Canning Jars: How to pick the right size jar

There are many different size of canning jars that sometimes knowing which one to use can give you a headache. I’ll go through each common size canning jar and the typical use.

How do you know to use what jar for what purpose? What food is better in what jars? 

Keep in mind that when you can, water bath can or pressure can, that you use jars specifically designed for canning. There are jars out there that look like canning jars but won’t be able to withstand the pressure from canning. 

You don’t want to waste food and money so do yourself a favor and buy jars that will work for you.

Also, you’ll want to think about the food you’re canning and how big of a family you have. If you’re a family of 2, you don’t want to can soup in quart jars. If you’re a family of 6, you’ll want to can soups in quart jars instead of pint jars.

**If you click on a link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend things I use and love.

What can I use mason jars for?

People use mason jars for many things from decor, canning their food, storage for various things and so much more. Here’s what I like to use them for:

  • Canning
  • Dry good storage
  • Dehydrated food storage
  • Spices
  • Freezer storage
  • Sourdough starter

There are two types of canning jars. Regular mouth and wide mouth jars.

Regular mouth jar diameters are 2.75 inches when measured edge to edge.

Regular mouth canning jar are best used for pourable foods or foods that are finely chopped.

Wide mouth jar diameters are 3.38 inches when measured edge to edge. Wide mouth jars are best used for whole foods. They also are easier to clean and dig out food (such as ground beef or frozen food).

Mini mason jar 4 oz 

These are newer jars as they’ve only been out for a few years. But I love them for spices, dehydrated powders and I even have used them for sauces when packing lunches.

They are not jars to can in. The lids are small and are not sealable.

You can even buy other types of lids from sellers on Etsy. They have some with plastic flip top lids to sprinkle seasonings out. I don’t have any of those lids, but I have seen them, and I’ve been tempted to buy some. So, if you buy any, let me know what you think!

Half pint 8 oz regular mouth

These are my favorite to use when I make jams/jellies. I also use them when I make ghee.

A lot of people use these jars to store their homemade pizza sauce and fruit syrups.

You can also use them for your dehydrated powders if you tend to use a lot of a certain kind.

Half pint 8 oz wide mouth 

I don’t use these ones, but I would think they would be good for jams/jellies, chutneys, preserves and condiments.

I tend to see these used a lot more with homemade deodorant, sugar scrubs and lotions.

People also use them for storing craft items or office supplies.

*Not my picture. It’s from Walmart.

Pint 16 oz regular mouth 

These are the smallest ones I pressure can with.

I’ve canned beans, pineapple, broth, salsa, pineapple, carrots, corn, ghee and some jams though I do prefer the 8 oz for my jams.

These are also great for pie fillings, sauces, relishes and syrups.

Also, they are great sizes for dehydrated food because when food is dehydrated it tends to shrink. I use this size most often with my dehydrated food.

Honestly, I use one to store my toothbrush and toothpaste in! HA. These are great and I love them.

Pint 16 oz wide mouth 

I use this size most often with my meats that I can such as chicken, turkey and ground beef. You can fit about a pound of ground beef in one of these.

They also work for anything that you can in regular mouth.

You can also use them for fruit butters.

Pint and a half 

I’m sad to say that I don’t have any of this size. I really REALLY want some, but they are harder to find and a bit more expensive. A lot of people use them to can asparagus, pickles and soups.

You can also use them if you make extracts such as vanilla extract. Again, I haven’t done this, but it is on my list to try and do one day soon.

*Not my picture. It’s from Walmart.

Quart regular mouth 

My favorite use for this jar is to can my broth that I make. I also use them for my more common dehydrated food (such as my dehydrated onions), canned sliced vegetables, pickles, sauces and juices.

I also store some of my dry goods in them and vacuum seal them.

Regular mouth jars are best for things you can pour out such as sauces and broth.

Quart wide mouth 

These ones I use for my sourdough starter, canning potatoes, chicken and ground beef. I do use my pint jars for my meats more than my quarts, but I will occasionally can meat in them.

I also like to can soups and other meals in them.

Half gallon wide mouth 

These are my favorite to store my dry goods in. I have flour, rice, sugar, homemade brownie mix, oats and pasta in some. I use my Food Saver and vacuum seal them.

You can also can juice in them. I’ve never actually used them for canning, just storing dry goods in them.

What jar should you buy?

It just depends on what you’re using it for and what your preferences are. Also, how big your family is. The most common sizes to can in are the pint and quart size jars. If you’re just starting out, I’d suggest starting with those two sizes.

Then I suggest getting wide mouth for the ease of use.

What about lids?

When you buy canning jars they come with lids and screw bands. The lids are a one-time use. So, you’ll want to make sure you buy extras for the next time you use a jar. Some of my favorite canning lids are Superb. I buy them from Lehman’s that is based out of Ohio. I haven’t had one of those lids fail me.

The screw bands that come with the jars can be reused. Just make sure they aren’t dented and don’t have any rust on them.

Happy Canning!

Now that you know all about jars, it’s time to get yourself some and get to canning.

What’s your favorite canning jar?

Thanks so much!

Thanks for being here! It just means the world to me.

Let’s be friends! Find me on Insta, YouTube and TikTok.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *