars and the old zinc and ceramic lids are my favorite to store things in, but they aren't easy to find cheap now days. My very favorite thing to put in old canning jars is old marbles. :thumb:
 

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Looks like rain to me.
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XS29L,

You mention 1/2 gallon jars. Are lids available for them and how do you adjust a canning time for them?



Another 5 Star thread. :thumb:
 

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Free Mason
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XS29L,

You mention 1/2 gallon jars. Are lids available for them and how do you adjust a canning time for them?

I use 1/2 gallon jars for all my dry storage. I add an O2 absorber and vacuum seal them with an adapter from FoodSaver.

I used to can in them 25 years ago but the canning guides do not recommend canning in them now because sometimes the center of the jar did not get hot enough. I have forgotten if you processed them for 15 or 30 minuets more than quarts.

The lids are the same as pints or quarts. My old jars were regular mouths and the last 30 dozen have been wide mouth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You mention 1/2 gallon jars. Are lids available for them and how do you adjust a canning time for them?
The half gallons I bought use the regular widemouth lids. They used to even make half gallons with narrow mouth tops, but those jars are impossible to clean. I always thought it was funny that you could use the same lid for either a half pint or half gallon.

Here's where I got the half gallon jars, they were $9.80 for a case of 6 the last time I checked. Shipping was free to my local Doit Center and I didn't have to pay tax either.
http://doitbest.com/Canning+jars+and+supplies-Jarden+Home+Brands-model-68100-doitbest-sku-612439.dib

I bought the half gallons mainly for pickles since we can easily go through a quart every few days. I really make sure the brine is next to boiling when it goes in the jars and I process them for 15 minutes at full boil. I really like them for dry storage too, they are a cheap air tight container and hold quite a bit.

As for safety of canning in half gallon jars, I can't say it any better than Jackie. No other person living compares to her first hand experience.
http://www.backwoodshome.com/advice/aj61.html

"When I began canning a “few” years back, information was included in all the canning “how-to’s” for using half gallon jars. So I just followed the directions, which required a longer period of processing time. This was given as 20% longer processing over the time required for quarts for meats and vegetables, which are of course canned in a pressure canner. Fruits, which are canned in a pressure canner using a half gallon jar, need an extra five minutes, and when canned in a water bath canner they require an extra ten minutes processing time.

Now, I don’t recommend anyone use half gallon canning jars, but I do use them, and have for years. I do use common sense, and when using them for meat and vegetables, and mixes such as chili and soups, I am absolutely sure that the item is boiling hot when it goes into the (hot) jars and is processed immediately. I’m sure if one were to put cold or merely warm chili into half gallon jars and exhaust the canner half-heartedly (so that steam was not shouting out the ports, only spitting out from time to time), they could run into trouble with improperly processed food that could spoil or cause health problems.

But as I’ve often said, I’ve canned for over 30 years, thousands of jars every year, and never poisoned any diner at my table! One of the bonuses of canning is the convenience of “instant” meals. And half gallon jars allow quick canning of large meals-in-a-jar. Just check each lid and the appearance of the product before opening to make sure the lid is sealed (indented in the center) and the food looks normal. Then sniff for any off odors. If it’s fine, simmer for 15 minutes just to be sure. And enjoy.

But out of legality, remember I didn’t advise or recommend that anyone use half gallon jars for home canning. Everyone is trying their best to keep us safe from ourselves, including home economists and canning companies, and a lot of folks are sue-happy, as well."


Whats a good price for them new?
Cheap jars (Golden Harvest) by the dozen are around $6.50 for pints and $8 for quarts. Ball jars are around $10 for widemouth quarts and down from there. That's really neat to find an ad like that, usually canning jars are sold if they are marked down at all. I wonder what their regular price is? You almost have to buy half pints new because they are few and far between in thrift shops and yard sales, same with half gallons. I also like to consider the cost of lids when I buy used jars since new ones always come with a lid and ring.
 

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When you wrap the jars, make a rig of 2 pieces of cardboard from packaging so that it keeps the jars from touching each other within the wrap and you'll have a lot less loss.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
When you wrap the jars, make a rig of 2 pieces of cardboard from packaging so that it keeps the jars from touching each other within the wrap and you'll have a lot less loss.
I really don't have any break or chip, but I cringe every time I stack them. The real problem is the rims getting chipped so even one piece of cardboard on top would help a bunch. I think I'll try that next time I wrap a case, thanks for the tip :thumb:
 

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That's a great idea! I've bought a bunch of canning jars cheap at auction. I let them sit in the cases until I started to use them then washed them. That just added to the canning chores. I wish I had thought ahead like you and washed them ahead of time.

As for sources, I see jars in second hand stores for 50 cents to a buck a case sometimes. I've also seen huge amounts for sale dirt cheap in craigslist. I assume someone cleaned out grandma's house or something. Auctions have been my best finds though, but that takes keeping an eye out for them and going to see what they have. I used to sell collectibles and antiques though, so I was a regular at the auction anyway.
 

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Bleach blonde on fire :p
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well I use to get them second hand until I actually started wondering what could have been in them....people store chemicals in them, dead things...etc. When I think of the ones I have thrown out because we used them for something that I know no amount of scrubbing could ever get them back into food use condition I wonder how many people have picked them out of the glass recycling bin and not even had a clue as to what was once in them.


Not knocking your idea but please be careful!
 

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Every now and then, I find a stash of jars or have some given to me by family members, friends, etc... Some of my friends that frequent auctions and estate sales know that I like the jars, and if they see some they can bid on and get really cheap, they will pick them up for me...

Like you, the first thing I do with them is give them a thourough cleaning... I usually fill the bottom rack of the dishwasher with them and set it on the highest temperature... Not knowing where they've been I feel that I have to do this the first time I wash them...

And when canning season approaches, I have plenty to do without trying to do it then... Great idea! And what a find you made! Congratulations!! :)

Karl
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I wonder how many people have picked them out of the glass recycling bin and not even had a clue as to what was once in them.
You're right, it's easy to get happy about finding free jars and forget to check them really well. I'm not at all worried about dead organic matter, but chemicals make me wonder sometimes. Of course I check every one of them and am very sure of them before I use any. To get the total amount of jars that I want on hand, it would cost me $2,000 - $3,000 at retail prices. My only option is to get them second hand.

Like you, the first thing I do with them is give them a thourough cleaning... I usually fill the bottom rack of the dishwasher with them and set it on the highest temperature... Not knowing where they've been I feel that I have to do this the first time I wash them...
That would make things much easier, but we don't have a dishwasher. They would get sterilized really well in a dishwasher which is half the battle. I'd say it took me 3 hours to clean all 120 or so jars. I scrub the rim inside and out with a brillo, scrub the inside with a scouring pad on a stick, then scrub the outside of the jar with a brillo and a rag. Then I rinse them twice and put them all on a towel upside down for around 30 minutes to drain off, then turn them right side up to actually dry for 24 hours or so. Once they are clean, a 200 watt light helps to me find anything I might have missed or any cracks.
 
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