Redoing your pantry: just what jars to buy!?
What are the best jars for dry storage?
We regularly get asked for our recommendations on jars for storage, both short term and long term.
There really is no correct answer to this question and it depends on a range of variables. Hopefully the following discussion of the different types of jars we sell might assist in your final jar selection. Some of the factors might include whether the jars are multi purpose, the range of jar sizes available if you want to have the same look for all storage jars or the availability of alternative closure types.
Before that though, a quick refresher on the different types of lids or closures that our jars use:
One piece lids: these come in 2 styles.
- The twist top or lug lid is the type that is typically used on jars you purchase from the supermarket. They tend to be quite shallow and twist onto the jar thread via a quarter turn. Whilst it is good practice to recycle your jars and lids, we do not recommend using twist top style jars for long term storage or food preserving (see our blog article for a more in depth discussion).
- The screw top or continuous thread lid screws onto the jar thread giving a more secure closure. Metal screwtop lids usually incorporate a seal on the inside of the lid which helps keep the jar contents airtight. Plastic screwtop lids typically do not have inbuilt seals and so are better suited for short term storage (they are particularly popular for putting on opened preserving jars for storage in the fridge). The exception to this are the Le Parfait orange storage lids which have a much deeper thread and remain airtight for longer. Some one piece lids come with a pop top which is useful for telling if the jars have a vacuum after heat processing, however the pop top needs to operate in a vacuum so will not work for dry storage. That’s not to say that pop top lids can’t be used for dry storage as the lids still have the same internal seal as the non pop top versions, however there is no functional purpose for the pop top in this type of usage.
Typically the metal one piece lids are lined with a food safe BPA free lining, generally plastisol which is a mixture of PVC and other polymer particles.
Two piece lids: these are typically used in specialist preserving jars such as Ball Mason jars and Le Parfait Familia Wiss jars. Generally they consist of a flat disc with a seal and then either a band or a full lid to hold the disc in place during heat processing. These can be used for dry storage but some people find them a little fiddly to use although with practice you can easily remove both lid parts from the jar in one movement just the same as you would unscrewing a standard one piece lid. 2 piece lids are widely favoured for heat processing however for dry storage purposes there is little difference in performance between one piece lids and 2 piece lids. Obviously if jars come standard with a 2 piece lid system, you need to consider if this is a workable system for you or if you are prepared to pay extra to buy one piece lids to suit those jars if available.
Wire bail: these types of closures are also known as swing type or lightning type closures. They consist of a wire bail that holds the lid closed, normally with a rubber seal or sometimes a silicone seal. Quality of the wire bails varies widely and many of the cheap imported versions are notoriously difficult to open. These jar and bottle types are very popular for dry storage and typically not recommended for heat processing.
Clips: Jars with clips to hold the lid in place are a variation on the 2 piece lid and are designed for preserving. The idea is that once a vacuum has formed the lid will stay in place without the clips holding it. Clips are generally cumbersome for dry storage purposes unless you are wanting to store something that you don’t access very often.
So what is the suitability of different brands of jars for dry storage?
Ball jars: Ball jars are made in the USA and their primary purpose is for canning (heat sealing food in the jar for long term storage). All Ball jars except for their large commemorative storage jar come standard in their packaging with 2 piece tin lids. The jars are available in 2 lid sizes, regular mouth and wide mouth. One piece storage lids in metal or plastic can be purchased separately and there is also a large range of other lid types designed to fit mason jars including spice lids, drink lids, honey dippers and more. Being US made all sizing is imperial which is generally not that critical when using the jars for dry storage. The jars range in size from 4oz (about 120ml) to half gallon (about 2 litres) with the larger gallon commemorative jar being the only really large jar in the range with a push on metal lid.
- Jars can be used for both dry storage and heat treatment
- A range of alternative lids to replace the 2 piece lid can be purchased separately
- Only 2 different lid sizes with lids interchangeable between different jars with the same mouth size
- 2 piece lid can be awkward and buying alternatives adds to the jar cost
- Limited range in jars over 1 litre in size
- Imperial measurements
Bormioli Rocco jars: Bormioli Rocco jars are made in Italy and come in 2 diffferent types.
