Long Term Food Storage in Mason Jars

Long Term Food Storage in Mason Jars

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Storing food in mason jars can significantly increase the shelf life of dry foods by protecting them against air, insects, and pests. If you are thinking about making an emergency food pantry or simply looking to extend the shelf life of your food products, you should consider storing dry foods in a mason jar for better preservation.

When it comes to storage, it is not only about storing food properly, but also about keeping it safe and preserving food quality over a long period. Also, you want to be mindful of any signs of spoilage as soon as possible. Taking the early steps for proper food storage, will save you and your family stress and energy in a SHTF scenario in which food and resources are not easily accessible. Glass jars are an affordable and effective way for preppers to store food for the long term, especially now as food prices are increasing.

What is the Jarring Method?

The jarring method of food storage is using jars to store dried foods for a long period of time. Whether you’re looking to store dehydrated vegetables, dried beans, brown rice, or white flour; glass jars can serve as an effective way to protect food from the elements and pests. The jarring method has been used all over the world to preserve food, and protect against insects and rodents.

The type of containers used in storing foods is an important consideration for the state of the preserved foods when you eventually need them. In addition to jars, storing food with a plastic bucket, vacuum sealing machine, or mylar bag are other popular methods of storing food.

In this post, we will focus on glass jars, as glass is one of the better materials to store food in. But to obtain even better results, mason jars are another notch in the jarring quality you could opt-in to preserve your food. Now, let’s dive deeper into food storage in mason jars.

Different Sizes of Mason Jars

What are Mason Jars?

Mason jars are a type of glass container manufactured for food storage and preservation purposes. They are uniquely made to create a vacuum inside the jar with the help of a specially designed cover. The unique screw-top design is what makes it a mason jar. A mason jar cover consists of a flat lid housed with a rubber gasket that seals a detachable ring screw that further tightens the lid from air and moisture outside. In a nutshell, a mason jar is an airtight glass container specially made for storing a host of food items.

Glass is an ideal material for storing food because its made from non-leaching material that protects the food quality. Some other materials like plastic or wood have undesirable characteristics in that chemicals from the walls of these containers can leak into the food they are preserving over time. Using wood containers can change the flavor of the food, and plastic containers are known to add microplastics into the food, which can cause unwanted long term effects.

The chemical composition of glass makes it impossible for leaching to happen. It is an inert material which means it does not react when other substances come into contact with it. This ensures the food quality no matter how long you have it stored.

Additionally, mason jars have a usage of 10 to 13 years. After that, it will begin to break and tear more easily with additional usage. Glass jars can still be used, but they will not be as effective as they once were.

You can find mason jars in most hardware stores or grocery stores. They can be purchased in bulk supply or in pieces, and are relatively affordable, but the price usually depends on size, shape, type, and color.

Different Types of Mason Jars

Mason jars are widely used, so people have come up with different mason jars for different purposes. It is important to know the different types of glass jars for your intentions.

Typically, mason jar lids, come in two sizes, regular and wide-mouth jars. Regular is 2.5” inches and wide mouth is available at 3” inches. There are more sizes, but most jars come in these two sizes.

Mason jars also come in many sizes, you can find glass jars in:

  • 2 oz jars

  • 4 oz quarter pint

  • 8 oz half pint

  • 12 oz three-quarter pint

  • 16 oz pint

  • 24 oz pint and a half

  • 32 oz quart

  • 64 oz half gallon

  • 128 oz gallon

When picking storage containers, it’s good to be intentional with the food products you choose to store in a specific type of jar. A 2 oz mason jar would be better for storing oils, whereas a gallon-sized container will be better to store grain or cereal. Being intentional with your storage choices will allow you to maximize the benefits of the mason jar and more efficiently place items in your pantry.

They come in different colors and come up with different results

  • Clear: Clear glass jars are the most common glass. They are effective for dry food storage, but you will have to take the extra step to reduce exposure to sunlight by keeping them in a dark pantry.

  • Amber: Amber glass is ideal to limit exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. it blocks 99% of UV rays which help preserve food quality and flavor over time.

  • Other Colors: It is common to find colored mason jars for DIY projects, but their ability to be used in jarring depends on the manufacturer since not all colored mason jars are recommended for food storage purposes.

Storing food in Mason Jars

How long can you Store Food in a Mason Jar?

For most people, the purpose of storing food goes beyond keeping them safe for months or years. Nothing compares to the flavor and texture of freshly harvested food at the peak of its ripeness. For most foods, that pinnacle of ripeness can only last a few weeks after harvest. Depending on the type of food stored, mason jars can extend that period of freshness for much longer.

Food jarred is safe for consumption for an extended period as long as its seal is not broken. Food stored in mason jars retains its quality for at least a year as long as they are appropriately stored. Under the right conditions, food can remain safe for years after. High acids and high sugar preserves like fruits can last almost indefinitely in a mason jar.

Mason jars are also superb containers for storing dry goods. Dry food like grains, rice, or beans can last for several years when stored in airtight containers and in a cool dark place with a stable temperature.

Preparing to store dried food products varies depending on the particular food. Beans, for example, can last several years in glass jars without losing their quality while wheat, with its perishable oils, can only last a few months at best.

How to Store Food in Mason Jars?

Food storage in mason jars can help retain a food product’s quality and flavor for a considerable amount of time. Before you begin storing your food in a container, it’s better to plan first. Consequently, one of your first tasks is to decide what food item you need storage for. Not all food products are ideal candidates for long term storage in glass containers. Dry grains like beans and oatmeal, for example, are very good options for long term storage.

