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The Canning Shortage of 2020: Here’s How You Can Find These Essential Supplies

Sara Tipton
November 7th, 2020
Ready Nutrition
Comments (11)

This article was originally published by Sara Tipton at Tess Pennington’s Ready Nutrition. 

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 aesthetics 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 like to buy 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.

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    Author: Sara Tipton
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    Date: November 7th, 2020
    Website: https://readynutrition.com/

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    1. penny saved says:

      You mentioned a friend finding some canning jars on a high shelf and sometimes you do get lucky. At my local dollar store,I was looking for some items which I couldn’t find.It turns out what I wanted(including some candles and other items) were there,but,like you mentioned just out of reach.A friend of mine has been canning for years and I think I’ll be trying it myself.At the dollar store I visit,they put some older items on different shelves when they get new merchandise,so, at times I must look around to find what I want.As horrible as our economy is now,it is worth the extra effort to dig around these stores.There have been quite a few times I have found a hidden gem or two and of course-you can’t beat the price.I wish everyone good luck with their food canning.I also hope more people are prepping and doing for themselves.With the possible food shortages ahead-anything we can do to help ourselves can only help.Thanks for the article.

    2. Hausfrau says:

      Weck jars not declared safe???? They have been the standard over here in the Netherlands and in Germany since before WWII. Generations of my family have used nothing but Weck jars. As far as I know, they were the inventors which is why we have two separate words for ‘canning’ in Dutch and German: canning with tin “inblikken” and canning in jars “wecken”.

    3. Yard sales have proven to be the best prepping source imaginable for me! I have been a prepper for years, and a yard sale fanatic for almost as long. Canning supplies? We have a truckload of jars, rings, and flats and we probably didn’t pay $50.00 total over the years! Talk about money in the bank, and none of it goes bad before use! I have a Big Berkey filter, band new, bought at a moving sale for $8.00……..”You sure must like coffee to buy a pot that big!” At a motel closing sale, a plastic tote full of personal care supplies: Cream rinse, shampoo, soaps, hand lotions, all bought for $3.00 total price. And candles? I have amassed around 250#, a candle making kit, and many holders, And I never pass up a box of broken or stubbed candles. Knives and hatchets and axes and shovels galore, pennies on the dollar.I have kerosene lanterns, wicks, and globes, all bought at sales, and everyone should have 100+ Coleman lantern mantles. Might not use them all but what a barter item. Shoelaces, boot oil, roll after roll of plastic sheeting, three or four awls with needles, and most importantly, instructions! More rope and twine and paracord than anyone needs, 5 gamma lids at a buck apiece, and believe it or not, at an estate sale, over a hundred #10 cans, name brand, of assorted survival food at 25¢ a can! The heirs had no idea what they were selling and didn’t want it for themselves.I could go on, but the bottom line is that yard and garage sales can be gold mines! My preps would be nowhere near as complete as they are if I wasn’t a thrifty scrounger!

    4. Darth Skippy says:

      Assuming that the market completely crashes, and that all international trade has ceased, once and for all, a version of the paraffin method was accomplished with tallow, in ancient times, and they would have dyed the ingredients, using natural pigments. Many iterations of a plug and a vacuum are physically possible.

      In the first place, why are you sourcing bulk items, at retail, whose presence in your community is dog-eat-dog. The chain franchise is covered by a property tax on your home and hearth. The power to tax is the power to destroy. Their hiring practices are the cause of your arguments, are a driving source of illegitimacy, and eventually, social collapse. The warning sign is your bad day or bad experience, in your community of interest.

      Unless you’re getting preferential treatment of some kind, how do these people not leave a bad taste in your mouth.

