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January 29, 2015

My collection of jars that is.  Jarring, or staggering actually.  But they are my most used farmstead kitchen tool.  Some of these jars get used every day, or at least some sizes and types get used every day.

Rather than bore you with details of my former 4-H and Home Economics preserving competition tales, I thought I would just list how I use these jars.  And yes, many are wide mouth so I can easily clean them.  So as you can see I don’t totally eschew wide mouth canning jars, only four of the twelve jars pictured are actually narrow mouth canning jars.  But I rarely actually can anything in wide mouth jars…but I do use them a lot for other things.

My jars are the equivalent of my husband’s tools.  They are a very important function of the kitchen, and they are respected by all.  You don’t come in and grab a jar from the bin table without asking.  Sounds bad I know, but that’s the way it works especially when you have gallons of milk a day coming through the kitchen.

This is just my system for jar use, the different sizes and shapes make it easier for me to see what I have on hand at any given time.

1)  Wide mouth gallon – almost all my milk goes in these, the wide mouth works well for skimming the cream.  We also use these for dried fruits, beans, herbs etc.  Mine are all recycled pickle jars, but you can buy them new here.  I use these daily.

2)  Wide mouth half-gallon canning jar – our whole milk for drinking goes in these, plus I use these tempered jars to reheat milk for the calves.  We also use these for sauerkraut, dried foods, buttermilk herbs, etc.

3)  Wide mouth squatty half-gallon – these are exclusively used for skimmed cream for churning, I only have a few. Butter batches are determined by cream amount.  Churns work with the churn jar half full.  A gallon churn uses 1/2 gallon of cream, a two gallon churn uses one gallon of cream and so on and so forth.  At a glance I can see how much cream I have, no need to paw around in the fridge squinting at all the jars with white stuff.  Cream is in dedicated cream jars.  Cream for coffee and kahlua is in smaller jars, and I won’t disclose where I hide the medicinal ganache.  As you can see cream is the driving force for having a milk cow 😉

4) Wide mouth quart canning jar – occasionally I will can fruit in these, but mostly I use these for broth or sandwich slice pickles.  I also use these for lard.  Anything greasy or fatty usually goes in a wide mouth jar for easier cleanup.

5)  Narrow mouth quart – I use these for canning most things.  Applesauce, tomato soup, tomato sauce, whole tomatoes, fruit juices, sliced fruit, berries, pickles, etc.

6)  Wide mouth squatty pint canning jar – my favorite jar for freezing butter.

7)  Wide mouth tapered pint canning jar – I use these mostly for ghee storage, but they are great for freezing too with the tapered shape.

8)  Narrow mouth pint canning jar – I can a lot in these, tomato sauce, salsa, green beans, dry beans, carrots, corn, and jam.  Sometimes the pint size is just right when you don’t want a quart.

9)  Wide mouth tapered pint and one half canning jar – an odd size, and these just get used for odd things.  That extra dab of milk that is too small for a quart and too much for a pint, dukkah, roasted nuts etc.

10)  Narrow mouth half pint jelly/jam jar – I use these mostly for freezing mushrooms, pesto, corn, and as lunch containers for my husbands lunch.

11)  Wide mouth tapered half pint – I use these for freezing also.  Mushrooms, pesto, romesco, chopped garlic scapes, etc.  I save the boxes the jars came and use them to stack them by the dozen in the freezer.  The shallow box for containment coupled with the short size of the jars really makes good use of limited freezer space.

12)  Narrow mouth four ounce jelly jar – these are perfect for freezing small amounts of anything, and I use them a lot for salves and ointments for the barn.

Jars of all shapes and sizes make my job easier.  I love my jars!

34 Comments leave one →
  1. sblisster permalink
    January 29, 2015 2:06 pm

    I love these and am envious of your collection. How and where do you store them? I don’t have nearly as many, and I feel like they’re everywhere.

    • January 29, 2015 2:16 pm

      Ugh, storage is a conundrum, most of them are stored in the basement on shelves, or extras in boxes. And some (because I never pass up a good deal on jars) are stored in the barn. And to keep the milk “flowing” through the household, an entire table in the kitchen is used solely for jars. When the cow is dry, I put all those jars away, they take up the most space, and that gives us a break from having jars everywhere!

      • sblisster permalink
        January 29, 2015 9:02 pm

        Thanks! I guess I’m glad I’m not alone, but it is too bad you don’t have a brilliant solution to steal.

  2. January 29, 2015 3:07 pm

    After being here in Oregon for about 15 months I have finally identified where I can fill a niche….many of the small farms I have gotten to know have no time to preserve excess. So much of their produce, then, goes solely to feed and compost. They love the idea of another income stream. Putting it all together not before the harvesting starts!

    • January 29, 2015 3:24 pm

      Exactly, so many time I have said I need a wife! Not really a wife but someone who can work in the kitchen while I work outside, some harvests are so timely and exhausting there is little time to preserve the bounty. Good for you!

