July 25, 2016

3/4 Jars

A couple times a year my Dad sends me a box of empty canning jars. Most of them were sent by me to him and my stepmom, full of jams, jellies, and figs. They send them back and include any other jars they have saved, as long as those jars can be fitted with a regular-mouth canning ring.


All the commercial jars they send are made by Mason, and of course I want to reuse them. However, they have been downsized: the pint jars are actually 15 ounces and the quart jars only hold a pint and a half.

Camera doesn't do it justice!
This tendency to downsize seems to be across the board. We all know 2x4s are no long two inches by four inches. And does anyone else remember when cans of tuna fish contained 6 ounces? Or when they went down to 5.5 ounces? Now they're at 5; what next? There's hardly anything that can be purchased as a pound anymore, 16-ounce jars and cans now range from 14.25 to 15 ounces, and "quarts" are now 12 ounces. Instead of raising prices, they whittle down on what they give you. Makes more than one of my favorite recipes torn from old ladies magazines slightly off kilter.

And that's the problem: everything I cook is geared toward pints and quarts, because, thankfully, canning jars remain the same. A pint of pizza sauce makes three pizzas. A pint of figs is perfect for two breakfasts. A quart of soup is just the right amount for lunch. A 3/4-quart jar, on the other hand, is too much for some things or too little for others.

I have a growing number of these jars and have yet to figure out the best way to use them. Sure, I could recycle them, but I'm not convinced that the energy cost for recycling some things is really worth anything other than making us feel better for supposedly helping to save the planet. As far as glass recycling, I hear some places no longer accept glass for recycling, although I don't know what that's all about.

Do you save and reuse jars? Do you have some of these three-quarter jar? What do you do with them? What do you put in them? I'm open to ideas.

3/4 Jars © July 2016 by Leigh at

64 comments:

  1. I use them to store baking soda, dried fruit, rice, dried beans, etc. I'm also save seeds in them. Last year I stuffed a bunch of them with spinning fiber. It looks colorful on the shelves and keeps them free of moths.

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    1. Free of moths! How do you manage that! I have a terrible time with moths, even in sealed jars and packages. :(

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  2. Use em for honey and other stuff that is doled out in whatever amounts?

    Maybe a lot of loose nails?

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  3. We use them for everything, they are all used by mainly spaghetti sauce companies and not made as canning jars. Mason is just the type of jar not necessarily a canning jar as some won't take a canning lid. I seldom go by a recipe so it makes no difference to us.
    Glass is not being recycled because the global economy is in recession and the price of most commodities are down, even oil, the TV says how good things are but it is a lie.

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    1. Ha! Glad we don't have TV! That does explain the rejection of glass at the recycling centers. (So much for saving the earth, I guess. In the end, it's all about money.)

      The 3/4 jars I get locally are also mostly spaghetti sauce, with odd lids that don't take a canning ring (and you're right, they're also called "mason" jars). The ones my dad sends from the midwest held pickled mushrooms and use regular size lids. I've never seen these products locally though, so the distribution of types of jars must be somewhat regional.

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  4. I remember my mom complaining yrs ago(20+) about coffee, can is the same but now a pond is 12 oz.We dont notice until much to late

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    1. Yes pounds is another one. Kind of makes you wonder how far they'll go.

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  5. The size/price management of food helps keep the illusion prices for food are steady, you still pay the same for a bag of chips, unless you pay attention to the content amount.
    As to odd sized jars, I use them for all sorts of things, buttons, glue sticks, cinnamon sticks, hard candy, q-tips, cotton balls, bandaids, in fact the first aid kit in the barn is an off size jar with some bandaids, tweezer's, iodine, gauze and ointment in it. They store things well and you can see what you have in them right away.
    The downsizing of packaged foods seems to go generally unnoticed, I wonder if it is because precooked and prepared foods are increasing in popularity?

