Posted in Homestead

The Great Canning Jar (and all its many uses)

canning jar

Nancy sent me this picture.  How true!  Never have I loved a piece of homestead kitchen equipment more than a canning jar.  They are not just for canning, folks!  And for less than a dollar a piece new, free if you find the right person, dirt cheap at a garage sale, you have a heck of a worker.


Yes, to start, the mighty canning jar is for, well, canning food.  There are over five hundred jars of delicious fruits and vegetables huddled together in my cool basement.  Which means that my grocery bill for vegetables and fruits for the remainder of the winter is about ten bucks a month.  Only because I love fresh cabbage sometimes, or I may run out of garlic.  These jars are truly amazing if you think about it.  They will hold their nutritious contents for me and not let anything happen to them for years if I needed them to.  Now, that’s an investment!


I don’t have a pantry so I turned a circa 1950’s hardware shelf with cubbies into one.  It holds canning jars on their sides, their lids sticking out a bit with their contents labeled with a marker.  This sure beats my last method.  Pile all bulk bags, and boxes into a cupboard and hope I remember what is in there.  I can easily glance at the cubbies, see what is needed or what I have to make for supper.  The jars keep pests out like mill worms and mice….and the greyhound.  I store flour and larger quantities of pantry staples in larger canning jars.

I received my share of goat’s milk in them all summer.  Half a gallon Mason jars are great for storing milk, juice, or iced tea in.  We fill our half gallon jars up with water, honey, mint, and an iced tea bag, and take it with us to farmer’s markets and outings instead of tinny or plastic water bottles.

Pint or quart jars can be used for gift giving.  Fill with hot chocolate mix.  Or soup fixings.  Or on another note, how about sewing scissors, a cloth measuring tape, straight pins, a pattern, and some cute fabric for a beginning sewing kit.  Or paints and brushes.  Or dog treats.  How about bird seed?


We use them to water plants, store leftovers instead of Tupperware, to hold our herbal medicines while they brew, our lotions are packaged in four ounce canning jars, and used to hold rubber bands, and odds and ends.  (The four ouncers are darling.)

So, next time you see canning jars, better grab them.  They are a great help to farmgirls everywhere.


Katie Lynn Sanders is the author of seven books, has been a speaker on sustainable living, and loves all things wine, regenerative agriculture, homesteading, travel, food, arts, crafts, books, and finding enchantment and inspiration in the smallest things. She lives on a one acre farm and vineyard, Pumpkin Hollow Farm, with her husband, fourteen chickens, three ducks, a giant Pyrenees, two goats, five cats, and visiting children and grandchildren in southern Colorado.

14 thoughts on “The Great Canning Jar (and all its many uses)

  1. I love canning jars. I still have all my grandmother’s aquamarine colored glass canning jars with the original zinc lids. I use them to store spices and dry goods like beans and seeds. I’m also beginning to collect antique British ones, called Kilner jars.

  2. My 6-yr-old says you have to drink from a canning jar if you want to be a homesteader 🙂 And a quart jar holds a lot of liquid which is especially nice on a hot day. Not to mention, you can put the lid on to keep the bugs out.

  3. I love how you use the old hardware shelves. (If I’m calculating the ratio correctly, it looks like there’s a bottle of wine per each two jars of food. Sounds about right. 🙂 )

  4. Agreed. They are good to have on hand. I make all of my dressings, for salads, in a jar. I love using something that my gramma used, over 50 years ago. Most of my jars are hers!

  5. Hi…You mentioned hot chocolate mix. I wondered if you make your own mix? If you do would you mind sharing your recipe? I was thinking of making a bunch for our Christmas gathering. Thank you!

    1. 1 part cocoa powder to 3 parts organic sugar. I like to add a bit of cinnamon and a pinch of chipotle to the mix! Use 1 Tablespoon per 1 cup of hot milk or water. Best to heat on stove. This can easily be adjusted according to taste. A bit of Irish Cream doesn’t hurt it!

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