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Canning Day Quilt

Mason Jar Tip

Right about now, my family is well on our way to eating and enjoying the yummy cans of food I put up in the Fall.

When we finished eating a jar of peaches (or grape jelly or applesauce or peppers, etc.) I used to immediately throw away the lid.  Then I would wash the jar and the ring and store them separately.  I stored the rings in a plastic bucket with a lid.

The jars would get stored in the box they came in.  That was until I was given a large supply of mason jars without their original boxes.  For those jars I found and assortment of sturdy cardboard boxes to save them in.

I tried to make sure the jars were all stored upside down, but since the kids usually run them downstairs to our storage, many were placed in the box right side up.

That meant I had plenty of surprises in store for me in the form of dead spiders, their webs, and dead prey when canning again the next year.  Spiders webs are sticky and hard to remove and then there’s the yuck factor.  Not fun!

Now days I have a new method.  Whenever I finish a canning jar, I save and wash the jar, ring and the lid.

To prevent mixing up the used lid with a new one, I mark and “X” on the top with a Sharpie.

Then I place the lid on upside down and twist on the ring.

That way no little creepy crawlies find their way into my jars.

As for storing the jars in the cardboard boxes, it’s not really the best solution.  They don’t have handles and despite being sturdy, they are showing the wear and tear.

I’ve been on the lookout for a good storage box.  I haven’t liked the idea of the widely available plastic storage bins with a lid,  because the sides slope out and my jars could rock back and forth.

Last week I spotted Rectangular Dairy Milk Crates and think I may have my storage solution winner.  They are designed to hold 24 quarts of milk, so I think they will hold a nice amount of jars.

I love that they have handles and that they can stack for easy storage.  I’ve even seen similar crates that collapse when not in use.

Does anyone out there have a favorite way to store their Mason jars?

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27 Responses to “Mason Jar Tip”

  • Tisha:

    I like using the filing crates (like the milk ones) but I lay my jars down and stack them. Works pretty good and you can get several jars in them..

  • Jen LC:

    I bet those ornament boxes with the grid of cardboard separators would be helpful. The one we have has a few layers with a sturdy piece of cardboard in between.

    It would keep them from clanking together, if you shimmied the divider up to the widest part of the jar, plus there’s a lid on top to keep the creepy-crawlies out. Ooh, I wonder if you could find one on sale right now?

  • i have shelves in our basement that are just wide enough for jars. I keep the jars there after canning and just put them back when they are empty. I have had the creepy crawlers get in too. so gross, but I have done like you and put old jar lids on top.

    I want to find a good craft with those old jar lids and for rings that are dented or rusty. I was trying to come up with a christmas ornament, but never figured one out that I liked. They would be perfect for a photo ornament.

    • Cody:

      Hi Monica,

      My Mom and I always made ornaments using the old rings and lids.
      She would keep greeting cards all year, and then we would go through and pick out pictures that we wanted, trace the lid, cut it out and glue it on to the lid. We would usually put a cut out of our school picture on the other side of the lid, but the possibilities are endless.
      We would then wrap the ring in colorful yarn, and sometimes create a tassel to hang from the bottom.
      Tie a loop for hanging… pop the lid into the ring, and wha la… timeless Christmas ornament.

      Thanks for asking, was a fun memory to recall. Think I’ll do this one soon!

      Happy canning/crafting!

  • Laura:

    I wash the jars and toss the lids (unless I make memory games for the grandchildren with them). I store the clean jars with a NEW lid upside down (like you do with the old ones) so they are ready to go when I need them. And yes I know all about the “surprises”! When I was cleaning the storage room after we had 4 Inches of water in it, I found that we had had mice!!! as they died in the jars with no lids. Needless to say the whole box of jars went OUT the door so fast. My husband laughed at me as I danced and jumped and carried on! It took me a few days to calm down. And because of the water problem, EVERYTHING that sits on the floor is now in totes.

  • Heidi:

    I’ve been working on cleaning out my grandmother’s basement, and her ridiculous collection of old jars. Every time I think I’m nearing the end I find another hidden box filled with jars! So far I’ve uncovered about 300 (yes, really), all stored open on shelves and in old boxes. Creepy crawlies? Oh yes! I’ve been trying to think of a good way to store them without just putting them back on the shelf to get dusty again. For now cardboard boxes because they will close to keep the dust out, and no old lids to put on. But those milk crates look like a great solution once the basement is clean!

