What is the environmentally friendly way to freeze your food? Can you freeze glass mason jars? If you want the plastics in your freezer gone, read on to find out how. As the campaign for a plastic-free world intensifies, finding alternatives to those plastic storage containers in your fridge can be a great place to start.
Mason jars fit as a great food and liquids storage alternative. But are they freezer-friendly? Can you freeze glass mason jars?
Well, if you’re wondering whether replacing your plastic storage containers with reusable glass containers is a great idea, then the answer is yes!
Mason glass jars are handy containers that you can safely use to freeze food or liquids in your kitchen.
And, since they are durable, reusable, and toxics-free, you can use them for a long time, as you protect yourself and the environment.
However, not all glass mason jars are ideal for the freezer. And you also need to know how to use them. There are several precautions that you must take with these glass containers.
Best Ways to Freeze Mason Jars
Storing your veggies, potatoes, fruits, or even fresh juice in glass mason jars is an excellent way to preserve their freshness while caring for the environment.
According to Harvard Health, plastic containers or bags can result in several health issues like metabolic disorders, low fertility, etc. Therefore, opting for a safer way of storing your food not only takes care of the environment but also your health.
However, if you don’t do it right, you might get disappointed as you find cracked or broken glass jars whenever you try to freeze your food.
So, how can you do it right?
1. Get the Right Jars
Finding the right tools for the job is the first step to ensuring that you freeze your food or produce efficiently. Remember, not all glass containers are made for this task.
Generally, while glass jars are your best alternative to eliminating the use of plastic containers, and living sustainably, you have to use the right ones.
Don’t go repurposing any glass jar for the freezing purpose, as most aren’t ideal.
For instance, the ordinary glass jars used to package things like pickles, jam, or olives aren’t the best choice. This is because they are made of a much thinner glass that will most likely break on freezing.
Therefore, when you want to freeze mason jars, it’s recommended that you use traditional brands, including:
- Golden Harvest
- Quattro Stagioni, etc.
These ones are much thicker and can withstand freezing temperatures.
2. Cool Whatever you Want to Store First
Before you put any content in those glass jars for freezing, ensure you cool it first. This is an effective way to avoid ending up with broken jars when freezing your food.
Generally, warm food or liquid will freeze more rapidly, causing the jar to crack or completely shatter. To avoid all this, simply ensure that the contents you put in your freezing mason jars have been cooled first.
3. Avoid Narrow-Mouthed Jars with Shoulders
Narrow or regular-mouthed mason jars are just not the best jars for freezing. Use wide-mouthed ones as they offer more space for expansion, which prevents unnecessary breaks. This is especially crucial when storing liquids like broth, soup, or even fresh juice from your juicer.
Also, instead of using glass jars with shoulders, it’s best that you use straight-sided ones. They are safer for freezing than their shouldered counterparts.
4. Freeze without Fastening the Lid First
Don’t be in a hurry to tighten the lids on your mason jar. First, freeze your jars’ content without the lid and tighten it later after the content is frozen. This might sound simple, but it’s something that can spoil your intended freezing process.
Additionally, ensure that your containers are upright during freezing. You can also place the jars on a saucer first to cater for any spillage.
5. Avoid Filling your Mason Jars to the Brim
If you are new to freezing food with mason jars, this is something you should undoubtedly note – food will expand on freezing. The expansion causes pressure build-up, which might lead to a broken glass jar. This means that when filling your container, you should leave enough space for the expansion to avoid breaking the jars.
With wide-mouthed mason jars, you will notice a freeze-fill line marked on the side to help you only put the right amount of content for freezing.
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6. Leave Some Space between the Jars
While many people would want to maximize space, it’s advisable that the jars don’t touch each other or even other items on the freezer. Leave enough room between the jars, as well as between other frozen objects.
This is because varying temperatures might cause issues with your mason glass jars, like breakages. You can consider wrapping them with some fabric to avoid direct contact with other objects or even place them in a box containing dividers.
This ensures that you freeze what you desire effectively without worrying about shattering those glass jars.
7. Allow the Frozen Jars Thaw before Heating
When you want to use your frozen food or liquids, it’s recommended that you remove them from the freezer and let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator before heating them. Ensure that you don’t take your frozen jar from the freezer and put it in the microwave directly for warming.
This might be quite dangerous as the frozen jar might crack or even explode, causing serious damages. If you want to avoid the broken glass menace, learn how to freeze glass jars correctly, as well as the right thawing process.
8. Freeze Individually
Before putting your food on the mason jars, spread them on a cookie sheet first and freeze them.
Ensure that you don’t freeze different foods in the same glass jar. This is because different foods can stay frozen for different periods, as we shall see later.
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Best Types of Food to Freeze in Mason Jars
Generally, almost every type of food that freezes well can be frozen using mason jars. However, you should follow all the steps mentioned above if you want to do it successfully.
Besides the normal types of food, you can also freeze liquids, including juices and soups, and fruits such as berries, grapes, bananas, etc. All you need is to ensure that you don’t fill the jars completely to allow room for expanding.
