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I am a new member of the food preservation group, hoping that i might be able to learn about doing some pickling, preserves, jams, dehydrating, etc.  does anyone here know where i am able to get those old mason jars.  my mom used to have a number of them, and i know that is a type of jar i can use for many of these food ideas.  any tips would be great since i am literally an idiot about this stuff.  thanks.

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Hi Nicholas,

I scored a bunch of mason jars at my local thrift shops (20¢ - 40¢ each!).  Of course, you can buy them new just about anywhere, but I find the best deals for new jars at hardware stores.  Poke around, you'll find them.  May also want to check out estate and garage sales.

Good luck!

Welcome Nicholas - I'm sure you will be able to pick them up at thrift shops and garage sales for not too much.  Good luck!

Welcome! There's some great resources out there when it comes to food preservation. You want to stick to websites that have USDA tested recipes (that assures you that the right method and correct pH). I use this site a lot: http://nchfp.uga.edu/  It's the National Center for Home Food Preservation. There's also the Ball Blue Book which is available in a small booklet in most stores that have canning supplies or there is a book edition called Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (most big bookstores carry it). Read up! It's really easy, but you've got to have the right stuff to do it right!

I usually pick up my jars at Fred's but they are available at a variety of places: supermarkets, Walmart, Big Lots and most hardware stores. I will pick some up at the local thrift store but you have to make sure that they have no nicks or cracks and are proper canning jars (sometimes they have mayo/commercial jars out there that you shouldn't use for home canning). When I come across any really old jars, I use them to store my dehydrated goods. Why take the chance of breaking something that pretty in the canner? Just make sure to use new lids each time, but you can reuse your rings. 

Thrift shops are great.  If you want to buy them new check out your local grocery store.  I live in a pretty big city and they carry a great selection of jars (even though they are hard to locate).  I found them on the very top self in the pasta/sauce/canned veggie isle.

Welcome to the Canning Club Nick! I have been canning for the last 5 years (Im only 30), and I have found it to be a very rewarding experience.

The first thing you will want to do is buy Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving or the book I started out with and still use extensively, Ball Blue Book of Preserving. Read through the "Getting Started" section at the beginning of the book. It will explain everything you need to get started. The main equipment you will need includes: a large waterbath canner, a wide-mouth funnel, a plastic stick for removing air bubbles, and glass jars and lids. Here is link for a nice beginner set. If you don't want to buy online, I've found that my local Ace Hardware carries these sets at the beginning of gardening season. You can find mason jars at typically any grocery store or hardware store, they may just be in a random place or up on top of the aisles. Its best to ask a salesperson, it will save you a lot of time . You can also buy mason jars at Goodwill if you want to find ones like your mom used, but you need to be sure they aren't cracked or have any nicks in the glass. You will still have to buy lids from the grocery store, as you never want to reuse a lid (it wont seal properly the second time around). A lid is the metal cap that sits on top of the jar and creates the seal. You can reuse the metal rings that hold the lid in place. If you want to find old-school mason jars (like the blue-tinted ones), look at antique stores. But I would not recommend using those for canning. Just use them for decoration.


My friend and I write a blog about gardening,preserving, and being parents and working moms. We started it last summer and have some posts about the things we preserved. Its at www.ourheirloomlife.blogspot.com if you care to check it out. Please feel free to ask questions along the way. I must tell you, my first attempt at canning was a recipe for blueberry jam. And I failed miserably. My concoction never gelled enough to be called a jam! So, please go in knowing you may have some "learning experiences" along with your successes.

Good luck!



In addition to the places above, I have found jars at garage sales and estate sales, too. Just be sure to check for cracks and chips when buying second hand. There are now reusable lids called Tattler if you don't want to buy new lids each time you can. Also, before I had a canning pot, I used my largest soup pot and put a towel in the bottom for the jars to sit on while they processed. Since Natalie posted her blog site, I will also post mine: www.plateaugardening.com. Gardening and preserving the harvest are the main topics.  I also enjoy www.foodinjars.com and www.sbcanning.com.


Keep us posted on your adventures!


Yay! Mason jars are the best for so many things. Sounds like everyone already gave you some great tips, get ready to have some foodmaking fun!

SCORE!  I found a box of old mason jars at my boss' house yesterday and asked if I could snag a few.  Got four that seem to be a quart and two that look like a pint.  Pretty happy.  Also bought some cucumber seeds which will be my guinea pig for the pickling process.  WISH ME LUCK!!!

That's great!  Check your cukes to be sure they are the right variety for pickles.

Keep us posted!


do you know what the correct variety is...i was wondering that when i bought the seeds, and i didn't know how to find out spur of the moment so i bought the ones with the picture that looked like pickling cucumbers...probably got the wrong ones, but if you know the variety i need, i would love to know

The correct varieties typically say "pickling" in their name, like "pickling cucumbers". Here is a link to Burpees cucumbers, so you can see the different varieties http://www.burpee.com/vegetables/cucumbers/.   The "picklebush" and the "pickler hybrid" would be good ones to use. You are looking for smaller cucs than what you buy in the supermarket, and they should have bumps on their skin. 

the ones that i bought definitely looked smaller, and the reason i bought the ones i did was because the picture showed them with bumps on their skin...thanks for the link, and i'll look up the variety i bought to see if it's the right one.  told you, i'm a newbie :)




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