Freezing Glass Jars? 5 Quick Tips to Avoid Broken Jars￼
I’d been freezing glass jars for the longest time, but too often, I’d open the freezer to disappointment: yet another precious mason jar cracked and broken, even though I thought I did everything right.
But after researching why it kept happening, I discovered I wasn’t doing everything right. And when I started following five simple rules, I stopped finding broken jars.
Why Freeze in Glass Jars, Anyway?
Keeping your freezer filled with homemade broth, sauce, and soup is a fantastic way to keep your home stocked with healthy convenience food. But after stewing, brewing, and cooking all that nutritious food, you need a simple, non-toxic way to store it.
Here are the most common options:
- Plastic containers can work fine in a pinch, but plastic food storage can leach chemicals.
- Pressure canning broth or soup in glass jars is another option but requires more work and attention.
- Filling up a glass jar of your favorite Avocado Ranch Dip and popping it in the freezer, though? Now that’s a whole lot simpler. And we like simple around here!
But Here’s the Problem With Freezing Glass Jars
Unfortunately, it’s really, really easy to end up with broken jars if you aren’t careful.
So I did some legwork to research the best tips for freezing mason jars and other glass and consulted folks who’ve been freezing glass longer than I’ve been alive.
The next time you’ve got a batch of broth or a double recipe of soup to freeze, follow these simple steps and enjoy a freezer full of food in unbroken glass jars!
Disclosure: I’ve included affiliate links in this post for products that can help you freeze in glass jars more easily. Your cost through these links is never increased though I can earn a commission on purchases. Thanks!
5 Simple Tips for Freezing in Glass
1. Play It Cool
Make sure to cool your broth, soup, or sauce before ladling it into glass jars, then completely cool the jars in the fridge at least overnight before freezing. (If you can manage to cool them 24 hours first, even better!)
This does two things:
- It won’t shock the jars when you fill them with liquid (that means giving the jars such a huge temperature change that the glass shatters), and
- You won’t burn yourself by ladling hot liquid into jars and spilling on yourself. Not that such a thing could ever happen in my kitchen. (Bonus tip: This wide-mouth funnel is my new favorite kitchen tool for avoiding a mess!)
2. Leave (More) Room
This is an easy mistake to make and was my biggest mistake in the past.
I used to leave 1-2 inches of headspace in the jars when filling them up with broth, thinking there was plenty of room for the liquid to expand while freezing. But most of them would still break and crack. I was stumped.
Turns out that it isn’t the top of the jar you need to be mindful of when filling your jars. It’s the shoulders.
Any time you freeze in a glass jar that has shoulders, you have to make sure the broth stays below the shoulders while it freezes and expands. That means the broth should be 2-3 inches below the shoulders before you stick it in the freezer.
3. Rethink Your Glass Jars
Instead of using regular glass jars and worrying about the shoulders, you can use wide-mouth mason jars.
Bonus tip: Many brands of organic or natural peanut butter are sold in wide-mouth glass jars, which are perfect for freezing smaller amounts of broth! You can even get the labels and adhesive off the jars when repurposing them with this simple 2-ingredient cleaning paste.
These wide-mouth jars are the best for freezing broth, sauce, and soup. Since they lack the shoulders that most jars have, the jar isn’t put under pressure when the broth freezes and expands. I don’t have many of these, but I do reach for them first when I go to freeze broth.
One reader even told me that they stick warm broth right in the freezer in wide-mouth jars with nary a glass casualty.
4. Keep It Loose
When you tightly cap jars before freezing, they tend to break more often. If you just loosely place the lids on until the broth is totally frozen, the jars hold up better. (These BPA-free plastic lids are especially handy when storing food in jars, or they come in pretty colors here.)
Once the broth is frozen, you can tighten the lids if you remember. It’s not a big deal if you forget, though. I rarely think to do it, and my frozen food never gets freezer burn!
5. Avoid Touching
Jars that are touching when placed in the freezer seem to break more readily, as well. This problem has another simple solution: just leave a little space between the jars when placing in the freezer.
Bonus Tips for Freezing in Glass Jars
Many kind readers have contributed their wisdom about freezing glass jars in the 250+ comments below, so give them a scan if you want more ideas! Some of my favorites:
- Place your jars in a cardboard box (like the one mason jar sets are sold in) before putting them in the freezer. This allows you to easily keep some distance between them and can also be handy if you use a chest freezer. Or use a JarBox, a genius product!
- Slip your jars into clean socks before putting them in the freezer. This prevents them from bumping against each other and breaking that way.
- Try Glasslock storage containers. The glass is tempered, so it’s stronger and better able to handle temperature changes. They are pricier than canning or repurposed jars but might be an investment you’d like to make since you can also cook with them.
- Stick with jars that are designated as freezer-safe, like these pint-and-a-half wide-mouth jars, or use smaller size jars like wide-mouth pint, half-pint, and 4-ounce.
Frequently Asked Questions About Freezing Glass Jars
Below, you’ll find helpful answers to the most common questions about freezing in glass jars:
- Can you freeze soup in mason jars? What about freezing broth in glass jars? Go to answer
- Help! My glass jar cracked in the freezer. Is there anything I can do to salvage the food? Go to answer
- Are there any special tricks for how to thaw or defrost a frozen glass jar? Go to answer
- How do you label frozen jars? Go to answer
- Are all glass jars freezer-safe? What are the best jars for freezing? Go to answer
- My mason jar lids tend to get rusty after freezing, thawing, and freezing again. What can I do to fix it? Go to answer
- I followed all these guidelines, but my mason jar cracked in the freezer. What did I do wrong? Go to answer
Can you freeze soup in mason jars? What about freezing broth in glass jars?