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    1. That's exactly right - it's an illusion, or rather, a deception. I've read more than one account of the awareness of downsizing when suddenly a recipe wasn't coming out right. Then we look at the size to discover it ain't what it used to be.

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  6. Hi Leigh, You are so right. How about bacon? A lb. of bacon is as you say 14.5-15 oz. Grrr! On a lighter note:) I like the 3 cup jars for green beans since they don't pack in like corn or peas. For those we just use pint jars, but for green beans, a pint wasn't enough and a quart too much. 3 cups is just right. Ball now makes 3 cup (3/4 qt.) jars. I will probably be getting one more box of them before beans are ready to can.

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    1. Ball now makes a 3/4-quart jar? I hope it's not a sign of things to come. I had to buy a new water bath canner last year and notice that when I can quarts, I can't really get the 1- to 2-inch water coverage they recommend.

      Green beans now, that's something I need in quarts. My favorite green bean recipe calls for a quart of canned beans. I don't want to fuss with the downsizing of that!

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    2. I have bought and LOVED the 3 cup canning jars. They occupy the same footprint on the refrigerator shelf but hold half-again as much. Perfect for refrigerator-door items like pickles and homemade condiments.

      As for re-using the odd-sized jars, who cares? I know how to measure, and anyway mostly just use how much I need, not by the pint or quart. A cup or two of unused tomatoes or sauce? I pop them in the freezer for next time.

      Basically, I am always pleased to have re-usable glass jars and use them every chance I get. I make new jelly in glass "quart" jelly jars; I find their lids are reusable a few times for canning although they do not fit standard canning rings; same thing with non-standard lid spaghetti sauce jars.

      I even have a couple of old 40-ounce jars left from, I think, golden syrup. My favorites for storing dried beans, etc. Same with glass 2-quart bottles from juice - perfect for storing and pouring out rice, pasta, beans.

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    3. Lynda, maybe this is telling, but for some of my fav recipes I'm set in my ways about those amounts, lol. I like seeing how people are using the 3-cup jars. I'm getting good ideas. I have a hard time throwing out (even recycling is throwing out) any kind of container. I must be part pack rat.

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  7. I have one whole cabinet crammed with these odd jars. I recently started dehydrating stuff from my garden and have been using those off size canning jars to store the dried herbs and veggies in. I also use them to store homemade spice mixes, homemade apple cider vinegar and whatever else doesn't need to be exact for canning. My hubby likes to stick his man stuff in them too. Like wire nuts, odd nuts and screws etc.

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    1. You're right, they do come in handy for lots of stuff as a lot of folks have mentioned. I especially like my 3/4 size wide mouth peanut butter jars for making kefir. I like the idea of using them for apple cider vinegar too, when I finally get to making that. (And PP's idea of using them to store honey.)

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  8. I guess I have enough of the regular sized quarts and pints that I just toss them in the recycling bin.

    I hate the downsizing of stuff especially since a lot of my recipes are older recipes. I end up putting in less of this and estimating less of everything else or I put in two much or end up with extra in a can that I have to figure out how to use somewhere else.

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    1. I'm guessing they're hoping we'll end up buying two cans or jars instead of one to make all those favorite old recipes. That way, it costs twice as much to make them!

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  9. Blogger's new tricks of saving a draft when "publish" is selected really messed up this post. Fixed! Sorry about that. I thought that old stuff was deleted.

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  10. miracle whip was my bell wether for years. in a short time the 89 cent jar became the 4$ jar -on sale- and the 32 oz. is now 30 oz., unless it is even a smaller amount since i quit buying it months ago.
    jars are great for buttons, coins, et cetera.
    as to the recipes, the burdensome thing is to measure weight of ingredients and add more of the ingredient to what comes out of the jar in order to make up the weight.
    or can modify recipes to work with smaller amounts.
    pain in neck but worth it for a favorite recipe.
    it is all a bummer.

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    1. My grandmother loved her Miracle Whip! Sadly that's a huge price jump especially considering the downsizing. Would really rather avoid recalculating recipes, which is why I want to stick to canning real pints and quarts!