    5. Andrea.Iravani. says:

      America’s probability for succeeding is tragically zero. A country that has corruption and predation as a business model is destined to fail. Attempts to try to get people to accept that they have no rights will not succeed, and even if for some strange reason that people would accept that, for which I will not be among them, it will still fail, because it is still an unprofitable or viable business model. This strategy to attempt to get people to accept that they do not have rights is led by corrupt, incompetent, degenerates incapable of surviving without violating the rights and property of others, and if they were capable of surviving without violating people’s rights and property, they would be on the side of demanding that people’s constitutional rights be upheld, because they would have no reason to want to violate people’s constitutional rights, and they would want their constitutional rights respected as well as their childrens’, if their children were competent. Silicon Valley, the financial sector, large segements of the media and alternative media, the corporate sector, education sector, and government sector are into a really sick and freaked out creepy life style that the majority of people find so morally repugnant that it just won’t catch on. It also endangers people’s lives and property, and places the most vulnerable and defenseless people at the highest risk of predatory, psychopathic abuse. They say that 50% of all internet traffic will be from appliances. Why do appliances need to use the internet? What purpose does this serve the appliance owner? Is the appliance owner now supposed to exist for the benefit of the appliances that they own and not the other way around? Are refrigerators sitting around attacking political opponents as bots, or hacking posts?  Or who knows what they might be up to. With the psychos in Silicon Valley and the government, little would surprise me. They speak about having a cyber version of relatives created with their DNA. This is illogical, because people are not only who they are as a result of their DNA, but as a result of their experiences and environments as well. A computer will not be capable of being able to determine how DNA will react to a situation because the computer would be programming that reaction and that DNA would not be acting freely and on its own volition. The shit that they come up with is grotesque. I would not do this to my deceased relatives, because I honor them, who they were, and respect their privacy, and could not imagine doing something so sick to their memory and reduce their lives to some grotesque, Orwellian, dystopian, phantasmagoria, of a creeped out, freaked out Silicon Valley dweeb. This shows that they are truly sub human, since they do not even understand what it means to be human, and think that people can be replaced by computer images by those that loved them. They obviously are also incapable of love, in their sub human existences, because that is certainly is not love for a person! 

      Andrea Iravani

    6. Anonymous says:

      Next time you buy spagetti sauce at the store, look carefully at the sauce in jars. I buy the kind of sauce that comes in actual Mason jars, I forget the brand, but its pretty good and you get a canning jar out of the deal also. Soak off the label, and use a little bit of cooking oil smeared over any sticky label residue overnite and let to sit, comes off in the morning. Then you have a nice canning jar.

    7. Helen says:

      Next time you buy spagetti sauce at the store, look for the kind that comes in an actual Mason jar. I forget the brand but its pretty good, and you then get a canning jar out of the deal also. Soak off the label in water and if there is any sticky label residue left, rub some cooking oil on it and let sit overnite, it will come off in the morning.

      • Darth Skippy says:

        You could look for any jar with a slightly dome-shaped lid.

        All you would have to do is see these ridges, in a compressed position, to verify that a vacuum is still being maintained, inside of the jar.

        Americans were terrorized with a botulinum ad campaign, but foreigners recycle jars, all the time, in video tutorials.

    8. Hopenjoy says:

      Check up on widows or widowers, or older folks in general, who may have canning jars down in the basement from “back when” they use to can. I’ve had good luck also putting up signs at places where older folks might be, “Wanted: Canning Jars”. I have been able to gather up quite a few over the years, and happily gave away six dozen quart jars to folks in need this fall.

      A few years ago I stocked up on reusable Tattler lids just in case, and this summer had to start using them since couldn’t find metal lids locally. There is a slight learning curve to using the Tattlers, but once you’ve got it figured out, they are easy to use. Lifetime guarantee, the company has been around since the early 70s. An investment to start with, but worth it in the long run.

    9. S.Lynn says:

      I know some hate facebook but the site, Rebel Canners, has tips and hints on what other jars you can use from your store purchases. I remember Clasico spaghetti sauce was a jar you can reuse. They also talk about dry canning (not using liquid in the contents). Dry canned potatoes are spectacular. Just my 2 cents.

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