One way to ensure that your fruits don’t stick together when frozen is first to freeze them on a baking sheet, then put them on the jars.
Mason jars are also ideal for freezing other leftovers, including soups, fruit purees, stews, or even baby food. Also, un-iced cakes and deserts (sponge type) can be frozen in these glass jars.
When freezing vegetables, blanching is recommended before putting the jars in the freezer. For food types such as pizza, pies, lasagna, etc., you should part cook them to ensure they don’t overcook when reheating them.
Things like biscuits, bread, butter, pastry dough, pre-shelled nuts also will freeze well in mason jars. But when freezing cheese, a grated one is better as a solid block requires more time when it comes to defrosting.
One tip you should always have in mind is to ensure that you portion the foods before freezing them. Trying to portion frozen food can become quite a challenge as they are tightly stuck together.
This also helps to avoid the tendency of refreezing items once you defrost them.
Expert Freezing Tips for Beginners
The truth is, no one is born an expert, right?
So, if it’s your first time using mason jars to freeze your food and other contents in mason jars, these tips will be quite useful.
- Freeze the food content first before putting them into the freezing jars: freeze them on a baking sheet first to ensure that they don’t clump together inside the glass jars. This should be done for a minimum of four hours.
- Label your mason jars: Since frozen food usually looks the same, labeling the jars will help you identify the type of frozen food without having to open each jar. You can use freezer tape for this or write on the jar’s lid with a permanent marker.
- Have a funnel: It’s recommended that you use a funnel to avoid spillages when putting your content into the jars. This makes the process a whole lot easier.
- Always freeze your food at 0°F (-18°C) or lower: This will help retain vitamin content, flavor color, and texture in your frozen food. Freezing food at such temperatures also ensures it’s safe to eat and easy to thaw.
- Avoid Using Metal Lids: This one goes without saying, the freezer is usually wet. And, metals will start to rust when they come into contact with water or the icy wetness in the freezer. Therefore, before you start freezing your food with mason jars, ensure that you are using lids that won’t end up spoiling your food with rust.
Instead of metal mason jar lids, you can use stainless steel lids or glass lids. Plastic lids would also work here, but since we are trying to reduce our carbon footprint, it’s better to do away with plastic completely.
Examples of stainless mason jar lids you can use include:
1. EcoPeaceful 316 Surgical Stainless Steel Lids
These stainless steel lids are an excellent option if you are using regular-mouth mason jars. They come in a pack of 24 lids and have silicone gaskets that ensure zero leakages.
These lids are not only rust-proof; they are also moisture tolerant and safe to use in food storage. In addition, they are freezer, microwave, oven, and dishwasher safe. With a temperature range of between -40F to 425F, you can safely use them to freeze your food or liquids.
2. Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Mason Jar Lids by County Line Kitchen
These are among the best stainless steel lids for wide-mouth mason jars. And, whether you are using Ball or Kerr mason jars, these lids are a perfect fit. However, ensure that you confirm the size before making the purchase.
The lids are secure and reliable, having anti-stick properties that also enable easy opening. The package also includes eight silicone bands that ensure tight fastening and zero leakages.
County Line Kitchen stainless steel lids are made from eco-friendly BPA-free material, making it easy for you to reduce your carbon footprint.
A pack contains eight stainless steel lids. You should, however, note that these lids are not ideal for canning as they lack the vacuum seal necessary for the process.
3. EcoPeaceful 316 Surgical Stainless Steel Lids 3 3/8″ Wide
EcoPeaceful also manufactures stainless steel lids for wide-mouth mason jars. These 3 3/8″ wide mouth lids come in a pack of 24 pieces, with a silicone seal for each lid.
Like their regular mouth counterparts, these lids are moisture tolerant, rust-proof, and are strong enough to ensure the best storage for your food. They are also environmentally friendly as they don’t contain any PVC/vinyl and are BPA-free.
4. CHBJDAN Stainless Steel Mason Jar Lids
These are excellent reusable mason jar lids for wide-mouth jars. They are leakproof, rust-resistant, and friendly to the environment. Each set comes with 12 stainless steel caps plus 12 silicone seals to ensure airtight storage.
If you want to freeze anything with mason jars, these are excellent storage caps that can withstand both refrigerator and freezer conditions. Therefore, if you want to freeze your food or other stuff in an eco-friendly manner, CHBJDAN mason jar lids are undoubtedly something you should consider.
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Foods not Ideal for Freezing in Mason Jars
So, are there any food types you can’t freeze in a mason jar? Certainly yes!
While most types of food will freeze in mason jars, these ones aren’t ideal. In fact, you should not freeze them in any container.
- Cooked eggs
- Fresh tomato
- Fully cooked rice
- Leafy vegetables
- Low-fat dairy products
- Sour cream, etc.
Putting Mason Jars in Your Freezer Safely
Having followed all the necessary requirements in portioning and putting your food into mason jars, how now do you put these jars in the freezer? Which is the safest way to do it?
Well, two things determine how safe your jars are in the freezer; temperature control and liquid expansion.