  • Oh, I do like this tip! I do a lot of canning, and have the same challenges. Thank you!

  • I’m with you, I love storing my jars in the boxes that they came in. The stragglers that I had drove me crazy! (And I’ve never been a fan of spiders!) I love the above idea to make a memory game out of the old lids. That could be so cute!

    One suggestion I have would be to contact the county extension office or someplace like Rowley’s Red Barn where they offer canning classes. When I took a course through the Utah State Extension, we always took home jars of the product that we were canning in our hands on labs every week. There were always several empty jar boxes to be tossed. I bet that if you were to call around someone would be willing to set them aside for you.

  • Beth:

    We store empty jars in the basement on the shelves where the filled jars wait. I just turn them upside down. I use the old lids for games with my preschool kids. The other girls I teach with were buying new kids for games… I said No way, and now I supply them all. Its funny that many people like the cardboard boxes they come it. I toss them. I don’t like cardboard.

  • Ashley:

    I love the idea of marking used lids with an “X”. I save the used lids, as I often store things in the fridge that aren’t sealed, just need to be in a closed container.

  • carole:

    I have been storing them in the boxes in the basement but I recently cleaned out my Tupperware cupboard and have been using lots of the jars for leftovers. I love them because I feel like I can store an onion in it for a few days in the frig and when the jar goes through the dishwasher it’s definitely clean! I’m sure I’ll be looking for some extras at yard sales this summer to replace the ones I’m using.

  • Lori:

    I have narrow shelves for canned goods. The empty jars with used lids go back into the empty spots.(I buy new lids in August.) However the extra jars made for giving go in boxes and I’m always reorganizing. Folding milk crates would be nice for extra storage and I love Carole’s idea, using jars for storing leftovers and onions.

  • Ellen:

    I have recently feel in love with Mason jars and have been using them for everything from binder clips to dried navy beans. I bought a dozen of just about every size that I could find. I even found a 1/2 dozen of a 1/2 gallon size. I was tempted to purchase but didn’t. I would like to find a good way to store them too. At this point, I am leaving them in the case they came in. Keep posting the good ideas.

  • I like to store my jars with the lids on, too. Did you know that you can usually get two uses out of one lid? I do and it hasn’t failed yet. I always double check the seal before I put my canned goods on the shelf to make sure they stayed sealed.

  • mom keeps them upside down on shelves in the storage room.

  • Angela:

    I don’t have a good way of storing them, but I did hear of a good suggestion for storing empty jars. Fill the jars with water and then put the lid on; this way you have clean jars and you have an emergency supply of water as well. I’ve also been using Tattler reusable lids and have liked them as well.

  • Cathryn:

    Try going to a liquor store and get the boxes that larger liquor bottles come in. They are made especially to keep glass bottles from breaking, with special inserts to separate all the bottles. I use these boxes to store glassware and even Christmas ornaments….anything breakable that will fit in the slots!

  • Wendy:

    Thanks for all the great tips. I especially like the idea of placing the used lid on top. I do store my jars in totes with lids but I lay them down. I feel I can stack more jars per tote this way. They do jiggle a little but once on the shelf they are fine. Canning peaches today! Found your website when looking for new peach canning ideas. Love your site! I have a friend like your friend Kate! Jona is coming to can peaches with me today… So excited!

  • susan:

    I also dislike cardboard (attract roaches) so I started getting the plastic file boxes. They are a little more sturdy than the totes and are designed to hold a ton of weight. I find the smaller ones work better than the really big ones. I simply cannot lift the big ones. They are tall enough to hold the 1/2 gallon jars or two pint jars stacked. I wrap the bottles in either facecloths or place a smallish plastic pill bottle inbetween the jars to keep em from clanking. I have even “recycled” the packaging from boxes- bubble wrap or the air filled bladders packaging (my personal fav is the bubble wrap) I usually wrap with a bungee cord or some string to keep the lid from getting displaced, place a label on the outside with the contents and date packed, then you can stack em 2-3 high if you need to. Also, a great place to store canned goods is under your bed. Get the bed hight extenders and place canned goods under your bed, clean, temp control and if you live in florida (no basements) a great place to maximize storage. The empty’s go back in the same box (I do the upside down lid thing too) and the box list I just put a big x over the list. Hope it helps. PS, my granma used to use milk crates with a tarp over it to keep the dust off it. She had a cellar and always put her goods on the North wall as it had the least temp fluctuation.