- Quattro Stagioni jars are both preserving and storage jars and come standard with a one piece lid. These are interchangeable with Ball regular mouth and wide mouth lids so this means they will also fit other lid types designed to fit Ball jars. When used for heat processing it is recommended that the lid not be reused but for dry storage purposes the lids can be used indefinitely. Jars are available in sizes from 150ml through to 5 litres and there is also a 1 litre sauce / liquid bottle with similar branding.
- Jars can be used for both dry storage and heat treatment
- Lids are interchangeable with Ball mason lids and other functional lids designed for mason jars
- Standard metric sizing in a variety of sizes
- Limited range of jars in larger sizes
- Fido jars are for dry storage only. They feature a non stainless wire bail and a sturdy rubber seal. Seals last for a long time but should be changed before they become dry and brittle or start to crack. The wire bails on Fido jars provide a good seal without being difficult to open and close. The jars are available in sizes from 125ml through to 5 litres. Note that whilst the smaller and larger jars have round bodies, the 500ml – 3 litre sizes are more square shaped in the body.
- Good range of sizes including in larger sizes
- Good quality rubber seal and wire bail
- Inconsistent shapes across the size range
- Cannot be used for heat treatment
Le Parfait: Le Parfait jars are made in France and come in 2 different styles
- Super and Super Terrine jars. These feature a strong stainless steel wire bail and a thick orange seal. The super jars have a rounded bulb shape whilst the terrine jars have straight sides, which makes them suitable for freezer storage with adequate head space. These jars are able to be heat treated but be warned, they form an incredibly strong seal and it is very difficult to open them again! The super jars are available in 7 sizes from 250ml – 3 litres. The terrine jars are available in 5 sizes from 275ml – 1 litre.
- Best range of sizes and styles
- Terrine jars are suitable for freezing
- Stainless steel wire bail
- Largest size is only 3 litres
- There are 3 different seal sizes so you need to know which size you have when reordering
- Familia Wiss jars: These jars are the French equivalent of mason jars. Unlike US made Ball jars though, the 2 piece lid consists of a flat disc and a full size screw lid which helps hold the disc in place throughout heat treatment. Whilst designed for heat treatment these jars can also be used for dry storage as the flat disc incorporates a leakproof seal. The larger jars in 1, 2 and 3 litre sizes can be purchased with a plastic orange lid which is easier to use for storage purposes. The jars are available in 9 different sizes from 200ml – 3 litres, making these jars the largest range in one style that we stock.
- Heavy duty jars suitable for heat processing
- Straight sided versions are suitable for freezing
- Big size range
- There are 3 different lid sizes which are not compatible with other brands
- Plastic storage lids are not available separately
Weck / Rex jars: Weck jars are made in Germany for the German market, whilst Rex jars are made in the same factory but are designed for the Austrian market. The jars are identical in function and design with some differences in embossing only. When purchased in cases, they come with a glass lid, rubber seal and 2 stainless clips. This makes most of the shapes suitable for heat processing and pressure canning. The tapered jars and cylinder jars have straight sides so this also makes them suitable for freezing. The tall 1.5l tapered jar is the perfect size for storing pasta! The clip system can be a bit time consuming for dry storage purposes and there is the risk of chipping the glass lids with constant use. There are however plastic snap on caps which are good for short to medium term storage or wooden lids which have an airtight seal and which just push onto the jars easily. The jars are available in 6 different shapes and a range of sizes. The tapered jars start in tiny sizes as small as 35ml (ideal for spices) and go up to a maximum of 1.75l in the tulip size. There are 5 different lid sizes so you need to be sure to buy the right size lids for your jars and seals to match. The wooden lids are currently only available in small, medium and large.
- Wide range of sizes and shapes
- Jars are suitable for heat processing and some shapes are suitable for freezing
- Wooden lids and plastic storage lids are available for most jars
- Clips can be tricky to get on and off with constant use and incorrect technique can chip the glass
- 5 lid sizes mean you need to take care when purchasing replacement parts
- Lids are not compatible with other jar brands
If your budget allows our pick for the best all around jars are Le Parfait jars however as this article has hopefully demonstrated all the brands discussed can successfully be used for your next pantry reorganisation. It’s mostly a matter of what your budget is, what size jars you want to use and the types of lids you like.
We are always happy to offer further advice on jar selection if required. Don’t forget to check the links at the bottom of our website with more information about the jar sizes and uses.