Yep! You can freeze soup, broth, sauce, and more in glass jars. Here are a few of my favorite recipes that I freeze regularly:
Help! My glass jar cracked in the freezer. Is there anything I can do to salvage the food?
Unfortunately, I’m afraid not. After a glass jar cracks, some shards of glass can make their way into the food, so it wouldn’t be safe to eat. Also, if you open the jar, it can explode, sending glass and food splatters everywhere! To be on the safe side, put that broken jar in the trash and make a plan to follow the tips in this post from here forward.
Are there any special tricks for how to thaw or defrost a frozen glass jar?
To avoid broken jars during the thawing process, follow these tips:
- Loosen the lid or remove it entirely.
- Move the jar to the back of your fridge to start thawing.
- When the liquid seems mostly thawed, you can move the jar to your kitchen counter to continue thawing.
- Do not put the jar in hot water or in the microwave to thaw. Because if the jar itself isn’t yet at room temperature, the thermal shock could crack or break the jar. (I’ve heard of some folks putting frozen glass jars in the microwave on the defrost setting, but I try to avoid this because microwaves don’t heat evenly, and the glass could crack because of that.)
- To defrost more quickly, you can put the frozen glass jar in a bowl of cold water. (Never hot water!)
How do you label frozen jars?
Here’s what I do: Put a small piece of masking tape on the lid of the glass jar, then use a marker to write the name of what’s inside and the date I made it.
Are all glass jars freezer-safe? What are the best jars for freezing?
Most mason jars these days are made of tempered glass, which means the glass is several times stronger than regular glass. However, many foods you buy in glass jars like jellies, pasta sauces, and so on are not tempered glass and therefore will be more likely to break in the freezer.
Here are my all-time favorite glass jars for freezing: (If I had to do it all over again, I’d buy only these!)
- Wide-mouth pint (16 ounces)
- Wide-mouth pint-and-a-half (24 ounces)
My mason jar lids tend to get rusty after freezing, thawing, and freezing again. What can I do to fix it?
Some of my friends swear by these BPA-free plastic screw caps for mason jars. But if you’d like a plastic-free solution, you can add small pieces of wax paper under the mason jar lid (square pieces or cut into a circle if you want!). As a bonus, your jar lids will stay clean.
I followed all these guidelines, but my mason jar cracked in the freezer. What did I do wrong?
Sometimes glass jars just break! If you’re using a repurposed glass jar, it could be that the glass wasn’t as strong as you might find in a mason jar. Or it’s possible that the jar already had a small crack in it, such as if someone dropped it in the sink while washing it or if two jars got clanked together in the kitchen.
Replace that jar, keep following the steps outlined in this post, and you’ll wildly decrease your chances of it happening again.
Can I reuse the jars from pasta sauce to freeze soup?
Hi Daniella. Yes, you definitely can. In fact, my favorite jars for freezing soups and broth are straight-sided pasta sauce jars from Aldi. 🙂 Just follow the same guidelines about jar shoulders.
Thanks a bunch for this! I usually put my broth in jars in the fridge, but end up throwing some out because I don’t always use it before it starts to look questionable. Today, I decided to put it back in jars but see if there was a way I could freeze it without my jars breaking. Thank you for this information! I really appreciate you taking the time to put this information together!
Glad this was so helpful, Krystin!
Thanks for your information.
Glad to, Jerry!
Thank you so much! These tips are wonderful! I’ve probably broken 15 jars and I’m finally doing research as to why they broke and how to change that!! Soooo helpful!
Glad you found them helpful, Sarah!
How long is too long for bone broth to be kept in the freezer?
Hi RJ. My understanding is that it depends on the type of freezer. Deep freezers are supposed to keep things better than the freezer that’s with your refrigerator because they keep a consistently cold temperature. According to FoodSafety.gov, “frozen foods stored continuously at 0 °F or below can be kept indefinitely,” but my best guess is that the broth may start to lose a little flavor after 6-12 months. Hope that helps!
Thanks so much for the info! I need to freeze some soup and have already used all my plastic containers for other frozen soups. When I asked my husband if I could freeze it in Ball jars, he said, I don’t know, look it up. The first link I went to was this one, and fingers crossed, no broken jars using your tips. Thanks for sharing!
You’re very welcome, LauraLee! I’m glad these tips helped you freeze your soup.
I have read on certain websites that its not safe to freeze baby food in glass jars as if the glass cracks on the inside, you won’t even know that there’s shards of glass in the food. Is this true? How could you end up with shards of glass in the food?
It’s possible that small glass fragments could break off into the baby food and then end up on the spoon. There isn’t a good way to thoroughly strain baby food to be sure no glass is in it. But I’d still freeze baby food in glass. It’s unlikely to break since it doesn’t expand like broth and many other liquids. Just keep the top of the food well below the shoulders of the jar and it should be fine. And if a jar does break, discard the food to be safe.
How do you thaw a jar with frozen items so that it does not crack as it thaws?
