It’s that time of the year when our freezers are probably seeing a lot of action as sauces, soups, stock, and all kinds of seasonal bounties start making their way from the garden to the kitchen to—eventually—this winter’s dinner table.
A lack of space in my own freezer means I’ve skipped my old standby of freezing whole cherry tomatoes in favor of tomato purees that are ready to spice up for homemade marinara sauce, soup, and ketchup.
(Here’s my favorite recipe for homemade tomato sauce—no blanching, peeling, or seeding required!)
And that brings up a question I’m often asked: What’s the most ideal way to store these liquids in the freezer?
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For years I used the flat-pack baggie method: Fill a few zip-top freezer bags with liquid, squeeze all the excess air out, then lay them flat and stack them in the freezer.
(Some marketing geniuses felt our pain of freezer bags getting all misshapen and toppling over, and created this contraption for stacking them perfectly flat, as well as this product which lets you freeze bags upright, making use of vertical storage.)
While that tested-and-true method is pretty handy in the kitchen, these days I find myself reaching for my mason jars more and more.
They’re easy to fill, easy to thaw, free of leaks, and useful for storing leftover liquids in the fridge (without the need to decant into a separate container).
If you’re trying to avoid excessive use of plastic in the home, glass mason jars are a great reusable option that you likely already have around. You can freeze liquids in mason jars and store them for several months in the freezer.
But! If you aren’t careful, the glass may crack or shatter as the liquids solidify.
So here’s a quick tip for making sure that doesn’t happen…
On Ball- and Kerr-branded jars (made by the same company, for which I was a Newell Brands ambassador), the freeze-fill line is a thin line found just below the threads, about an inch from the rim.
Some (though not all) of their jars even have “For Freezing—Fill Here” embossed on the line.
The purpose of the freeze-fill line is to indicate the maximum amount of liquid you can safely store in your jar without risking a cracked jar when the contents freeze and expand.
Jars that are best suited for freezing liquids include:
- Regular-mouth jelly jar (4 ounces)
- Regular-mouth jelly jar (8 ounces)
- Regular-mouth jelly jar (12 ounces)
- Regular-mouth half-pint (8 ounces)
- Wide-mouth pint (16 ounces)
- Wide-mouth pint-and-a-half (24 ounces)
Happen to notice a common feature among these jars? They all have straight sides.
Jars that have shoulders, such as regular- and wide-mouth quarts, are not suitable for freezing liquids unless you fill them to no more than 1 inch BELOW the shoulders.
This isn’t the most efficient use of space, since only 2 1/2 to 3 cups of liquid will fit—but in a pinch, it’ll work.
I’ve successfully frozen liquids in quart jars by making sure I leave plenty of headspace (about 3 inches) for the liquids to expand upward.
If you aren’t comfortable with this, but like the convenience of jars and need to store more than jelly jars allow, you can also try plastic freezer jars. (These come in different sizes, depending on how much liquid you need to store.)
Here are a few things to keep in mind to reduce the risk of leaks and breakage with glass mason jars:
- Use one-piece plastic lids when freezing your jars (not the metal rings and lids that came with them). Not only does this help you open jars more easily, but you can wash them multiple times without worrying about rusting. (I like these ones because they’re leakproof.)
- Glass can crack under thermal shock. Always cool liquids to room temperature before filling your jars. Alternatively, run your jars in the dishwasher with a heated drying cycle right before filling them with hot liquids.
- Place your jars inside a cardboard box or other shatter-proof container before putting them in the freezer. This keeps other items from knocking into them, especially if you use a chest freezer. A good sturdy box also allows you to stack other items on top to maximize storage. (These cardboard boxes with divided compartments are perfectly sized for pint and quart jars.)
- Use silicone sleeves to protect the glass. To reduce the chances of other items in the freezer knocking against your jars (and possibly causing hairline cracks), use silicone sleeves like these ones for 24-ounce jars (or these ones for 32-ounce jars).
- Don’t expose your frozen jars to sudden heat. Defrost them in the fridge, or out on the counter at room temperature.
What are some of your favorite foods to stash in the freezer?
This post updated from an article that originally appeared on July 24, 2017.
View the Web Story on how to freeze liquids in mason jars.