  3. Lisa G. permalink
    January 29, 2015 3:33 pm

    Thank you for this – I had no idea these jars came in such large sizes!

  4. January 29, 2015 4:18 pm

    An impressive collection.
    As a ‘preserver’ I never turn down an empty jar.

  5. January 29, 2015 7:48 pm

    Yes! I have all of these, plus a few more. I store them in my pantry, one whole wall is for jar storage and is divided into sections for different types… I can tell what time of year it is by which shelves have empty jars and which are full.

  6. Tara permalink
    January 29, 2015 8:00 pm

    Love it! I showed my husband this post to prove I wasn’t the only one with some serious jar dedication. Thank you!

  7. January 29, 2015 8:13 pm

    Jars, jars, jars 😊 I think I have hundreds. They’re like gold on a farm…..I never turn down an offer of free jars, and if I give anybody a jar of jam etc – I write ‘send me home’ on the lid. Most I get back – if not, that person doesn’t get another jar of anything.
    Off the subject, but do you do extended lactation with Jane?
    Another subject – WordPress keeps randomly ‘unfollowing’ some of my favorite blogs… if you see me ‘re-following’ you – that’s what’s going on.

    • January 29, 2015 9:07 pm

      I know for sure I have a 100 dozen quarts we stashed for Y2K LOL. We all know how that turned out! And then I’m bad, jars are like fabric, you know that piece you just can’t bear to cut – I have jars I can’t bear to use. Silly. It’ll be some estate sale when I die for sure!

      I don’t usually do an extended lactation with her, but this will be also the first year that she’s going to be calving late, late, late. She’s missed one heat, so IF she’s bred she’s due on October 1st. If she comes in for any reason, I’ll bite the bullet and wait until summer to breed her again. So roundabout answer, I may milk her longer this year.

      I was going to ask you about the following, every couple of days I get a notice…

      • January 29, 2015 9:27 pm

        Yeah there’s no rhyme or reason to it – which blogs it ‘unfollows’ or how often. Another blogger mentioned to me that WordPress was arbitrarily changing the dates on his posts and sometimes posting things twice. The double posts have been showing up on my feed with a half dozen other bloggers.
        Wordpress glitch I guess – be nice if they’d straighten it out.
        That’s funny about the jars you don’t want to use – I have my grandmothers old glass lid bail wire jars – some of them have turned a pale blue. The hubby has been warned – those are just for ‘looking at’ 🙂

        • January 29, 2015 9:35 pm

          So far so good here, I’ve only seen you following me a couple a times a week 😉 I guess we can’t complain since it’s free.

          I know exactly what you mean, I have a purple collection sitting right by the computer in the sun getting darker each year. Love them. And the Hazel Atlas with the clovers? Oh my.

  8. efrompdx permalink
    January 29, 2015 9:06 pm

    As a dedicated preserver, I can agree about the constant ebb and flow of jars. It’s organized chaos. Such perfect tools for food storage, though! Love your big ones! I don’t have a need for them, but I covet them!!! 🙂

  9. Lisa permalink
    January 29, 2015 10:32 pm

    Are your number 7 and 9 swapped??

    I love my jars. The half gallon is great for smaller batch fermentations.
    Narrow mouth quarts are great for quick-cooling stocks, the fat rises to the top, easy to de-fat, then freeze stock flat in zip-locks. Bone broth. Who knew? what was old is new again.
    The four oz are great for huckleberry or quince jam. Too precious to can in anything larger.

    I have both of my grandmothers old jars, and feel a connection to them, and the great aunts when I use the old jars.

    • January 29, 2015 11:11 pm

      Yes, thank you – good save, I fixed it! Some of these jars came from mentors who no longer had a use for them and they wanted to pass them on. A very strong connection indeed 🙂

  10. January 30, 2015 3:23 am

    I also have many of these (not gallon Ball), and some not shown too, and use them nearly exactly the same way, except no cow here. 100 doz – WOW! And that was just quarts. I’m nowhere near that.

    But I did have someone give me many many dozens of the old bale jars. I got the rubbers for them and vacuum sealed them with oxygen packs. Just in case, some day…. The jars are clean and stored in the attic.

    My other jars are mostly in the root cellar, but I hope, not for long. We’re planning a major cellar overhaul and I’m hoping for space outside the root cellar for jar storage.

    I have a shelf in the pantry where I put the empties until it gets full. Then I sort it out, put away extras, and start again.

    • January 30, 2015 5:17 am

      Pam, the gallons and short half gallons aren’t canning jars, they are used pickle or jerky jars. Me and jars go way back…that 100 dozen is just useable ones, I didn’t bother listing or showing that antique or unique ones I don’t use. An interesting tidbit about the old jars from here, of three dozen or so blue half dozen, Atlas or Ball half gallons – I have only one wide mouth blue half gallon. People just didn’t spend the extra money. My faves are the canning jars with labels from the product that originally came in them, coffee etc. Like flower sack cotton, “buy my coffee and get a useable canning jar.” And the old coffee jars with a #63 lid, now that is a narrow mouth.

