How to Use Regular Mason Jars & Lids for Freezing


People typically freeze food in plastic containers or plastic bags, but you are not limited to those options. Before convenience products were invented, homemakers froze food in glass containers. Mason jars are ideal for the freezer because they are food-safe, inexpensive and readily available. They are also less wasteful and free of the chemicals found in many plastics. However, you must carefully follow the instructions for freezing in these jars. Otherwise, you risk a freezer full of glass shards.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic or rubber spatula
  • Dish towel
  • Choose a widemouthed dual-purpose Mason jar designed for freezing and canning. These jars can withstand both freezing and boiling temperatures. According to the National Center for Home Preservation, narrow-mouthed canning jars may also be used, but you must leave extra headspace when filling them.

  • Wash the jar in hot, soapy water and thoroughly rinse it clean. Dry the jar.

  • Fill the jar with food, leaving the appropriate amount of headspace between the food and the jar's rim. For widemouthed pint jars, leave ½ inch of space for liquid pack fruits or vegetables (those that are packed in juice, sugar, syrup or water or crushed or pureéd fruit), dry pack fruits or vegetables (those that do not contain added liquid or sugar) or liquids like juice and soup. For widemouthed quart jars, leave 1 inch of headspace for liquid pack fruits and vegetables or liquids. If you are using narrow-mouthed pint jars, leave 3/4 inch of space for liquid pack foods, 1/2 inch for dry pack foods and 1 1/2 inch for liquids. Quart-sized narrow-mouthed jars require 1 1/2 inch of headspace for liquid pack foods and other liquids. Dry packed foods stored in quart-sized narrow-mouth jars need 1/2 inch of headspace.

  • Stir the contents gently with a plastic spatula to pop any air bubbles that formed while filling the jar. Wipe around the lip of the jar with a dish towel to ensure that no food residue remains.

  • Cover the food with 1/4 inch of water to provide a protective seal between the food and the air to help avoid freezer burn. When you are ready to eat the food, rinse off this layer of ice with warm water before defrosting the contents. (This step is optional.)

  • Place the lid on the Mason jar and loosely screw it into place. Cool the jars in the refrigerator.

  • Check that the jar's contents are cold, then screw the lid on tightly and place in your freezer.

Tips & Warnings

  • "Mason" is a brand name for glass canning jars. You may freeze foods in canning jars produced by other manufacturers using the same method.
  • Never freeze a jar full of hot food because it will cause the glass to shatter.
  • Always leave the proper amount of headspace to allow for expansion when the food is frozen.

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