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  11. p. s. - is it unsafe to use the mason sauce jars from the grocery section to can?
    i thought they were regular canning jars.

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  12. I've always been told that you can't can in re-used jars like that... I'd love to hear if other people are re-using store bought jars for canning with good results!

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    1. Deborah and Meredith, I've heard that too about not reusing commercial jars for canning, that it isn't safe. But then, here's me, always asking "why?" I've also read that commercial canning is at higher temperatures and pressure than the home canners can attain. So I can't see that the jars would be inferior, but rather should be better able to take the processing. I've been reusing commercial jars for years for canning and have had no more trouble than with purchased canning jars. Some of the commercial jars have thinner rims, but if seals are always checked before opening jars and using contents, then so what? I've had no more seal failures with commercial jars than with those designated for canning.

      I'm sure someone will come along and whip me into shape, but until I get a good rationale, my experience does not contraindicate using them for canning. The only other reason I can think for them saying that, is because they'd rather us buy so they can make a profit.

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    2. I've also heard that it isn't safe to reuse commercial jars for canning. However, I used to follow a gal on youtube who says she reuses these jars all the time and hasn't ever had a problem. Me, I like to be safe so I only use them for water bath..not pressure canning. I don't usually buy products in jars at the store though (there aren't a lot still in glass that I use). I did recently buy some cheesecake desserts in jars and I canned cherry sauce in them afterward...they canned up just fine.

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    3. Ladies, my mother reused all commercial jars that would accept either a wide or regular mouth ring. One thing you want to do is make sure the shoulder and threads are deep enough for the ring to screw completely down, tight.

      Mother only used her commercial jars for things she was water-bath canning, but I have used them to pressure can with in a pinch. When I have enough room and produce for one more jar and all I have clean is a commercial jar. I have not used them for canning things like corn or meats because of the length of time under pressure. With that said, I have had less breakage with the commercial jars than the jars manufactured for home canning. And it was the newer jars!

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    4. Renee, about the only thing I buy in glass jars these days is natural peanut butter, the kind that floats the oil and has to be stirred. They are very heavy duty and I use them for all sorts of things, but they won't take a canning lid!

      Besides the 3/4 jars my dad sends me, I have quite a few 3/4 jars from spaghetti sauce I've canned when I couldn't get enough for the year. Since they don't take a canning ring, I use them for all the things mentioned in the comments, plus my dried herbs. The ones from my dad though, I'd like to use for canning since the rings fit.

      Judy, excellent point about the jar neck and threads being tall enough to accommodate completely screwing on the ring.

      Your comment about less breakage sort of supports my point about commercial canning and the quality needed for it. That being said, I don't ever recall using those jars for anything other than water bath canning.

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  13. I gave a bunch of the smaller sized jars too. I do use them for canning if I'm out if the real jars, but I mostly use them for storing dehydrated goods. As long as the lids fit and I can get a good vacuum seal, I use them.

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    1. Vacuum sealing! That's exactly what I need to do. I used to store a lot of dried goods in glass jars but have had a terrible problem with pantry moths getting into them. Rugosa rose hips must be pantry moth crack! They go for that first and even smell out the stuff I hide.

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    2. I freeze, for a minimum of two weeks, anything that is going to be stored dried (to kill bugs and their eggs). That includes rice, beans, corn meal. Then store sealed in glass after bringing to room temperature to avoid condensation problems.

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    3. Do you mean vacuum sealing? Unless they're already inside jars with lids, those moths seem to be able to walk through jar walls. If they're coming in on things I harvest at home, then I need a bigger freezer.

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  14. I don't typically buy products that come in jars as I have to make my own sauces because of my picky family. Our brand of peanut butter and mayo both come in plastic jars...I should look to see if any brands still come in glass though. and like I said above, I'll water bath in those reused jars, but no pressure canning. (btw: I need a new basket for my water bath canner. :-/ )

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    1. and what is up with the thrift stores charging so much for canning jars?!?! The one thrift store I go to charges more for used jars than I could pay for brand new ones.