To safely put mason jars into the freezer, you must account for liquid expansion. Generally, liquids and foods will expand upon freezing. Therefore, ensure that you have left room for that.
As mentioned earlier, do not fill your jar to the Brim – whether with liquids or food. You should leave at least one inch of the container unfilled. This way, even when the contents on the jar expand, they won’t break the jar.
Temperature control is another factor that you should consider. Generally, glass jars break with rapid temperature changes. Therefore, avoid putting hot content into the container and taking it straight to the freezer.
If you do this, you can almost be certain that the glass jar will crack. Leave the foods and liquids to cool first before freezing them in mason jars.
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Why your Mason Jars Might Shatter when Frozen
Falling is the most obvious reason why your mason jars might break or shatter. However, there are two reasons that may lead to glass jars’ breakage in your freezer.
The first one is placing a hot jar in your freezer. As we have already seen, rapid changes in temperatures can easily cause the jars to crack or shatter.
This is because when the hot glass is put into the freezer, it experiences rapid cooling due to the very low temperatures, subsequently causing internal stress on the glass.
Therefore, always ensure that you don’t put jars with hot content in the freezer. Cooling the content for 15 to 20 minutes will help a lot.
Secondly, overfilling is another major culprit for mason glass jars’ shattering. When the inside content expands without enough room, they insert pressure on the container, which may lead to cracking or breaking. This is because the expanding content compresses the air inside the jar, exerting too much pressure on the jar.
How to Defrost Foods in Mason Jars?
Can you freeze glass mason jars? I’m sure you now have the answer to this.
Now, how do you defrost the frozen content in mason jars?
When you want to use the frozen food, produce, or liquids in your mason jars, defrosting is necessary.
The best way to do it is to take the sealed jars from the freezer and leave them overnight in your refrigerator. This allows them to thaw, and you can easily use the content come the following morning.
Better still, you can take the sealed jars and put them in lukewarm water if you want to use them immediately. But, never put the frozen container in boiled or too hot water as it might crack due to temperature changes.
One thing you should avoid is refreezing things after defrosting. This is especially important for things like raw meat or fish. Portioning your food before freezing it will help you avoid refreezing stuff.
How Long can Food in Mason Jars Stay Frozen?
Can you freeze food in mason jars? Yes! But for how long?
The general idea of freezing the food is to make them stay viable for consumption for a long time. And, since mason jars have airtight lids, this is quite possible.
However, different food products will have different expiry dates, even under frozen conditions. Therefore, don’t think you can freeze anything forever. You should have an idea of how long each type of food can stay viable in the freezer.
For instance, you shouldn’t freeze products like fish and dairy products for too long. It’s recommended that you consume them after a month or so, max.
Here are some suggestions on how long you should freeze different types of food.
- Cheese (cream cheese, cottage cheese feta, goat, Neufchâtel, Parmesan, fresh mozzarella, processed cheese (opened) – Not recommended for freezing
- All other types of cheese – 6 months
- Margarine (not diet) – 12 months
- Butter – between 6 and 9 months
- Yogurt – 1 to 2 months
- Milk – 3 months
- Bananas and avocados – 3 months
- Most other fruits – 10 to 12 months except citrus fruit and fresh juices
- Artichokes, eggplant – 6 to 8 months
- Bamboo shoots, cabbage, cucumbers, celery – not recommended
- Tomatoes – 2 months (if sliced or overripe)
- Asparagus, rutabagas, and turnips – between 8 and 10 months
- Lean fish (haddock, flounder, sole) – 6 months
- Fatty fish (bluefish, perch, salmon) – between 2 and 3 months
- Clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp – between 3 and 6 months
- Cooked – between 2 and 6 months
- Bacon, sausage – between 1 and 2 months
- Lunch meats, ham, and hot dogs – maximum 2 months
- Uncooked – maximum 4 months
- Wild game (uncooked) – up to 12 months
- Uncooked – 12 months
- Cooked – 4 months
- Giblets – up to 4 months
- Cakes – up to 6 months
- Cookie dough – 2 months
- Baked fruit pie – up to 4 months
- Cookies – 3 months
- Yeast bread – up to 6 months
Refreezing your food after thawing is possible, although not always recommended. You can refreeze the thawed food without cooking it, and it’s safe.
Secondly, you can also refreeze cooked food, previously frozen, safely without much harm. If the thawed food was initially cooked, you could also refreeze it after getting the required portion.
But why is refreezing not so much recommended? Why do experts advise you to portion foods before freezing to avoid refreezing?
Well, refreezing food is bad for these reasons:
- Increased damage – when you refreeze your food, you expose it again to the harsh conditions, meaning that any cell that was not damaged in the first freezing process will get raptured this time.
- Large pockets of liquids – freezing your food creates pockets of liquid within its cells. If you thaw and refreeze, the pockets will get even larger leading to more damage to the food.
- Spoilage due to microorganisms – when you thaw the food, you give microorganisms a chance to act on the food. This way, you increase the risk of spoilage before refreezing.
For these reasons, it’s always wise to freeze portioned foods according to how you want to use them. This way, when a portion is defrosted, you use all of it without the need to refreeze.