Jar size is one of the most important aspects of home canning. Choosing the correct jar size will ensure that the canning process goes smoothly and produces safe results. This article will provide tips for home canners on choosing jar sizes.
The best advice that any home canner can follow is to take a USDA approved recipe and follow it exactly as it is written. All USDA approved recipes will specify which size jar to use for each recipe. According to Presto, a company that creates pressure canners, using standard jar sizes is important because research has been done using those standard sizes. “Standard sizes” include half-pint, pint, and quart jars. Very few recipes, if any, call for jars smaller or larger (such as gallon jars).
In general, jams and jellies will usually go into half-pint and pint jars because they are easy to store, produced in smaller quantities, and are great for gift-giving. They are easy to store because they can go into a refrigerator when they have been opened and they do not take up too much space.
On the other hand, if you use a quart jar for jam or jelly, you will have to eat a lot of jam or jelly to empty the jar. Quart jars are better for pickled vegetables or any meats or low-acid vegetables because they hold so much more. They are also taller and wider, so longer vegetables would fit in these jars, and they can hold “family-size” portions. You won’t have to open up three pint jars of tomato sauce if you can open just a quart jar instead. Additionally, since quart jars can hold more, you will have fewer jars. This works nicely if your pantry has limited space.
Jars also come in wide-mouth or regular mouth varieties. Some people enjoy wide-mouth jars more than the standard mouth jars because the former can be easier to clean. However, wide-mouth jars are more expensive.
Some recipes provide several options for jar sizes, but do not change the jar size unless the recipe allows you to do so. Remember, the jar size is specifically written so that the recipe produces safe results.