How to Store Empty Canning Jars | The Best Way


Are you a canner who struggles to find a method for storing your canning jars that actually works? Canning your own fruits, vegetables, jams, and more can be a blast, and your spoils can be even more rewarding to enjoy, but the supplies can sometimes be a hassle.

The best way to store empty canning jars is in a sturdy storage container like a cardboard box with dividers, a wooden box, or any other non-flimsy container. Whichever type you choose, make sure they are separated and not able to clink together. Otherwise, you can get chips and nicks.

I recommend using a “moving kit” box, like this one, designed for safe transport during a move. They work perfectly for keeping jars safe while in storage.

When storing these jars, you have to keep in mind; they are heavy. A flimsy thin-walled box may not be strong enough to hold them, depending on how many jars you put in there and how sturdy the box is. Additionally, throwing them all in a plastic tub is disorganized and can cause them to get chipped. Let us look at these ways to ease your stress. 

Dealing with the lids, rings, and jars themselves can seem impossible to organize together and might even take the fun out of it. Keep reading to discover the best way to store your canning jars and supplies.

Clean the Jars and Prepare for Storage

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Is the canning season over? Then it is time to put the supplies back on the shelf. The cleaning and storing process is not too extensive, nor does it take that much time at all.

Your jars, lids, and rings should be stored with care and thought to keep this process enjoyable and stress-free.

When you are done using your canning items, take these steps to put them away, so they are in pristine condition for their next use. Here is what to start with: 

  • Remove lids and rings and clean them thoroughly
  • Dry the lids and rings thoroughly

Beginning with clean lids and rings is essential for your canning storage and organization. 

Removing Lids and Cleaning

It is important that you do not reuse the lids, so once you are done using a jar, throw its lid away. The lids have a seal that is only good for one use, and once you open your jar of goodness, the lid cannot be resealed. The rings, on the other hand, you should keep for your next use. 

The jars and rings should be hand washed in warm soapy water or put in the dishwasher removing all food residue and killing all bacteria. You are going to be leaving these jars untouched for a while, and you do not want anything bad growing in your jars when you are not looking. 

Dry These Items Thoroughly

Cleaning the jars carefully is a given. However, another very important part is drying before you store them. Drying them is beneficial, so your storage container does not get all wet and possibly damaged.

The most important aspect of drying thoroughly is to prevent cloudiness from accruing on your jars. The reason untouched jars get cloudy is that there are minerals in water, and leftover water in your jars will allow them to build up. You may air dry your jars but make sure to wipe them out before storing them to prevent this as well. 

Put Jars in a Sturdy Container

Did you just finish off the last of your freshly canned tomato salsa and are not sure what to do with all the jars? It can be difficult to find a storage method that works best for all your jars, so they are not clunking around when you have to move them. You do not want that and risk breaking or chipping them. 

Picking the right container will make the whole process easier and less stressful, so even if you have to spend some money to make your life easier, it may well be worth it.

There are a few different containers and methods that work well for storing these glass jars. We will look at the best ones: 

  • Box with dividers (What I recommend)
  • Wooden box
  • Other non-enclosed storage

Storing your containers

When storing these jars, you have to keep in mind; they are heavy. A flimsy cardboard box may not be strong enough to hold them, depending on how many jars you put in there and how sturdy the box is. Additionally, throwing them all in a plastic tub is disorganized and can cause them to get chipped. Let us look at these ways to ease your stress. 

1. Cardboard Box with Dividers

Cardboard is the best material for storing your canning jars. This is because when they inevitably move around, the cardboard absorbs the shock keeping them from breaking.

When purchasing mason jars, they generally come in a sturdy cardboard box with dividers, but if you have been using them for a while, you may not have that original box anymore. If you do not have a sturdy enough box around, order a glass moving box with dividers. This is a little more expensive, but this box will keep your jars safe and last a long time. 

With any box, you need dividers because you do not want the jars touching. If you have a sturdy cardboard box and you can make any kind of shockproof dividers, go for it. This is a cheap and easy way to store your jars safely. While you do not want the jars touching each other, you never want to stack them on top of each other; this will surely risk damage to your jars.

An example you may have is a wine case box or beer case box. If you have ever bought these items, you know they are heavy duty and keep that precious liquid safe, and they already come with dividers. Another good thing about these boxes is the size of the wine or beer bottles is about the same size as the mason jars.

The Box I Recommend

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2. Wooden Box

Storing your canning jars in a wooden box is another great option. Wood is a lot sturdier than cardboard, and you would not have to worry about the bottom of the box giving out. These can even withstand the weight of full canning jars for storage as well as empty ones. 

The only downside is that wooden boxes are not as easy to come by and can be expensive to purchase.

You can also save some space with the cardboard box and wooden box options by stacking these boxes on top of each other. Just be sure to not stack them too high and keep them out of the way of traffic to keep them safe.

3. Non-Enclosed Storage

If you do not wish to have them in an enclosed container or do not have one, you may think about putting them on some kind of shelf or rack. 

  • The best ones to look for are for heavyweight items, have a solid bottom, and keep the jars contained in some way
  • One of the best canning jar storage racks you can find is this freestanding jar rack, which is easy to set up and can store a large number of mason jars

These are not necessarily specific to canning jars but work very well and take up minimal space.

If you store your jars exposed in this way, you want to keep them away from food or water (to avoid washing again), dusty and unclean environments.

Pro Tip: Want a free option? Often, your local grocery store will have divded boxes that hold something like jars of peanut butter. Either look for them on the shelf or ask a manager if they have any they are throwing away that you can have.

Storing Your Storage Containers

If you have your mason jars put away in their respective containers, where do you store those containers? You do not want them out in the way of your daily activities. Store them in a safe, dry, low-traffic area. You can stack the box of jars on top of each other but only 2 boxes high. Stacking them any higher may cause them to tip over, as these are heavy boxes, to begin with.

And what about the extra lids you have after your canning event? Keep them in their respective boxes if you have them. Being that you are not stacking jars on top of each other in their sturdy and safe box, there is empty space between the jars and the top of the box. Just place them on top of the jars to save space and keep track of your lids.

Also, make sure to keep the lids dry and out of the way of dust, food, and any other liquid or humidity; this may affect their ability to seal when you pull them out to use them the next time. 

What if you got a non-enclosed storage shelf? These generally take up a limited amount of space, so you can store them in your pantry, garage, or any other closet that will be kept dry.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the easiest, cheapest, and probably best way to store canning jars in the original packaging. If you don’t have it, you can purchase a divided storage box or ask your local grocer for divded boxes that would fit the task perfectly for you.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for stoppin’ by!

For more, don’t miss Can You Reuse Canning Lids? | A 50+ Year Canner Weighs In).

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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