I like to run tepid water over it or just set it on the counter if I need it quickly. Otherwise, I’ll put it in the refrigerator to thaw slowly. As long as you don’t shock the jar, like set it in really hot water, it shouldn’t crack.
Thanks for the tips! I came to this article because of a couple 32oz jars being compromised! I
After reading you article I realized it was because of the shoulder, and not leaving enough space for it to expand without hitting the shoulder. Appreciate your advice and will carry it all forward with me! Thank you ☺️
Hope you have lots of unbroken jars in the future, Ross!
thank you for this!! I just retrieved four (broken) jars of precious homemade broth from the freezer! Thanks to you, hopefully that will never happen again!!
You’re welcome, Deb! So sorry about your other broken jars, but hopefully this brings you more success for next time!
Thanks for these tips and explanation as to why the glass jars break in the freezer. I made bone marrow soup for the first time and have no experience freezing glass jars. I just assumed they were ok to put in the freezer. After two days in a hot kitchen and expensive ingredients I ended up with 6 broken Ball wide mouth jars and only one jar of soup sans broken glass (the one I kept in the refrigerator). But, no one in my house wants to try my soup because they think it must be toxic since it exploded in the freezer.
Ugh, so sorry Viv! That’s so disappointing. I hope your next batch turns out better.
Thanks for this article. I have shared it twice in the last few days
Thanks for sharing it, Judy!
Sadly my jars are still popping even while following these steps.The weird thing is that they pop days after being frozen.I did not open the freezer door until I heard the pop and wondering what in the world was that.So far there are 5 jars that went down the drain .I will try switching to another brand and be done with ball
Aw, bummer, Ann! Every once in a while I have a surprise jar break and I can’t figure out why, either. So sorry yours broke!
Wondering if you think these jars could be used for freezing https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/korken-jar-with-lid-clear-glass-90227985/
I was going to prep broth for post partum, but after reading your tips, I’m really nervous to use these for freezing as the lid has a lot more pressure than the mason jar screw on plastic or metal lid.
Hi Christiana! I don’t have any personal experience using these, but I think they’d work fine as long as you’re careful to keep the broth well below the shoulder area of the jars. I don’t think the lids will make a difference, but you’d probably also need to be careful unhinging them if the broth is still frozen. If you try it, I’d be interested to hear how they work for you!
Hey Kristen! I keep having jars break – I am doing most of these things, so not sure what to think…..but…how do you know that those jars you linked to are freezer safe? I don’t see that in the listing. Thanks!
Hi Adrienne! I’m sorry you keep having jars crack. That’s super frustrating! As far as I know, jars labeled as “freezer safe” are just smaller and wide mouth. The glass itself is the same as other mason jars. (Though I’m happy to be corrected if that’s wrong!) I think the only ones not labeled as freezer-safe are the quart size. So I just look for wide mouth jars because it’s the shoulders on jars that usually cause cracking. I freeze in all sorts of jars, though. If a jar has shoulders I just make sure to only fill it about halfway. I hope that helps a little!
Freezer safe jars are specifically made with tempered glass, which is tougher (about 4x as strong).
Thanks, Lauren! I’m always glad to gain more information. 🙂
My broth cooled to room temp. and then I poured it into wide-mouthed Ball jars, the smooth ones. I froze them with the lids off with an 1 or maybe a 1/2 inch a space. I didn’t think it would matter since the lids were off. One was brpken when I woke up the next morning, and by the end of the day the second one had broken as well! They weren’t touching each other or anything else in the freezer. Where did I go wrong? I got 7+ quarts of stock from my Thanksgiving turkey carcass, and I don’t want it to go bad!. Also, can I still use the broken stock if I strain it or is the shattered jar going to ruin it?
With the broken jars, I can’t be entirely sure, but it might be that you need more headspace in the jars. Even on the wide mouth style, I like to give them a couple inches of space.
When I do have a jar break, I will very, very carefully strain it through a cloth-lined sieve to be sure no glass particles can get through. This has worked really well, but you do have to be extremely careful.
I am wondering if anyone has an experience in freezing thicker items in glass jars. I am planning on making Pumpkin Butter and it will be thick. I would use wide mouth 1/2 pint or pint jars as most will be gifts. Recipes I have looked at say you can freeze, but don’t say how. I cannot seem to find any plastic containers that would be “pretty” for presents. Any suggestions and advice will be greatly appreciated.
Hi Tanya. Foods like that often don’t expand as much as watery broths and juices. Still keep some headspace in the jar to stay on the safe side, but other than that, you shouldn’t have to do anything special since it won’t expand as much.
I have a gallon pickle jar of peeled garlic. Can I freeze it?
Hi Lisa. Can you clarify your question? Is the peeled garlic just whole cloves, and is there any liquid around it?
I didn’t realize I needed to use wide mouth canning jars to freeze and lost 6 of 12 quarts of bone broth. Do you think I could filter the broth through a cheese cloth and coffee filter to make sure that there is no glass in it and salvage the broth?
Bummer, Debbie! I think most food safety experts would tell you to discard the broth. But I have strained it very carefully like you mentioned and used broth when I was certain there weren’t glass shards left. If you use cheesecloth, just make sure it’s thick enough to avoid any tiny splinters from getting through.