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    2. The peanut butter I get is "natural," i.e. needing to be refrigerated or stirred to keep the oil from separating.

      And I've wondered the same thing about thrift store canning jars! Don't they know they can be purchased for a fraction of the cost by the dozen new???

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    3. I have always found that the kind of peanut butter you describe costs a lot more than regular on sale, with coupons. If you are a careful grocery-store shopper and use coupons, you may also notice that the standard brands also come in "natural" that you have to stir in. I never pay more than $1.00 per pint jar, and usually a lot less.
      But honestly, I would just make my own peanut butter in the food processor as I always used to do, if that is important to you. You can probably buy plain peanuts for less per pound on sale, roast them, and grind in the FP until they are the texture you want. I always added a little salt, but there is no need to add oil or anything else. With a little practice you will figure out where to stop in the processing, the first few times I went too far and had soupy butter - but I guess that is when you make peanut sauce or peanut soup!

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    4. Yes, the plain peanut butter that has to be stirred is indeed more expensive. I've seen that most of the major brands offer a "natural no-stir" peanut butter, but it contains sugar and palm oil. One of our grocery stores has a PB making machine, where you can bring your own container and make it on demand, but the peanuts in it are so stale that the PB smells strongly rancid. That's a shame really, because it's a great idea. My manual grain mill has a peanut pusher, but I've never tried to make my own. Finding fresh peanuts might be a challenge, but I should start to keep my eyes peeled.

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  15. I'll take any jars I can get. I found two boxes of old Mason jars at a bazaar for $1 each box. Most of them were the liter jars that fit the regular tops, but some were wide mouth which I have no tops for yet. I guess I don't particularly care about amounts, I mean, if I make a batch of yogurt, they go into the Mason jars and whatever doesn't fit goes into a smaller one. I also put my dried herbs in the jars. My bf uses the odd ones for his workshop. The wide mouth jars right now are just gathering dust except for one or two that I put tea lights in. I'll never get rid of any of them though!

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    1. Rain, the best price I've found for canning jars is either Family Dollar or Dollar General. Both places sell a case for under $10. I finally sprung for Tattler lids, but when I bought disposable lids, I used to get them at Fred's for a dollar a dozen (although I think that's gone up to about $1.25 a dozen nowadays).

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  16. I've tried canning with the recycled jars, and they are the only ones that crack (in waterbath, no less). I would find something else to do with them that doesn't involve canning. The honey comment was great. Also the nuts and bolts - screw the lids into a 2 x 4 (or whatever it is now), and you just unscrew the jar from the fixed lid.

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    1. Really! Interesting. I've only had a jar break once during canning and that was a conventional canning jar. Of course, nothing I buy nowadays is either the right size or shape for canning. But I sure would like to can with those jars my dad sent. Maybe applesauce.

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  17. Oh, yes, canning jars are never thrown away unless broken. Even if the rim gets chipped they can be used for things that don't require a seal. Your product shrinking comment is spot on. Drives me nuts. Looks at a box of graham crackers lately? They're probably about 2/3 the size they were and there's fewer in each packet.

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    1. Good point about checking for cracks, especially the rims. That holds for any kind of jar.

      No, I haven't looked at graham crackers lately, except to notice that to make a batch of s'mores would cost about $12 to buy the graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate! I thought that was outrageous.

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    2. Leigh, that was part of my job after gathering up however many jars needed from the "fruit house" and washing them. Check those rims to be sure no chips or they won't seal properly. Oh, the thousands of jars I've washed in a # 3 wash tub.

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    3. Now that's a childhood memory!

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  18. And have you measured the size of tissues and toilet paper lately? I cannot believe how we get so much less for a higher price. Do they think we don't notice? I will never discard my old canning jars. In a few years my quart jars might well be sold as - gallons.... :-(

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    1. My guess is that, while they don't make mention of any of it, they don't really care whether we notice or not! It's not like there's anything we can do about it!!!

