How to Freeze Food in Jars

Freeze food in jars and you can see at-a-glance what you have on hand while reducing the amount of plastic you use.

Reader Contribution by Anne Marie Bonneau
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by Pixabay/CSU-extension

When I post pictures of my jar-filled freezer on social media, I get lots of questions about it, usually along the following lines:

  • Is freezing food in glass jars safe? (Yes)
  • Do you use special glass for the freezer? (No)
  • Don’t your glass containers break? (Only that one time…)

I have had little trouble freezing food in glass. I do however take a couple of precautions:

  • Always leave headspace when freezing liquids. I use wide-mouth jars with flush sides for freezing food (i.e., straight sides all the way up to the top). I have broken only one glass container in the freezer. It’s one of those things you do only once. I filled a narrow-neck milk bottle with liquid. Even though I had left head space, when the liquid froze, it expanded and snapped the narrow neck cleanly off the (very nice) bottle. Oops.
  • Don’t overstuff your freezer with jars stacked all over the place sloppily. When you open your freezer door, jars might fall out onto the floor and break.

What I Freeze

Beans. The freeze well with or without liquid. I love having cooked beans on hand in the freezer. I make dishes like chana masala, hummus, spicy black beans, refried beans and more. I dislike the texture and taste of canned beans, not to mention the BPA often present in the plastic lining of canned food. (Click here for directions on slow-cooker beans.)

Sourdough crackers. These freeze very well. They taste so delicious though, they never stay in the freezer long. (Click here for the sourdough cracker recipe.)

Cookies. I don’t make cookies very often because I have little will power around sweets. But when I do bake them, I’ll freeze some in a large wide-mouth jar.

Fruit. I don’t buy frozen fruit because it’s always packaged in plastic bags. Instead, I freeze seasonal fruit: berries, peach slices and grapes. I spread these out on a cookie sheet and put that in the freezer. Once the fruit has frozen, I transfer it to glass jars.

Fruit peels and cores. Save your apple peels and cores in the freezer until you have a pile and you can use them to make scrap vinegar. The microbes necessary for the fermentation survive the cold. (Click here for the scrap vinegar recipe.)

Vegetable peels and scraps. I save the ends of carrots, celery, onions, green beans–pretty much all the vegetables I prep, with the exception of bitter greens like chard–and store them in glass jars in the freezer. When I have accumulated a large pile of scraps, I simmer them in water to make broth. I then strain that and either use it immediately or freeze it. I like to use ice-cube trays to freeze broth but sometimes I’ll just freeze it in a jar–with headspace! (Click here for the vegetable broth recipe.)

Bones. We don’t eat much poultry or meat but when we do I always save the bones for broth. Once I have enough, I simmer water and the bones in my slow cooker for twenty-four hours. (Click here for the bone broth recipe.)

Soup. I love to make a vat of soup and freeze some of it in jars for meals later on. (Click here for the rescue soup recipe.)

Lemon zest. Yes, you can freeze this! I have a small glass jar of it in the freezer now.

Roasted tomatoes. Throughout the summer, I buy lots of dry-farmed early girl tomatoes at the farmer’s market. I halve or quarter these into bite-size pieces, roast them at about 225°F for an hour and a half or two and then freeze them in jars. They taste delicious. I use them in place of canned tomatoes. (Click here for the roasted tomatoes recipe.)

Tomato sauce. I have only one small jar of this in my freezer now. I can fit only so much in there… (Click here for the tomato sauce recipe.)

Leftover whey. Making ricotta cheese produces an alarming amount of whey. I freeze this in ice-cube trays and then transfer the frozen cubes to glass jars. A few cubes of whey add some nice tang to soup. Or thaw it and heat it up to use in place of warm water when making pizza dough. (Click here for the ricotta recipe.)

Other leftovers. Have some food you won’t get to before it spoils? Put it in the freezer for a few days or a few weeks and avoid wasting it.

I likely have forgotten to mention a few things that I freeze, but this gives you a good idea of what you can freeze without plastic–all sorts of good food!

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