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10 Uses for Old Canning Jars

Updated on April 26, 2010
I found a picture of a canning jar turned into a sewing kit on Flickr.
I found a picture of a canning jar turned into a sewing kit on Flickr.

For the past seven years or so I have been a canner.  I have my grandmother's old canner and every year I can a hundred or so jars of food for my family to eat.  Every chance I get I buy more canning jars. I have them all over my house, and no I don't keep food all over my house.  Even if you are not a canner you can benefit from canning jars.  They come in various sizes, are easy to use and wash, don't contain any harmful chemicals like plastic containers, and can be quite decorative as well.  Here are some of my favorite uses for canning jars other than preserving food.

  1. Grow food.  Sprouts and sour dough grow great in canning jars.  The quart size works the best.
  2. Store things.  You can store just about anything in canning jars.  Buttons, nails, money, balls, candy, etc.  You can even get decorative and store fancy oils and foods in them and line them on your counter.
  3. A vase.  I love having fresh flowers in a canning jar vase.  It doesn't get much more rustic than that.  I have some very old blue canning jars that look amazing with water and flowers in them.
  4. As a drinking glass.  You can even find pint jars with handles for drinking, but the jars don't have to have a handle to be used as a drinking glass.  This is a very frugal way to get multiple uses out of one item.  Rather than buying a large number of drinking glasses for the couple of times a year that you have a lot of people over, just use your canning jars.
  5. Store spices or other dry foods.  Most people think fruits, vegetables and jam when they think about canning jars, but you can store all sorts of foods in them.
  6. As a fish bowl.  My daughter won a goldfish at a county fair. We didn't have a fish bowl so I grabbed a gallon sized canning jar and we used that.  It also doubled as our centerpiece on the table until we could get a real fish bowl.
  7. Leftovers.  Most people think Tupperware when they think of leftovers, but canning jars work better.  Have you heard of BPA?  That nasty chemical in almost all plastics?  Companies are working hard to do away with it, but I am sure they will then come up with something else we should avoid.  Glass canning jars work as well if not better.  They are microwave safe as well as dishwasher safe and come in a variety of sizes - just like Tupperware.
  8. Give a gift.  Have you ever received a cookie mix in a jar or something similar?  Fill a canning jar with whatever the recipient likes and you have an instant gift in a cute reusable package.
  9. Candle holder.  If you make your own candles, a canning jar is a great container for homemade candles. 
  10. Bug catcher or even temporary bug home.  We use these in the summer to catch fire flies.  The kids have a blast and I can just wash and reuse when we are done.


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    • KeithTax profile image

      Keith Schroeder 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      My wife and I love to can our fresh home grown produce. About half our diet comes from locally grown (most home grown ourselves)food. We save money and I think it tastes better. I certainly know what is in my food.

      Our biggest problem is having enough canning jars. We scour rummage sales for folks getting rid of their jars. Old canning jars have thicker glass and are cheaper than new canning jars.

      Some jars from store bought food can work as canning jars, too, if the lid is the right size.

      Very nice article. I love hearing from a fellow canner.

    • rkhyclak profile image

      rkhyclak 7 years ago from Ohio

      Great hub, Jennifer :) I have jars all over my house collecting things-especially loose change!

    • Shelly McRae profile image

      Shelly McRae 7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thanks, Jennifer, for the great ideas. I, to, am a canner and have a cabinet full of jars. I've used them for storing foods and such, but I like the candle holder and sewing supplies ideas as well.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Interesting ideas on canning jars. I use glass bottles that commercial jams come in for similar purposes as canning jars are somewhat rare and expensive! Als IO like to re-use things as much as possible.

      Thanks for sharing these ideas.

      Love and peace


    • GojiJuiceGoodness profile image

      GojiJuiceGoodness 7 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

      Good ideas! We use our jars mostly for leftovers. I have heard that glass is better for you than plastics.

    • entertianmentplus profile image

      entertianmentplus 7 years ago from United States

      Very cool ideas and tips.Great hub.

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 7 years ago from Virginia

      great hub...and I am a firm believer in canning jars, whether used to preserve fresh peaches or in the many ways you described! Love this one, Jennifer!

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Awesome hub :) I use these for my spa recipes and much more, this Uses for Old Canning Jars is way cool and a lot of fun. You can buy the new canning jars for very reasonable prices and keep the fun going... Thanks and Peace :)

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 7 years ago

      I wondered how there could be ten uses for canning jars, but sure enough, you came up with ten good ones. And, in fact, as I was reading along, I remembered a restaurant I used to like in Vermont which used canning jars with handles for beer and soft drinks.

    • Kay Creates profile image

      Kay Creates 7 years ago from Ohio

      Good ideas

    • profile image

      EnLydia Listener 7 years ago

      nice had me picturing a busy kitchen in the fall...and then a kitchen with clean jars waiting to be filled with an assortment of things. I wish I knew how to can food...that is a great skill to have.