Cheaper preserving jar alternative to Mason jars

Discussion in 'Food - Cooking, Preserving & Fermentation' started by Mark, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I love preserving food and one way is to make bottled preserves like jams, pickles, chutneys, etc.

    However, finding, collecting, or buying enough jars for my preserving fetish can sometimes be challenging and also expensive. It can be especially costly if Mason jars are used. Mason jars have a unique two piece lid which helps when sealing the jars during the bottling process and many people swear by using Mason jars for their preserves.

    After becoming fed up paying for what I felt was an overrated glass jar, I decided to trial cheaper jars with one piece lids purchased from my local dollar shop and I can happily report the cheaper jars work just as good as the expensive Mason jars.

    Mason jars at $2.83 each (Spotlight)

    mason jar set expensive preserving option.jpg

    No name "Frutta del prato" jars at $1.08 each

    cheap alternative preserving jars.jpg
    I purchased my cheaper Frutta del prato jars from my local dollar shop called Sams Warehouse.

    I also wrote a blog post about these two types of jars titled Good Cheap Preserving Jars Alternative & The Mason Jar Con Job

    Happy to discuss preserving jars here if anyone knows of any other good preserving jar options or ideas.
     
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  2. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    This is good to know Mark.
    The wife has been talking about preserving for a while and I've been dreading the outlay to get set up.
    This looks like it might not hurt the wallet as much.

    Thanks mate.
     
  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    You can also collect the jars you use (like jam, or pickles) and then buy the same sized metal twist lock lids new online but then it's difficult to match lids to jars and to get uniform sizes and by the time you collect the jars and purchase the lids it costs more than the above anyway.

    Sometimes you can re-use a jar of pickles or jam jar and it's lid if they are in good condition - I often do this for home stuff that I'm not giving away but usually after a second use the lids won't seal properly anymore.

    In the end, these cheap jars really work well and are pretty cost effective I reckon.
     
  4. Linda Langevoort

    Linda Langevoort Active Member Premium Member

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    It's also a help if you ask people you give gifted jars to.......to please return the empty jar for re-use. Most people I ask to do that, don't mind at all.
     
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  5. Julz

    Julz Member Premium Member

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    Thanks for the info Mark, I just bought myself a pack of these jars hoping to make strawberry jam for christmas gifts.

    Just wondering what your method for preserving using these jars is? Thanks!
     
  6. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Hi Julz and welcome to SSC!

    These jars are as good as any of the expensive brands and I treat them exactly the same way (yes I sometimes buy the Mason, Ball, Weck, and Fido jars :blush:). Anyway, firstly I sterilise the jars either in the oven at about 120 C or boil them in a big pot for about 15 minutes. Regardless, I boil the lids because I'm worried the dry heat of the oven might bugger the seals.

    Then, depending on the preserve I'll hot pack the jars and screw the lids on immediately leaving to cool overnight and the lids should pop down under the suction. I mainly use these smaller jars for jams, marmalade, chutneys, etc. If any lids didn't seal or pop down I either use them straight away and put them in the fridge or heat them up in a water bath, give the lids another twist and see if they seal on the second attempt as they cool (often they do).

    One thing I didn't mention in my blog or here is the screw lids can be a little hard to get off if they are over tightened so I try to tighten the lids tight but not ridiculous if that makes any sense... Otherwise a good leaver jar opener like those handle things that grip the lid work really well.

    Let me know if you have any other Qs.
     
  7. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yes, they make great Xmas gifts and every year I give one to our postman (postlady). You can buy new lids for these jars I've seen them at Spotlight but sometimes it's cheaper to buy the whole jar depending on where you get them. Also, if the lids are in ok condition they are perfectly fine to use again and I often get a good seal out of a second use!
     
  8. Julz

    Julz Member Premium Member

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    Great thank you! So you don't put the filled jars back into hot water for 10 minutes of gentle boiling? I seem to read that a lot with mason type jar recipes.
     
  9. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    No I don't Julz.

    However, you could save a step by not pre-sterilising the jars but just ensure they are clean and washed then fill the jars and sterilise the lot in a water bath. Although, this method can lead to over cooking of the product...