      I have a cookbook from the 80’s that I bought just because of a photo of a Amish outside jar rack. I wanted one of those so bad, until I realized how dirty those jars would be by the next canning season. Cool picture though. But hubby talked me out of that one.

  11. Carrie permalink
    January 30, 2015 4:21 am

    Thank heavens I’m not alone in my jar fetish! 🙂 My kitchen is littered with empty ones at present that are awaiting inspection and then storage for next use. By accident, I hit upon the flat bottomed jute bag [see as a handy means of temporary storage and transport. (Temporary as in… well, yes, OK, semi-permanent.) Granted, the bags are not as sturdy as a cardboard box, but as I have bags in different sizes to hand they may as well be used for something!

    • January 30, 2015 5:22 am

      Carrie, we need to start a group. My name is Nita and I have toooooo many jars :p Goodness knows I need a safe transport from basement to kitchen and back again. We were watching a cooking show last weekend and heard a crash, not sure if it was from the basement or dogs chasing cats on the porch. Well, I discovered later that it was an upended milk crate of empty jars, upside down on the concrete basement floor. I had set them precariously on a box, and didn’t put them on the shelf, what a mess.

      Those bags look like the ticket!

      • Carrie permalink
        January 31, 2015 6:17 am

        Nita if we start a group for those addicted to jar collecting we’ll need to design a 12-step programme! I made a start… this morning I ditched half-a-dozen old rusty ‘non-reusable’ lids, couldn’t bring myself to throw the jars though… Sad 🙂

  12. Bee permalink
    January 30, 2015 6:32 am

    Yep, I’m another member of Jaraholics Anonymous! Let me know when you schedule the first meeting.
    I also collect jars that can’t be used for pressure canning because they have single use lids. it’s rare to find food in glass jars these days, but they are still out there. These jars are great for putting yogurt in, for leftovers, freezing broths and making the ferments I don’t can: pickles, relishes, pickled beets and other pickled vegetables. They’re also good for herbs I use in larger quantities, such as basil. Then there are the small jars for tinctures or the slightly larger ones for cough syrup.
    I wish I could find a source for new gallon-size pickle jars; the one thing I have against the gallon jars (all the ones I’ve been able to find are from recycled glass) is that they’re a little thinner and more fragile than the pickle jars. I have to be really careful not to bump them together when they’re full of milk — you want to talk mess in the refrigerator!

    • January 30, 2015 6:54 am

      I got all my gallon pickle jars from the hospital where I worked. It was helpful to have a friend in the cafeteria who was versed in food storage, she saved all the containers that were just going to thrown away. I hate it when I break one though, the news ones just aren’t as good.

      • January 31, 2015 3:08 am

        My husband worked at a hospital for many years and that’s where most of my gallons came from. Every now and then I find old ones at tag sales. That’s where I found the 2 1/2 gallon ones I have (not Ball jars), but squatty ones.

    • January 30, 2015 10:05 am

      One thing I like about living in Latvia is that stuff still comes in jars and they sell the lids to replace them with too. I am developing the jar fetish, just didn’t realise how bad it could get. At least now I am warned

      • January 30, 2015 10:17 am

        Uh oh, I see signs of a jar disorder coming on…it starts out slow and then you feel the fever 😉 No cure as far as I know. And it’s quite infectious, I believe it’s carried on jars that are handed down.

        • January 30, 2015 11:04 am

          I guess I had better make sure that storage options are started now then 😀

  13. January 31, 2015 4:10 am

    I completely understand, it takes years to collect the jars you need. I am still in the collecting stage..

  14. February 1, 2015 5:53 am

    I have really enjoyed reading your blog!! We got our first dairy cow in August and I have definitely seen an increase in my jar collection and usage. I am quickly sliding down the rabbit hole of canning jars. Hope to have a lot to can this summer so will I will probably need more though:)

  15. Tammy B. permalink
    February 9, 2015 3:35 pm

    I use my wide-mouth half-pints for single serve (homemade) Greek yogurt or pudding. I use the quarter-pints for small serving tapioca pudding or yogurt for my Grandkidlets and small amounts of low-sugar jam to mail to my Dad. I use gallons for storage. (flour, rice, sugar) I use half gallons for letting juice or broth ‘settle’ in the fridge in addition to storage. Half-pints are for jams, jellies, single-serving of pudding, yogurt and herbs/spices. I love my jars and rarely resist them at charity shops. : – )

  16. oukay permalink
    February 13, 2015 10:07 am

    First time on the blog and this post is perfect! The family is slowly catching onto the idea of using the jars for leftovers and such. I do remember taking soup in a jar to work for lunch. One of my co-workers looked at it and said “You know, that is why they make tupperware containers.” Sigh…….
    I also have a stash of older interesting jars that are used for dry goods storage since I do not think they would stand up to hard use.

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