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  19. Wow! Am I late to the party on this one! When we used to use pasta sauce, I saved all the Atlas Mason jars. My fruit was a no-pectin operation so it never was measured other than a 1:1 ratio. I also used those off-sized jars for making pickled green beans. The vinegar/water solution was heated in a pot then poured over raw beans with the salt and spices in the bottom of the jar. I HAVE noticed the ounce size of everything getting shaved. I have also noticed that there are mfrs. who no longer use the Mason jars, only they LOOK like them. When you try to put on a two part lid, the neck is just that LITTLE bit too small to make a seal. GRRRR. In answer to what to do with all that glass: I am making a bottle wall. Glass bricks made out of bottles. Beer, food, medicine, wine and liquor. I have been collecting them like a crazy person. Now that I am not allowed to lift over 20 pounds again, I will be mixing up little tiny batches of mortar and building up a beautiful, multi-colored monument to modern waste. My friends are contributing, too. It makes them feel better about their own waste to know it is going into art. I'm sure the goats will be climbing it in no time! It is going to be my artistic version of a sheep fold. That, my friend is a LOT of glass in various sizes that will live on to serve another purpose!

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    1. I hadn't even thought of a glass wall (thinking canning, mostly), but I've seen them and they are beautiful, especially when various colors of glass are used. Yours will look great!

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  20. If you had an out of the way place, you could use a bracket to attach a line of vertical jars, down the wall. Then you could stick bunches of herbs or seed heads on stalks, in order to dry them.

    If you have a mantel, you could do a horizontal line of jars instead.

    I'm always looking for ways to dry my seed heads. At the moment it seems to be popping them into a bowl and finding some random bench top to sit it on. As you can imagine, it gets quite crowded. So I wondered if your excess of jars, could help you save seeds instead?

    Or you can use them as vases to bring in fresh flowers from the garden, or keep cut herbs on the kitchen counter, with a little water in the bottom to keep them fresh.

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    1. Yes, I do use my jars for herbs and seeds, although I especially like plastic Parmesan cheese containers for the seeds, because they have flip openings in the lids for shaking out seeds.

      One of the problems I have is not enough room for everything. We don't have a tiny house (thank goodness), but it is a small house. Our type of lifestyle requires storing and saving a lot of things, so I live with a sense of constant clutter.

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  21. I do save jars, but not for canning. I use them to hold nails, reloading primers, bullets, nuts and bolts, etc. I like jars because I can see what's in them, instead of reading the label on a coffee can and then still having to take the lid off to see what's in there.

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    1. I have to agree about glass jars versus coffee cans. I use some coffee cans, but I end up putting more of them in the recycling bin than than the glass.

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  22. I used to save every jar and reuse for storage of dry goods, herbs, all sorts of things. But as my joints have gotten more painful, I've stopped using jars for nails and bits of hardware because of the greater likelihood of ending up having to clean up a mess of broken glass AND bits of hardware when a jar slips out of my hand.
    This is the first I've heard that glass isn't being recycled, and I hope it's not true everywhere. As far as I know, the transfer station in my town is still recycling glass and metal and paper.

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    1. Well, that's true it's a mess if they get broken!

      I only because aware of glass not being accepted for recycling recently. I saw a sign in town that said city trash pickup would no longer accept glass. Then when Dan went to the landfill, he had to show his drivers license and get a sticker for his windshield to prove residency. Seems folks from the next county were bring all their glass to our county landfill because theirs wasn't accepting glass anymore.

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  23. I collect the Atlas jars because I use a pint of homemade ravioli sauce at a time and the Atlas jars will hold that amount plus enough space that nothing leaks over in the pressure canner. I never fill them to the top as I just don't need that much, but family send me lots of those empty jars so I 2/3 fill them.