Do you think it is safe to put homemade stevia-sweetened, candied walnuts in widemouth, shouldered quart size mason jars in the door of the freezer? I don’t want them to break. I don’t see anything out there for freezing non liquids in the reg quart jars
Hi Kathi. I think that should be fine. The walnuts won’t expand like liquids do when they freeze, so there shouldn’t be excess stress on your jars.
Many years ago my mother had jars especially for freezing (I think they were Ball brand), but they are no longer made. I foolishly gave them away and now wish I had them! But I have done a lot of freezing in regular jars and have never had one break. Now I see why. Most of my jars are wide-mouth, no shoulders to worry about. But I have a few jars with shoulders and I’m going to remember to fill them below the shoulders now. Thanks for the great tips!
I wonder if her older jars were made from sturdier glass, too!
This may be the most exact solution to a problem I have ever found on the internet. I’m doing the exact same thing. My jars look just like your picture. And I still had an air gap at the top so it made no sense to me.
“Turns out that it isn’t the top of the jar you need to be mindful of when filling your jars. It’s the shoulders.” That line solves the problem and actually explains why it existed.
I’m so glad this helped you, Spencer! Wishing you many happily frozen jars from now on. 🙂
Thank you for the tips! I recently – and in the past – had few broken jars in my freezer full of delicious food and others with tomato sauce. I will follow this 5 steps now on to not waste any more money, food and my time. Blessing to you!
Glad to lend some ideas, Carla! I hope you find they keep your jars happy and intact.
Thanks for the tips. Do you have a link for the lids? So you can benefit?
Hi MaryAnn. Do you mean these lids? If there was a different kind I missed, just let me know. That link is my Amazon affiliate link, so I can earn a small commission if you order through it at no extra cost to you. I appreciate you asking about it!
Hi Marsha and Kristen,
I posted a comment on this forum some time ago. I have had amazing success for years now freezing food in canning jars. I don’t say this to brag or gloat but to possibly help everyone figure out the mystery of why others are having so much breakage. I have two deep chest freezers that are manual defrost and one freezer that isn’t. All three freezers are stuffed to capacity with hundreds of canning jars. There seems to be no correlation to canning jar breakage due to the difference between the freezers. Each one is from a different company. I open and close them frequently and have had the deep freezes open for ten minutes at a time when trying to find something I need.
I only use canning jars that have been on the market for the past ten years. While I do have old antique canning jars, I do not use them to freeze food. I buy about 12 boxes of new canning jars every year. This is not due to breakage, but due to my vacuum sealing dehydrated foods and grains. I have had zero breakage of canning jars in the freezer. The jars are reused again and again. I only use wide mouth Ball pint jars, half-pint Ball and Kerr jars, and 4 oz Ball jars that are all approved for freezing purposes. I do not use wide-mouth quart or half gallon canning jars to freeze with. They are not approved for this purpose. I do not have money or time to waste, so if these canning jars were not strong and durable, I would not be using this freezing method to preserve my food.
I had an accident a few weeks ago that might shed some light on the possible strength and quality of newer canning jars. Life is crazy busy, and I was not being very smart when I hurriedly tried to fit some more food into one of my chest freezers. During the process of rearranging everything, three tall stacks of pint and half pints jars that were fully frozen suddenly shifted, and the jars came crashing down with a horrifying sound. The sight was not pretty, and I was sure that there would be some serious breakage to clean up. There was not even one crack in any of the jars. I have on occasion also dropped a canning jar fully frozen while removing it from the freezer and have had it drop on my tiled kitchen floor. To my amazement, I have never had one of those jars break either.
Sure hope this might help someone figure out the breakage “mystery” that so many people are having.
Here is my old post:
I have been freezing foods in hundreds of Ball and Kerr glass jars for six years now and have had ZERO breakage. I utilize the original Ball boxes that the jars come in to freeze a dozen jars at a time. After filling the 12 jars with food, I place the entire box in the deep chest freezer. I always leave an inch of space and screw the white plastic lids on very loose. After the contents are frozen I tighten the lids. As I remove bottles from the freezer and use up the contents, there is more space to put other bottles in with new items to freeze. I stack the Ball boxes one on top of the other and simply remove the entire box to get to the box beneath it. I never put hot things into the jars or freezer. Everything must be room temperature or cold from being in the refrigerator — never ever warm or hot.
Thanks for sharing again, Clairemarie. It seems the smaller size jars really make a difference for freezing! I’ll add this tip to my list.
Thanks for all the tips! I am much older than you, and even as a child, it was drummed into me to “ NEVER put anything glass into the freezer! The grass could /would explode!” Never tested it out until recently… with bone broth, using canning jars.. although I did follow the tips you gave… my “long term storage” of said bone broth was short lived.
I am about ready to return to plastic (the horror!) freezer bags. Three diesn’t Seem to BE a truly good freezer option. I need to learn how to can, I suppose.. but I wonder about two things that I did not see mentioned as to a possible variable related to the breaking of the jars holding their precious contents.
1) I have “heard” for at least a few years that canning jars are no longer being made the same way they were for years. Past, and are not made to last ( no money in THAT!) and not nearly as durable nor strong. I do not know if that is factual or not… but , if so, perhaps that is a factor.
2) Also, surely the freezer temps vary at least a tad over the course of a day, especially if it is a self-defrosting freezer. When using an already fragile container, such as glass, even the slightest difference in temp might be responsible for the on-again, off-again cracking problems with the jars. In the same vein, each time the door of the freezer is opened, there is an inrush of much warmer air, which could be a culprit directly related to cracking of the jars. Something HAS to be responsible, once all the other know possibilities can be ruled out. It is the inconsistency in breakage that seems to be the great mystery.
