Canning is the process of home preservation of a wide variety of food items for long term storage. It's particularly useful in rural areas where harvested fruits and vegetables can be canned in mason jars to increase the longevity of the crop or simply to transform the harvest into jams, jellies, preserves and pickled goods. For some people, canning is a necessary way of life. But for many others, it's an addictive hobby that has the added benefit of being cost effective. These people are typically canning for personal use. There is a science to canning that must be perfected while taking into account the commodity being preserved, the type of preservatives being used, and the container itself.
Mason jars are the preferred container for most individuals whether they be canning for hobby or business. In most cases, you'll want to buy mason jars in bulk but first you need to determine the type of mason jar you need for your canning procedure. You don't want to use jars created from thin glass or with lids lacking in quality because they won't be able to endure the rigors of the pressure canner (which will leave you with some ruined food and a big mess). Make sure you're only purchasing rugged mason jars with high quality lids.
If your mason jars are quality, they should be able to be reused. However, the sealing process will render most metal mason jar lids in such a way that they will not be reusable. There are specialty reusable lids you can buy but, just as you can buy mason jars in bulk, you can also get mason jar lids on their own through many wholesalers. You may think of reusing the rims from other jars you get from the store but most of these will not survive the canning procedure. It's better to simply have the right lid for the job from the get go.
There are several other factors you need to consider before committing to a large order of mason jars in bulk. Arguably the most important is what size jar you will need for the commodity you're preserving. Mason jars are available in a wide range of sizes so you'll need to give this careful consideration before finalizing any big purchases. You'll also need to consider whether you want wide mouth mason jars or jars with a standard opening. Finally, though it may seem trivial, you'll note that several styles of mason jar incorporate decorative flourishes in the glass. You'll need to determine if you want such motifs on the jars you select.
There are numerous reasons why you want to buy mason jars in bulk when canning. In most cases, you'll be working with a large surplus of vegetables, produce and other foods and you want to make sure you have enough mason jars to meet that demand. It's definitely a case where it's better to have too many than too few. While mason jars themselves are reusable, they can pick up chips and cracks through repeated use so you can't count on them to last forever. In an emergency, you can often run to your local hardware store to pick up mason jars during the canning season (summer/autumn) but you don't want to rely on this too much. That's because even during these seasons, you run the risk of depleted stock due to growing interest in canning as a hobby. During the off season, your chances of a mason jar shortage is even greater. Buying mason jars in bulk is often your best bet at avoiding disappointment. After all, canning is all about preparation.
Your first canning experience is bound to be as exciting as it is daunting so do your research to make sure you've got the science down. Having the right mason jars at the ready will also go a long way to ensuring your foray into the hobby of canning is a success. Remember to consider the quality, size, and type of closure on your mason jars and you should have no issues.