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    1. You know, I hadn't thought about that - filling jars only partially. That would be a good way to use those jars and still get the amounts I like to work with.

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  24. I have a variety of jars - from unopened new jars to used jars that I can in. I'm now saving all the commercial glass jars that come my way. I also have the big, one-gallon jars. I use the 1-gallon jars to store my bulk sugar, flour and salt in. It's much easier to grab a jar for me when I'm in the middle of canning or baking than wrestling with the big bags. (Yes, the flour is stored in the freezer for 3-weeks before transferring to the gallon jars.)
    I use my extra quart jars for shelled walnuts. I Seal-A-Meal them to suck out all the air - when I open them, even after one + years, they are as fresh as when I stored them. When I'm satisfied with the amount of jars I have in the pantry, I freeze the rest. Our neighbor has walnut trees and we can have them all if we want them. We dry our own walnuts in the winter under our wood stove.
    I have old, antique, blue jars that I have the tin lid tops and rings. I store old marbles in them and place the jars in window seals. My goodness, people go crazy over those jars and I've been offered a lot of money for them (silly people - don't they know I want them?). I re-use and re-use all of my canning jars, both quarts and pints. I check each jar very carefully to verify they are good to go. When in doubt, don't use it. The ones that aren't used for canning any longer are stuffed with seed packets, plant markers and pens, extra pens and pencils, paper clips (for some reason my paper clips are growing and I don't buy them - hmmm).
    I use canning jars for all sorts of things, but I do NOT allow my hubby to store nuts, bolts or screws in them. These pieces get too heavy and could easily crack the jars. I'd rather not go there. I do, however, save all the big mayo jars and let him use those. You can see through them enough to know what's inside.
    Yes, I've been noticing the "downsizing" in our foods for sometime now. I think it's a crying shame how the manufactures are taking advantage of people. I'd rather they be honest, raise the price if needed, and let the consumer decide if they want the product or not. Have you noticed the laundry detergent and bleach? What a joke. I realize that most of the population don't pay any attention to prices or weights, but for those who do, it's very frustrating.
    I feel your pain!
    Bobbie

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    1. I love my gallon jars! Excellent for so many things I order in bulk such as gelatin powder or arrowroot powder, also grains that I'm storing in 50 pound bags, like you, in the freezer! Excellent idea about the Seal-a-Meal. I think that would help me too, as long as I didn't have to store anything in plastic.

      I don't pay much attention to laundry detergent but yes, I've noticed that bleach rarely comes in gallon containers. I'm surprised they haven't downsized vinegar yet, but I suppose that's next.

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  25. What a pile of comments -- clearly you have touched a nerve! :) I was wondering about this this other day. An elderly friend gives us his old jars that he buys tomato sauce in, and they are Mason, but I thought they looked kind of skinny. I bet they are those cut-down sized ones you're talking about! I'm glad you posted about this, or I wouldn't have figured it out. Canning jar sizes should be sacrosanct! ugh.

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    1. For canning you just have to make sure the canning rings fit! I collect the others for so long and when I have too many they go to the recycling bin. Thankfully I can way more than I need to buy, so I have very few jars needing recycling these days.

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  26. Having been raised by mid western parents who were in their youth at the time of the Great Depression HECK YES. Saving jars, foil and the usual suspects are in my DNA. I have to periodically make myself go through my stash to get motivated and figure out how to trim down so I don't run out of storage space. And that process is like pulling hen's teeth. Nice blog post!

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    1. In the DNA, lol. I save foil too! And reuse plastic zip bags, although I use those a lot less than I used to. That sense of wastefulness that comes with consumerism is frustrating. It's a huge motivator for wanting to get off the buy/dispose merry-go-round.

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  27. Lots of good suggestions here! The only thing I can think of to add would be baking mixes, if you make those ahead of time. For us, one loaf of bread is about 3 cups flour, plus a little bit of salt and leavening that would probably fit in the top.

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    1. Premixed baking mixes is a great idea. They could probably be vacuum packed as well.

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