This article was updated on 1st Oct 2015 I have found some reasonably priced preserving jars called frutta del prato (that's the name on the lid) which are not only fair quality but don’t look too bad either, therefore, as give-aways they make a great gift. I will tell more about these jars shortly after I have my gripe about Mason jars so please bear with me…
Something which has really annoyed me over the years when it comes to preserving food like jams, pickles, chutneys, etc, is the expense and sometimes lack of availability of preserving jars.
It seems like just because preserving your own food is cheap and easy along comes a trend and product to make it expensive to do.
Frutta del prato cheap preserving jar good value (image above)
If you Google preserving jars it's likely you'll find someone or some article singing the praises of Mason jars like it's the only jar you're allowed to use for storing your preserves. Trouble is, this holy trendy Mason jar is as expensive as sin!
So why are Mason jars so expensive? Is it because they are just such a well-made glass jar with its incredibly ingenious two piece lid or is it a con? I believe Mason jars are expensive because they are trendy not because they are good and people who buy them are ripping themselves off because there are other much cheaper jar solutions which work just as well.
So why are they trendy then? Probably due to some dominant players in the cooking and preserving industry hard selling Mason jars to their adoring fans like it’s the jar you just have to use. Then, down the promo chain these so called experts get quoted and written about how they only use Mason jars and before you know it you’re on the outer if you aren’t using them.
Mason jars are a pretty good product (I’m not saying otherwise) but at Spotlight prices – they’ve got to be kidding! We go through the trouble of growing our own produce, making our own preserves, and then all the cost savings is taken up by an expensive glass jar with a red checker lid. That’s just not cricket…
So I’ve been on a quest to find a better way of bottling my preserves which not only works but is also much cheaper. Yes, I do collect glass jars and reuse them until the lid is stuffed and that works ok but trying to collect glass jars and save the lids isn’t the most reliable way to ensure I have enough jars available on bottling day.
Therefore, I’ve been looking for glass jars that I can buy commercially which do the job but are also cheap to buy. Honestly, I didn’t have to look too far and I found a pile of cheap preserving jars (300 mil) at my local dollar shop in this case it was Sam’s Warehouse.
Now not everything a person buys from these outlets are top quality but I thought I should give these jars a try simply because the selling price was very reasonable! I could buy a pack of 12 x 300 mil preserving jars for $12.99 or $1.08 per jar – lids and all.
Great alternative preserving jar to save money (image above)
On the other hand, Mason jars at my local Spotlight store sell for $16.99 per set of 6 x 250 mil jars or $2.83 per jar. Just a set of 6 lids for Mason jars cost $7.99 or $1.33 per lid – per lid, no joke…
The price difference between the “no name” jars (50 mil larger) and a Mason jar couldn’t be more stark. This means a home-made preserve already costs nearly $3 before the jar gets even filled and when you think how much a standard preserve costs in the supermarket (about $3 – $4) suddenly home-made preserves are becoming an expensive exercise.
However, at just over a dollar a jar for the “no name – frutta del prato” brand, home-made preserves seem like a pretty good option especially as gifts. In my mind, the sums added up and I knew Mason jars were not for me.
But how do the much cheaper brand preserving jars perform against the acclaimed Mason jars? Well, I can say from the start both the no name jars and Manson jars I've seen are made in China (probably at the same factory) so there’s no manufacturing advantages in this case.
I’ve used both jars with hot and cold preserves and have found no significant difference in make quality or in sealing of the lids. In fact, I prefer the one piece lids on the cheaper jars over the two piece lids on the Mason jars because I find the two piece lids fiddly and annoying to use in a practical sense whereas with a one piece lid when you remove it there’s nothing else to remove – if you know what I mean.
One of the other funny things I have noticed at my local Spotlight store is they don’t sell the cheaper jars but they do sell replacement lids for the cheaper frutta del prato jars (image right) at… wait for it… $1.00 per lid which is cheaper than Mason jar lids but still expensive. Why would anyone buy lids at a dollar each when they could buy the full jar and lid for an extra 8 cents? Not me Freddy.
Nope, I do think Mason jars are one big con job and I’ll never buy another set – ever! From now on, my preserving jars will be el cheapo dollar shop purchases and if I want to make them look all cute for gifts there’s plenty of crafty ways to dress-up a plain jar – my wife’s great at it.
So if you are on the hunt for a better bargain on your preserving jars then checkout your local dollar shop and buy some of the no name cheaper varieties like the lid named frutta del prato rather than the overrated Mason jars, honestly, it won’t cost much and you’ve got nothing to lose by giving them a go.
If you’d like to chat more about preserving jars or just preserving food in general, then pop over to our forum at Self Sufficient Culture and in the preserving section is where we can discuss this subject in depth.
Edit: Even though I do stand by my article – I recommend you scroll down and read the comments about others opinions on these cheaper jars because there are obviously people out there with experience in preserving jars and they make a very good argument against the cheaper types so it's worth reading their view. May I say, thanks for the input and if you wish to share your experience or views please do so!
Mark Valencia – Editor SSM
Look, and see the Earth through her eyes…
I signed up specifically so I could follow your advice and “…scroll down and read the comments about others opinions on these cheaper jars…” Alas, I did not see any comments. A jar with lid is a very simple thing, so I am really curious to hear arguments against the less costly brands. Regarding those who say “I only use Mason jars,” I suspect 99% of them have never used any other brand, because they are not so easy to find. I can find Mason jars at 10+ stores within a mile or two of my house, but I must resort to a google search to find any other brands.
yeah, this is an older article and when I upgraded our website (earlier this year) many of the old comments did not transfer over, unfortunately. Sorry about that…
I still think you can get some good deals on cheaper jars as opposed to Mason or other expensive brands (have a surf online – I purchased 50 bottles for sauces at about 50c each bot so long ago and they are great) but I do understand why people buy and reuse the top shelf brands and this is what most of the old comments were about.
However, if you are giving away homemade jams or pickles etc for Xmas or whatever, those cheaper jars are still fun and easy and practical for this purpose. No one has any obligation to give you the jar back, for a start, and overall it’s simply cheaper.