Hi Marsha. Those are interesting ideas! I wouldn’t be surprised if canning jars aren’t as sturdy as they used to be. I know this is the case with Pyrex glassware, but I have never read anything about changes to canning jars. I think your second idea about warm air rushing into the freezer is interesting, too. There are times I have a jar filled at the right level and for no known reason it cracks in the freezer. This doesn’t happen often, but it is inconsistent and curious for sure! I’ve assumed it has to do with the glass having weak spots perhaps, but I’m not for sure.
And if you opt to go back to freezer bags, there’s no shame from me. 😉
In the few years Ive been trying to freeze soups what has worked is to defrost the jar in a bowl of cold water. It helps minimize temperature shock.
Thank you for your tips, its given me courage to reconsider freezing more with confidence!
Gentle defrosting can really help. Glad this post helped boost your confidence, Duana!
Thank you so much for this post! Just in time for soup season and a new Christian and stay at home parent! Beautiful layout on your blog! Very easy to read:)
You’re very welcome, Karissa! And thank you for the kind words about the blog layout.
Super helpful, thank you so much for these tips!
You’re very welcome David! I’m glad you found them helpful. 🙂
Hi. Going to try to freeze some of my quart jars of sauerkraut. Thanks for righting this; feeling better about trying this. 1 inch headspace.
I hope you have success, Isaiah!
Thank you so much for your tips. I have an over abundance of tomatoes this year – I got a little crazy when buying tomato plants in the spring – 24 plants and they are all producing! I have never canned and don’t really want to, but I have all of my mom’s and grandmother’s canning jars. I wanted to freeze the sauce, but I am not a huge fan of plastic, so I was happy to find your tips. I will be trying them out in the next couple days!
You’re welcome, Tonya! I also have this post you might be interested in: What To Do with Lots of Tomatoes When You Don’t Want to Can. Fitting, right?
I was wondering if you’ve ever made home made butter and froze it in mason jars? I thought I would give it a try but not sure if you can freeze it in jars or how long it would last?
Hi Laurrie! I have made homemade butter but have never frozen it. I don’t think it’ll expand in the freezer like broth will, so you can probably pack it tightly in wide mouth jars and freeze with no problem. It should keep its quality for at least a year, from my understanding. Homemade butter… yummy!
Very helpful tips on freezing glass jars
Thank you, Marilyn!
Can I freeze nacho cheese in jars using your tips for broth?
Hi Will. I would imagine so, though I’ve never tried it. Likely a nacho cheese won’t expand as much, so you should be in good shape. 🙂
After breaking. 6 mason jars I though t I found the key – from your good note -space between them. Completely did that and 2 of 4 still broke – making a total of ten. – I make chaga. Tea and ifeel I am spending my life cleaning up glass. I am now wondering. If either chaga has a weird property or I have faulty jars. Have you found any brands better ?
Hi Art. What a bummer to have so many broken jars and wasted tea! Have you tried wide mouth pint jars? You might find better results with those since they don’t have any shoulders.
Kristen, I hate plastic so always freeze in glass. I’ve never had a problem with any of my jars breaking, but I’m going to follow your tips just to be sure it doesn’t happen in future! Pinning to my Freezing and Preserving board.
You sound like a glass-freezing ninja, Jean! 🙂
Thank you for your most informative article. I have been freezing my juices in plastic bottles and really wanted to get away from that. I will now be using glass bottles with confidence.
You’re welcome, Theresa! Wishing you lots of frozen juice success. 🙂
I’ve been trying to find a homemade sauce for a while now. One that has no chunks in it at all. I just wanted to make sure that after it’s made I can stick it in a blender until smooth? I’ve tried to do that with Ragu and it separates weird. It’s gross. Also if I freeze some what’s the best way to defrost it? I’m really looking forward to trying this. Thank you!
Hi Kristina! Though I make many things myself at home, I admit… pasta sauce isn’t one of them anymore. 😉 I don’t have a tried and true recipe for you, though I can tell you that I really like Aldi’s Specialty Selects Premium Marinara Sauce. Hee hee! If you make sauce and freeze it, it might separate, depending on how much water is in it (from the tomatoes) and how it’s cooked before freezing. To thaw, you can do it in a sink of lukewarm/tepid water or in the fridge. You just don’t want to shock the jar with hot water when it’s frozen. That can cause cracking. I hope that helps!
THANK YOU!! I really needed this information– too many broken jars and too many quarts of precious broth ruined. Thank you so much for these tips.
You’re very welcome, Ann!
You are spot on with the tips! It is also important to realize that no all jars are freezer safe–canning jars must specifically state Freezer Safe.
Thanks! I’ve actually frozen things in regular canning jars that aren’t labeled freezer safe, but you can only fill the jar about halfway or it can break. Freezer-safe jars make things easier, though!
Thanks so much for the tips! Have you had any esperience freezing in the small mason jars, the baby wide mouth ones with no shoulder? I’m so excited to freeze my broth, I just made a ton !
You’re welcome, Laure! I’m not sure which size mason jars you mean, but anytime you have a wide mouth jar with no shoulders, you usually have more success freezing in glass. The shoulders are what usually cause jars to crack. I hope your broth freezes well!
