Friday, February 27

The Shattering of the Ball Jars

Well, eight weeks into GAPS and I still don't have spare time to do anything else!  I should have known better.  I did, however, purchase a starter online to try making sour cream (creme fraiche) over the weekend.  I'm going to try introducing dairy.  I have been praying for enough healing to have taken place that I'll be able to tolerate it.  We'll see what happens.

I love collecting old jars.  I love the colors, I love the old style of writing, I love the history behind them, and it reminds me of just how much work women did to preserve food and provide for their families.  While these jars at one time functioned as a mundane, utilitarian vessel for food, now they are being used in all sorts of creative situations.  Personally, I usually use my antique canning jars to hold flowers, both fresh and dried.  A pretty ribbon around the top makes them look so cute!  I do, however, purchase new jars for kitchen and food storage, which leads me to the topic of this post.

A while back, I mentioned that I kept finding shattered Ball jars in my upright freezer when I was getting stock out.  I ended up with somewhere around a dozen shattered jars before I just gave up and ordered plastic deli containers specifically made for freezing.  I didn't want to use plastic, but I was left with no other option.  I was so confused about why my jars were breaking--I'd seen so many blogs from others who talked about freezing their broth in glass jars--that I took to scouring the internet for explanations and others who had experienced the same thing.  And that's exactly what I found.

Turns out, many others had made the same mistakes as me.  Someone, in one blog's comments, politely pointed out that the regular mouth jars seem to be most prone to breaking, but that NONE of the quart Ball jars are freezer safe.  Sure enough, I went into the pantry and pulled down an old Ball jar box that I had kept, and it did state that the quart jars (all types) are not freezer safe.

Hmm.

Why on earth not??  You mean in all of our technology, we cannot engineer a freezer-safe glass canning jar?  On GAPS, broths are too valuable to lose to broken jars, and I just can't chance drinking broth and finding a shard of glass when I try to swallow.  Glass canning jars can withstand extremely high temperatures when canning, but they apparently become too brittle when frozen.  Turns out, the shape of the jar might have everything to do with it.

Anyone who knows about jars (which is probably a group of about ten people on Earth and includes me) will understand that the shoulders of the jars are likely the culprit.  Shoulders of jars are the curved or sloped shape of the top of the jar, at the spot where the jar opening narrows to accommodate the size of the lid. 

Many folks are of the opinion that the liquid, which expands when it freezes, pushes against the curves of the top of the jar, creating too much pressure and not enough expansion room, thereby causing the liquid to push against the weakest part of the jars--the shoulders.  There might be less chance of that happening with wide-mouth jars due to a less-pronounced shoulder, but I can say from experience that both the regular-mouth and wide-mouth jars will shatter.  The only jars that are freezer-safe, according to the Ball jar box, are the jars with straight sides, like the jelly jars and half pint wide mouth jars.
No shoulders on this jar!
Don't they know how much room all of those wide-mouth half pint jars would take up in my freezer??
You guys.  I made this picture.  It took for-e-ver.  And it's not even good, because I'm novice at best with Photoshop and had to copy and paste every...single...little...jar into the rows.  And the rows are all crooked, because the program froze on me halfway through the first attempt and I lost the file, so I had to start alllll over again.  And then it was past my bedtime and I didn't care if the rows were straight.  But it's a great illustration of how many jars it would take to fill up my freezer shelf with half-pints of broth, if I actually knew how many jars it would really take. 
Lesson learned: always be sure to check the box of glass jars for confirmation of being freezer safe!  Oh well.  Hopefully this will help you to not make the same mistake I made.  Like I said, I finally settled on freezer-specific quart containers for my broth, and they are doing a great job so far.  The sad part is thinking about how many dozen Ball jars I purchased in anticipation of starting GAPS.  Frowny face.  On the upside, I love using Ball jars for all sorts of other storage, so I'm sure I'll find a use for at least some of them.  Plus, I guess I'm ready to try canning when I get a gas stove! 

13 comments:

  1. Good information even though I don't have enough freezer space to worry about either plastic or jars. - Margy

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    1. If you do have space in the future, hopefully this will help!

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  2. Great Information. I never even thought of putting my canning jars in the freezer. Now I know not to, that's for sure. Thanks so much for sharing with last weeks Adorned From Above Link Party.
    Have a great week.
    Debi

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    1. Glad to help! Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I had the same problem with the half gallon jars and it killed me to see those broken. I also gave up and wondered why people suggested freezing jars? We are pretty much all plastic in the freezer now except for the pyrex casserole dishes that say freezer safe which I store my make ahead meals in. Thanks for sharing this information! :) Found you via the Home Acre Hop. We also have a link up on Mondays if you are interested. Have a wonderful week!

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    1. Half-gallon jars are expensive to lose! Hopefully it'll help others. Thanks for inviting me to your blog hop--I'll check it out!

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    2. YES, it killed me as they are more expensive! Glad to see you at our link up last week! Hope you have something to share this Monday :)

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  4. We never had a problem with jars breaking until we bought a new freezer (which we froze raw milk) and suddenly we had broken jars, although we didn't use the wide mouth. The new freezer was frost free and I am sure got much colder since our other one was 20 years old.
    We couldn't keep affording to lose milk so I went on the web and found freezer safe jars of all sizes from a company called U-Line. I now use them for my homemade broth, raw milk and anything I want to put in jaws instead of plastic. They work great and no more broken glass and lost food. I really was afraid to try the wide mouth because I keep reading different opinions on if they worked or not. Twitted and pinned your article. Visiting from the Home Acre Blog Hop. Congratulations on being featured.

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    1. That's an interesting idea...new freezers vs. old freezers. Never thought of that making a difference! I would feel awful about losing raw milk. I'm familiar with U-Line, but never thought of looking for containers there. I purchased Reditainers from Amazon based on good reviews. So glad I could help!

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  5. Wow, this is so timely for me...I too have been trying to limit my exposure to plastic especially in foods. I had the same problem with glass and figured I had to be doing something wrong. Thanks for making me feel so much better. Its not all me! I bought some inexpensive metal containers, freeze my broth in those and then take them out (like giant ice cubes) and wrap in freezer paper. I know it too has some plastic in it, but I wrap shiny side out. then I put those in plastic. I want to experiment with the "beeswax" wrappers also. Again, thanks for making me feel so not like a clod!!

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    1. Glad to help! For a while, my hubby and I both thought it was something we were doing wrong too. The beeswax wrappers are an interesting idea, too. Hope they work!

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  6. I love the picture you made of the jars! Pretty amazing. But, on a serious note, it's good info to know that the jars are not freezer safe. Have a great week.

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  7. Thank you! Have a good week too!

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