Next, is to follow some food storage best practices to ensure that everything goes according to plan. We explain how you should go about this in the following sections.

Checklist for Storing Food with Mason Jars

Do you have everything you need? Here’s a checklist for you to cross out:

  • Clean and uncontaminated workspace

  • Sterile mason jar (appropriately sized)

  • Oxygen absorber packets

  • Permanent marker or label maker

  • Funnel (optional)

Steps to Store Food in Mason Jars

Follow these simple steps to store your food item for long term storage:

Step 1: Start with a Clean and Sterile Mason Jar

If you’re using a newly purchased mason jar, simply washing and drying them will be enough. Older mason jars are fit for the job too. You just have to do a little bit more cleaning and sterilization to remove previous traces of food storage or dirt. This can be done easily with household dish soap. If the jars are physically damaged, they should no longer be used for food preservation. 

Step 2: Select and Inspect Food Item

Make sure there are no immediate signs of food contamination on your dry grains. Surprisingly, most dry grains you buy already have insect eggs on them. It’s important to treat those unhatched eggs before storage. Simply placing the food in a freezer for three days will kill the insect eggs, but you could also store the food product with oxygen absorbers (see Step 4) to remove the oxygen from the jar, killing the insect eggs.

Step 3: Filling the Jar with Food Items

With the help of a funnel, begin filling each jar carefully to avoid spillages. As you fill, try to reduce the amount of air inside the jar. Do this by pressing down on the product inside the jar as you fill it to compress air. Continue doing so as you fill the item to the top of the jar.

Step 4: Place the Oxygen Absorber

Next, place the oxygen absorbers in each jar, right on top of the food where there are air pockets. Tightly seal the jar according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Mason jars with domed metal lids enable you to observe the air compression inside as the lid is sucked in, which is a good indication you’ve done everything right.

Step 5: Label Each Jar

Use the permanent marker or a printer to label each jar with the product name, storage date, expected expiration date, and any other information you deem useful.

Step 6: Final Storage

Most of the oxygen will be absorbed in 6-12 hours. The ideal place to store the jars is a cool, dry, and dark location. Contrary to popular belief, clear glass doesn’t prevent light from reaching the product. However, an amber glass will be more effective at reducing exposure from UV rays. Also, you want a location where there are very minimal temperature fluctuations.

Which Foods can be Stored in Mason Jars?

The following products are the perfect candidate to store in mason jars with oxygen absorbers.

Protecting Dry Foods Stored in Glass Jars from Insects

Picking healthy dry food is a good way to start. But you have to account for unhatched insect eggs too. The vacuum freezer method is a great way to destroy those eggs. Put the product in a vacuum-sealed bag, then place it inside a freezer for 3 days to get the best results. You may also place the items under moderate heat for 20-30 minutes.

Finally, the oxygen absorbers are also a useful tool to prevent insects from spoiling your food. Without oxygen, insects cannot survive. Hence, a low moisture oxygen absorbers that remove all the air from the jar can serve as your final layer of protection for your dry foods.

Disadvantages of Storing Food in a Glass Jar

While glass mason jars are an attractive option for food preservation, there are some disadvantages to using this storing method for food preservation. Generally speaking, the net positives outweigh the disadvantages of using a mason jar, but you should be mindful of:

  • Fragile: Glass jars can break easily, and if shattered, picking up the broken glass can be dangerous

  • Space Occupied: Keeping jars of different sizes can take up a lot of space in your pantry. It is important to be intentional about the jar sizes, and which foods you would like to store

  • Maintenance: Having to store over a dozen jars can be difficult to track, so it will require more effort to properly label and regularly review your inventory

Other Uses for Mason jars

Other Uses for Mason Jars

As preppers and homesteaders, we need to be creative with the tools we have. Luckily for us, few jars are as versatile as mason jars as they can be used for not only canning, but also creative projects, decorations, and more. Knowing how to use mason jars for more than just food storage, will allow us to be more resourceful in a SHTF scenario as well as save money in the short term since you do not have to buy a new product for each purpose. Below are some ideas repurpose your jars:

  • Homemade Yogurt

  • Storing Lotion

  • Herb garden

  • Beeswax Candle

  • Drinking Glass

  • Water Bottle

  • Baking

  • Single serving meal

  • Salt or Pepper shaker

  • Soap Dispenser

  • Bird Feeder

For more creative ideas for making use of glass jars, here is a list of 25 unique ways to use mason jars around the house.

How to Dispose of Mason Jars?

A mason jar can last you about 10 to 13 years or longer, but after the 10-year mark, it will become fragile. At this point, when it’s past its usage, it is important to properly dispose of a glass jar once it is no longer useful. Doing so, will keep your pantry organized and tidy but also be better for the local environment. Plus, having a fragile glass container at home can be a safety hazard as shattered pieces can cause a wound.

Once you are ready to dispose of the jar, the best method of doing this is by recycling it. Glass takes 1 million years to decompose in a landfill, so the best thing to do once your jar is past its lifespan or breaks, is to recycle it. By recycling, it will be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way with the least impact on your home or the local environment.


In a SHTF scenario, having stored food in your emergency pantry will help reduce anxiety and stress during a crisis, so knowing proper food storage methods whether it’s dried foods in mason jars or storing cooking oils in a pantry is important. Additionally, if neighbors find themselves short on food in a crisis, you can barter the food in your storage for other useful tools you may need. This is invaluable knowledge for a prepper or homesteader as they can protect their food products, and help out those in their community. 

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Food Storage: Canning and Jarring 101

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