Yes!! I used this size to store breastmilk. I never had any problems with them cracking at all and didn’t follow any of these precautions lol!
Great to hear, Em! And we all know that there IS plenty of reason to cry over spilled milk when it’s liquid gold, so we can’t risk it getting ruined by a broken jar in the freezer. 😉
Unfortunately, I came across your site too late so I’m hoping they don’t break. I make tomatoe sauce in batches and have been freezing in gallon bags. Not very happy with the method so I decided to freeze in 2 mason jars. Did it all wrong! Filled to the top and capped. I see the cap has bent some but the glass isn’t broken yet. Now I’m afraid to thaw it. Following what I read here in the comments, I’ll thaw it in the fridge and not room temp. Fingers crossed.
Thank you for all the advice I will be sure to follow it next time. 🙂
Hoping with you that your jars make it out whole, Michelle! I’ve found tomato sauce doesn’t expand as much as broth, so hopefully you’re safe this time. 🙂
I just made a large (large for us) batch of my own recipe Ragu. It’s amazing, I’ve saved jars from the past & plan to freeze the sauce in Mason jars. Great advice about the type of jar. I’ll use these this time to see what happens. Wish me well, I’ll cool them in the frig to get the vacuum seal. I did cover the sauce with plastic wrap pressed against the sauce. I’ll probably try the sock idea once they are cook… film at 11…
I hope your sauce freezes beautifully, Carol!
Thank you for these steps. I regularly freeze applesauce and peaches in Jas, but I recently tried freezing home made broth. All 8 of my small mouth mason jars BROKE, I was sick! I’ll try wide mouth jars next. I’ll let you know!
Hi Clara. Boo for broken mason jars! Freezing jam is easier because the sugar keeps the liquid from expanding so much. But with broth, it expands quite a bit and that’s probably why your jars broke. I hope these tips help for the future!
Hi Kristen ,
Very helpful article ! Thank you for sharing it . I plan to implement all you said so I can start having my smoothies daily that I don’t have time to make daily by making & freezing several ahead of time . What do you think about putting each Mason jar in a 1gallon size ziplock bag also ? Any thoughts ? Does it add more pressure to the jar ?
I only want to do that just in case it breaks it’s all. Contained in a ziploc bag .
Hi Sarah. You can definitely do that if you want, but I don’t think it’ll do anything to actually prevent breakage. Just be sure to follow the guidelines here and I think you’ll do well!
I like the idea of a clean sock around the jar, because if the jar breaks in the freezer, there isn’t glass shards. Throw it all away..
Good thinking, Angi. 🙂
If you freeze soups in the mason jars, can you then put them in instant pot to heat? Assuming you would put them on rack with water in bottom.
Hi Linda. Do you mean to put the jars of frozen soup in the Instant Pot? I’m afraid that would cause the glass to explode. Anytime glass is really hot or really cold, changing temperature too fast generally causes it to break. If pressure is added, that seems like a dangerous situation. I would suggest thawing overnight and reheating after taking the soup out of the jar. I hope that helps!
For 2 years now, I freeze soups, beans, and other dishes in Glasslock containers (tempered glass with plastic airlock lids with silicone seals). I take the frozen meal in glass, remove the lid and put directly into the Instant Pot with a time of 5-20 minutes, depending on the size and content of the meal. I use the same glass containers, week after week. No cracks, chipping, etc. has occured. I have also used Pyrex glass containers as well. I have NOT used mason jars, nor am I tempted.
And if glass feel too risky to try…consider stainless steel containers. They are more expensive from what I have found than glass, but they would eliminate breaking concerns while you store them in the freezer as well as putting directly into the Instant Pot.
I’ve heard great things about the Glasslock containers! Thanks for sharing how they’ve worked for you and your Instant Pot.
Is it sufficient to separate jars in the freezer with a piece of thin cardboard or card stock?
Hi Teresa. That can help cushion the jars so they don’t bump into each other and accidentally crack. Just be sure to follow the other tips, especially the one about not overfilling the jar. That’s usually the easiest way to end up with a broken jar. Best wishes!
Great information thanks!
You’re very welcome!
THANK YOU YOUR INFORMATION IS PERFECT!!!!!THANKS CAROL
You’re very welcome, Carol! I’m glad you found it so helpful. 🙂
I just made apple butter and put the jars in the fridge to cool. I will loosely put aluminum foil on them as a lid. Will let you know if this will work for freezing
I hope you have great success! Freezing jams and similar things is often easier because they don’t expand as much, if at all. So hopefully, you’ll wake up to frozen apple butter and happy jars in the morning! 🙂
Hi, Kristen! Thanks for this very useful post. Why are larger mason jars (32 oz) not recommended for freezing? It seems as the 16 oz jar that everyone recommends for freezing holds too little broth.
Hi Vicky! I’m not entirely sure why those aren’t recommended, but here’s my educated guess. 🙂 The concern might be that since the larger jars hold more liquid, there will also be more expansion of the liquid when it freezes. Expansion often causes jars to break. If you follow the tips I have here, especially using a wide mouth quart jar, you should be fine. I freeze in quart jars regularly, but I’m always careful to fill them 2/3 of the way at most.
A little math shows that the ratio of surface area to volume changes as the volume increases even though the proportions of the sides are the same. Which is to say, Kristen’s educated guess is supported by math and physics.