    I think the method of double sterilisation is a canning "thing" when meats and certain vegetables are bottled (canned) without much of a preserving agent added (natural or artificial) because these products are susceptible to botulism and also there's not much salt, acids (vinegar), or sugars used in the recipe for preserving. Whereas, jams, chutneys, pickles, etc are much safer to preserve and have less risk of developing bad bacteria. Personally, for these preserves I think further boiling the full jars is a massive overkill and I've only done it to reheat a jar if the lid hasn't sealed.

    Slightly offtopic, when I make my lacto fermented cucumbers, vegetables, or sauerkraut I don't even bother sterilising the jars at all before I pack them. I just wash them out in dishwashing soap, hot water, and rinse, that's it! I guess it depends really on what you are making but if it's strawberry jam then I would make the jam, sterilise the bottles, and pour the jam in, lids on, let cool, done :) My mother in-law said she once had a jar of strawberry jam which was 5 years old and when she opened it the jam was as good as the day she made it! I've never had preserves last that long in the pantry... LOL
     
  10. Julz

    Julz Member Premium Member

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    Great info thank you! I like your method much better, less mucking around. Think I'm about ready to give it a go!
     
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  11. Boris

    Boris Member Premium Member

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    Preserving is really becoming a mainstream hobby/lifestyle. Even big w Harris scarf and mitre 10 sell jars and lids. I use the expensive mason jars for pressure canning and just buy lids for old jars for about 50c each if their original lid is not good enough. My favourite pickled item is aldi cucumbers and they are cheap and the jar is a great size for re use.
     
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  12. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yeah Boris, the Mason and Ball jars are great quality there's no doubt about it and I like reusing other jam or picking jars too.

    One of the best jars I have found is the large Italian anchovy jars by Siena. They have a wired lid with a removable reusable rubber seal and are perfect for preserving (as long as you like eating anchovies).
     
  13. Tim C

    Tim C Two heads are better than one Premium Member GOLD

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    Reject shop etc. have the same jars and swing-top bottles as they sell in the dear shops, like spotlight. They all come out the same factories. With modern glass and lid manufacturing processes flaws are almost non-existent. For lacto pickles I use coffee jars with plastic lids, since the salt eats steel lids quickly. All my 2nd hand jars are washed with boiling water, and cooked preserves are packed into jars while still super-hot.
     
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  14. Boris

    Boris Member Premium Member

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    I tried half a dozen cheap jars for some mango chutney the boss made. The lid contacted the glass lip almost exactly at the point of tightening the seal. So I got a very unreliable seal and only one pop lid stayed down. So we decided to use that one as a gift and it leaked. The lid popped down without a vacuum. I think I will stick to known brands for anything requiring proper seals and use cheaper jars for jam and such.
     
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  15. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    You might be right there Boris, I'm not having an issue with sealing or the lids not popping down correctly but I am finding the cheap jars really hard to open for some reason. They probably are better suited to jams/jellies and things that don't go off too easily - I agree!

    Those Weck jars with the rubber seals are starting to become a favourite of mine because they create a good seal but are easy to open and good quality although just like Ball and Mason they are pricey!

    Come to think of it, I might have to amend my original article on our blog to balance it out a bit... :think:
     
  16. Director

    Director Valued Member Premium Member

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  17. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I saw that special also!

    It's a pretty good deal and I'd get some if I didn't invest in about 10 Weck jars not so long ago.
     
  18. letsgo

    letsgo Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Big W now sell Mason Jars. House also sells jars, Ebay, seems you can get them everywhere these days.
     
  19. Tim C

    Tim C Two heads are better than one Premium Member GOLD

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    If you have heaps of twist-top jars, but the lids are rusty/worn out, you can buy new lids (fleabay,etc.). I think there are 3 main sizes- the big jars, standard(jam-type), and smaller jars/tomato paste jars(in cm.).
     
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  20. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yeah I second that! They say to only use the lids once because the jars won't seal but I've reused those twist top lids several times successfully.
     
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