  • Nancy:

    When I run out of shelf space and the boxes the jars came in loose their usefulness,I purchase plastic totes and put old tube socks over each jar to keep them from clanging together. The toe is cut off which allows the jar to sit firnly and the length is cut to just below the shoulder of each jar. If I am storing pints I just fold the sock down to the right size. We all have old socks that are mismatched or in need of mending, they can be put to good use and can be washed whenever necessary.

    • Terry:

      I love the old sock idea! I hate cardboard boxes for storage, but I don’t like having the jars just rolling around, bumping into one another. This solve it all! *runs off to find the odd sock bag*

  • Lori:

    I have used the old lids and made magnets with them. Great craft project for kids. Use old greeting cards, wallpaper or anything on cardstock type paper. Use the lid to trace around a desired picture, Cut the picture out and glue to the lid and attach a 1 inch piece of magnetic strip to the back and there ya have a magnet. You can also use craft felt as the 1st layer and then adorn the magnet with any desired photo or object.

  • Lori:

    I use clear storage totes and make cardboard grids to seperate the jars. I use corrugated cardboard for the grids. I also recycle bubble wrap to lay on the bottom. The jars fit nice and snug and the clear totes allow me to see what is in the tote without having to lift and look into each one. I store my qt and pt.s seperately as well as wide and reg mouth seperate. Jelly jars get their own special area as well. All of my canning equip is stored into airtight containers to keep it from cluttering the kitchen when not in use and to keep it all in one place.

  • Linda:

    I store mine either in the canning pantry or in the original boxes upside down with the lids on. When I use the jars to can, I save the lids to string on cord to go around our garden area to clang together to frighten deer and other critters. Sort of like stringing aluminum pie pans. But I have many more lids than pie pans.

  • aj:

    after the jar is empty i wash and sterilize then put plactic wrap over top with a sealer and a ring and store upside down in my cold storage room , that way they stay sterilized till next use, when i need them i give them a quick wash when canning and place jars open side down in oven on low they stay hot till i pull them out to can

  • annak:

    I can’t remember the last time I bought jars. I still use mostly old blue/green jars that have been in the family for years, though I have saved clear ones over the years to add to my hoard. *L* While I don’t have space in my home for canning supplies, I do have an old springhouse/root cellar just outside the back door. It’s nice to have but talk about creepy crawlies.. YUCKO!
    My empties and full ones are all stored in my root cellar on wooden shelves. I store my empties upside down in repurposed plastic “wally world” bags and have always had good results. My mother used this method with paper grocery bags years ago, using tape to close each bag.
    I put the first bag on the kitchen counter, set the clean, dry jars into the bag open side up. Pull the bag snug and tie the bag. Put the knot into one of the jar openings to keep the top flat. (if you store with lids in place, tuck it in the space between the jars) Then place another bag OVER that one, with the bottom of the second bag on top of the now covered open jar ends, hold it carefully and turn the whole thing over. Tie this bag and you have a neat package of about 6-8 qt. or 8-10 pt jars that you can store open end down on a shelf or any level surface. It may not keep out every creepy crawly, but most don’t bother making it into the jars. When tied tightly they form a pretty sturdy ‘cube’, they won’t bang around and there are usually enough jars for one canning session in each package. I never store mine with lids/rings since my cellar is damp. I remove rings on sealed jars before they go down for storage.
    As for storing canning rings, I made a large circle of heavy wire (think old coat hangers) with a simple hook made on each end. Thread the wire through the rings and then hook the ends together to close it. You can hang it anywhere and keep large mouth or regular ones separate.
    I get the feeling I’m one of the older (est) people here. I’m not nearly as organized anymore as most of you seem to be, but it does my heart good to know that canning, quilting, sewing and gardening are still important to those younger than myself. Just as my grandmother taught my mother and my mother taught me, my daughter learned long ago to eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. And I’m happy to say no one in our family has ever ‘done without’ anything that they really needed. Kudos on this site!

    • annak,

      I love you! What a great post! I think your ideas for storing the jars and lids are fabulous!

      I think I want to adopt you as my aunt!

      Have a wonderful, blessed day :)

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