For example, think of a cube that is 1 foot in each direction. The cube has six faces and each face has an area of 1 sq. ft., so the total surface area is 6 x 1 = 6 sq. ft. while the volume is 1 x 1 x 1 = 1 cubic foot. Now double the length of each side in each direction, so you have a cube that is 2 x 2 x 2 = 8 cubic feet in volume. Each side is 2 x 2 = 4 sq. feet and there are 6 of them, so 4 x 6 = 24 sq feet. The ratio of surface area to volume for the smaller cube is 6:1. For the larger, it is 24:8, which reduces to the equivalent proportion of 3:1.
The volume of the second cube is 8 times the volume of the first but only 4 times the surface area. So relative to the available surface area, you would get double the expansion, which would be significantly more force pushing on the sides of the jar, unless the liquid is easily able to move upwards while the ice being formed displaces it. If the top were to freeze over before all the liquid in the middle had frozen, then you would get more outward pressure – some of which MIGHT be contained by the ice already formed, but ice, like glass, can crack.
Thanks for all that info, Margaret! Yay for science!
It’s because of the shoulders on quart jars. Look for pint&half jars at 24 ounces they are a compromise and are about the same capacity of leaving 2-3 inches of head space in quart jars with shoulders. They are hard to find but have the straight sides of the pints and have a line that says fill to freeze. With love-
Thanks, Suzi! I hadn’t seen the 24-ounce jars until reading your comment. They look perfect! I’m still likely to use my repurposed jars with shoulders and not filling up all the way, but I’m sure others would like to see them. Hope this helps Vicky, too! 🙂
How long would pasta sauce keep in freezer jars?
Hi Teresa! I checked with the USDA and other online sources. Most are saying that if the sauce has meat, it will last 3-6 months in the freezer. I’ve always read that food lasts longer in a deep freezer as opposed to the freezer that’s connected to your refrigerator. I would guess that 6 months is a good guideline, but you can check with FoodSafety.gov if you want to do a little more checking. Happy sauce making!
I have a question. Does it have to be a canning jar? Also can you freeze cooked chicken like that?
Hi Misty! I freeze most often in reused pasta sauce jars and peanut butter jars, so it definitely doesn’t have to be a canning jar. If you can to freeze cooked chicken, you could do it in a jar, but I think it would fare better if it was packed in there well and not exposed to a lot of air. Or you could add some chicken broth to the chicken in the jar to keep it from getting dried out. I hope that helps!
Can I use wide mouth quart jars ? If so how far should I fill them to protect form breakage?
Hi Jessica. Yes, you sure can use wide mouth quart jars! I fill these 2/3-3/4 of the way up. The wide mouth jars are really ideal for freezing since they don’t have shoulders. Best wishes!
My scientist husband also taught me that if you tilt the jar slightly it helps relieve the pressure of expansion.
Ooo, I haven’t heard that one before. Thanks for sharing, Lisa! That’s really clever.
It will also reach the shoulder first, that is what breaks the glass. Not sure what he is talking about Pv=nrt The volume in the jar does not change by tipping it! There will be less surface tension, but so what?
Sadly, I tried this trick and it didn’t work. Broken jar! But worth trying, I suppose. 🙂
My brother figured this out as well!
I finally decided to research the question I posed, above, about whether the way microwaves heat might protect jars more than conventional heat.
And it turns out, it looks like it may indeed confer some protection.
Cracks caused by thermal shock are cause when heat is suddenly applied to a cooler piece of glass, and the areas within expand at different rates, and when the rate of expansion exceeds the strength of the glass, it breaks.
Microwaving heats in a different way, with the micro waves going into the object to be heated, so that all parts of the object are heated up. This is not a blanket protection, because a solid hunk of frozen stuff, oatmeal, for instance, will remain colder than the similarly heated glass exterior, but it may protect just slightly cooler contents.
Nice research, Lucille! Thanks for sharing that!
Kristen, the oatmeal in that pint jar had been left overnight in the refrigerator.
Likely it thawed enough to not be a problem. I”m not really sure that glass will explode in the microwave, though. Sounds like a dangerous experiment, so I think we should avoid trying this at home, but I’ve never heard about it happening.
I made a big batch of steel cut oatmeal in my slow cooker. I filled a case of regular canning pint jars halfway and froze all but one jar. This morning I took the refrigerated pint jar and microwaved it on high for two minutes. No problem. Was I just lucky, or is their something about how microwaving and the way it heats that protected my jar?
Lucille, can you clarify? Was your oatmeal frozen or refrigerated when microwaved? It probably helped that your jars were only filled halfway if frozen.
For those wondering how much headspace to leave in a container destined to be frozen, water expands 9% when frozen. It is probably a good idea to leave a smidge more.
Thanks, Lucille! That sounds like a fun homeschool math lesson someday. 😉
I bought a number of the new Jarboxes, which are for storing canning jars. The upper and lower half are identical, so I put one half in the chest freezer, fill it with jars (and fill below the shoulders and loosely cap), and the next day I will put the top on. Jarboxes can be stacked so you can have literally cases of frozen jars but they are all safely held in the Jarbox and don’t break.
Jarboxes… I’ve never heard of them till now! These would definitely be handy for storing frozen jars in a chest freezer. So glad you shared, Lucille!
