Sometimes it feels like 2020 is out to get all of us. Especially those of us who can and store our own food. Canning jars are impossible to come by and if you do find some, the prices are outrageous. Here’s why, and what you can do about it.
The shortage can be blamed on several things. A lot of people say there’s an uptick in people trying to learn to can. The number of Americans growing gardens increased, therefore, so did the willingness to learn to can. Of course, sales have gone up as people try to become more self-sufficient, which is always recommended. But that means those of us who regularly can and buy a few jars each year to replace those our kids dropped won’t be able to do so. Most of us have plenty, but replacements would be nice.
So what do you do if you want to can some food, but can’t find jars? I suggest asking a neighbor if they have any spares or you could check-in garage sales. I have noticed that some people purchased a boatload of jars with the intent to can, but never did. Those jars tend to make their way to garage sales. (We have also found great preparedness items, such as food-grade storage buckets and lids at garage sales.)
Unfortunately, there’s no real substitute for those glass mason jars and if your budget allows, just buy what you can for the ridiculously high prices being asked for them online. But Weck jars come close. Made in Germany, Weck jars can be used for canning, however, the process has not been confirmed “safe” by the USDA.
These would be great to use as other storage jars, however, if you are concerned about canning with them. That could reduce the use of jars for other things making the few you do have available for canning use. For example, we use mason jars to keep nuts and seeds in our refrigerator. We have several different kinds and when we needed jars, we went to the dollar store and purchased some to use just for refrigerator storage that we didn’t want to can with. This netted us 5 more jars to put some pickles and carrots in. Dollar store jars don’t look as nice as the Weck jars, so if aesthetic is important to you, you may choose to consider the Weck jars.
Don’t let your budget or one defeatest trip to get jars to get in the way of a lifestyle of more self-sufficiency. Continue to check at your local dollar stores, I do every time I go by because you never know. A friend of mine actually found some canning jars on the clearance shelf way up high almost hidden and was able to buy them. I was not so lucky, but that’s why I to cheap jars just to store my seeds in to free up other jars I was using for storage, at the time.
Brainstorm other ways to get jars. Another suggestion I have is bartering. Maybe you know someone who bought some mason jars and never uses them. Ask to buy them, or offer them a jar of food or two in exchange for the jars. Bartering is a long lost skill but society was once built upon it!
I’ve discovered in the past few months that you really cannot have a “too big” harvest or too many canning jars. If this coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that those who already had a garden knew how to can, and leaned toward the self-sufficient lifestyle were doing the right thing all along.