Welp, I could not muster up the courage to freeze my precious heirloom tomato sauce so I wound up cooking with it and froze individual meals instead, perhaps I will attempt freezing the sauce itself with a cheaper variety of tomatos next time.
I’m sure it must have been a very tasty sauce! Enjoy your frozen meals. Those are super handy, too!
Hi! What is the proper way to go from the freezer to the microwave with broth/soups frozen in glass jars? Thanks in advance!
Hi Chad! You know, I’m not entirely sure. We don’t have a microwave, so this is a guess. I would think that thawing slowly in the microwave on the “thaw” or “defrost” setting would be fine. The goal is to not shock the glass with a sudden change in temperature, so I think that as long as you aren’t microwaving on high, it will work. But if anyone else has experience, they can chime in to be sure. 🙂
I would NOT at all put a frozen jar in the microwave on any temperature. I would bet that’s an instant break if not explosion.
I am another who has had glass jars of broth break….not in the freezer, but AFTER removing the jar of broth from the freezer while sitting out on the counter.
I have found that removing the lid completely and defrosting in the refrigerator rather than on room temp counter prevents breakage. But it can take a full 24 hours or more for the frozen broth to defrost, so you have to plan ahead.
I have also found that the thinner broth (more watery, less concentrated) is more likely to break than concentrated, thick gelled broth.
In any case, if my jars broke at a room temp of around 70 degrees, then I would never recommend putting a frozen jar in the microwave.
Thanks for sharing, Alice. Just curious, why do you think the jar would explode if microwaved on the “thaw” setting and done with the lid off? Like I said, I don’t own a microwave and don’t know if I’d actually try it, but if frozen things can be thawed in a microwave when in plastic, would glass really explode?
You make a great point about the broth’s consistency and a jar’s tendency to break. I never thought of that! Glad you chimed in.
I found this when I “googled” if I could freeze glass jars because I have 1/2 gallon wide mouth jars and last week I picked my apple tress (and a neighbor who didn’t want to bother to pick hers!) and with my Norwalk juice press I made 3 gallons of wonderful raw pressed apple juice, but I know I will have to freeze some and did not want to use plastic jugs. Thanks for the tips, and am so happy my 1/2 gallon jars just happen to be wide mouth.
PS Last week I was canning pears and counting my jars a little worried I was short, and my husband ran to town…he calls to tell me he found some jars on sale…would I want some? The wonderful man came home with 10 cases of wide mouth quart canning jars!!!!
That’s a wonderful husband, indeed! I hope you enjoy all of your apple juice and pears. Yummy!
Just made my first batch of homemade tomato sauce and it’s been a pain attempting to find anything specific for freezing tomato sauce. Therefore I’ll be using these methods in high hopes that everything will work out alright. Alas, my girlfriend went out and bought the regular quart sized mason jars (with shoulders) and I didn’t come across this article until after I filled the jars so there’s no returning them now but I will be spreading the sauce into more jars, I’ll let you know how it goes ._.
I hope it goes well for you, Noah! The wide mouth does make things easier, but honestly, I still do most of my freezing in regular jars and just fill about 1/2-2/3 of the way. Enjoy your tomato sauce!
I’m glad I came across your site. I just had a big fight with my husband about how he overfilled and not properly stored our glass jars containing our 4 year olds blended carrots for carrot soup. It is such a long ordeal cleaning, pealing, chopping up and cooking the carrots only to have them destroyed by carelessness. My husband is notorious for being unorganized but, offered to help out and put away the carrots for me.
Ugh! Yes, it is so sad to see the product get thrown away but, I’m glad I found your site so I can show him in writing the proper way to fill and store the jars!
Oh, such a bummer when it feels like your hard work is for naught. I’ve felt like that many times when I’ve burned food while cooking, but I’ve always been grateful for my family’s grace with my mistakes. It sounds like your husband was really trying to help, so hopefully you two can find success with freezing in glass for the next time!
My 4 year old loves being my helper and I’m teaching him so many little tricks like what we just read about your jar freezing and hopefully they will be life lessons that he will carry on through the years!
Teaching little ones to help in the kitchen is an awesome thing to do, Cara! You won’t regret it. Mine are a bit older now and are tremendous helpers. I couldn’t manage without them. Keep it up! 🙂
Kristen, do you have a recipe for your chicken bone broth. I’m a newbie!
Hi Judy! You know, I am the laziest broth maker. Here’s what I do… it’s really the most un-glamorous approach! After we have chicken or beef, I just gather up the bones, put them in a crock pot, cover with water and add a splash of vinegar, then turn it on low. I’ll also throw in any skin, cartilage, or tough meat pieces that didn’t get eaten. After 12-24 hours, I strain it. That’s it! I don’t add any vegetables, though you absolutely can! Since I use broth in cooking, I add vegetables to the finished recipe and don’t worry about them being in the broth.
If I make chicken in the crock pot to start with, this is even easier. I don’t wash the crock out at all. I just throw the bones back in with any leftover juice or sauce and cook away.
Broth is one of those things that I think has been overly complicated to a crazy degree. You can do things to make sure it gels or add certain things for nutrients and flavor, but really, it’s just about simmering the bones! Easy, right? 🙂
I’m planning to use recycled milkshake glass containers for my express milk. I’m hesitant to use plastic milk storage bags because it’s not environment and health friendly and it’s expensive to buy again and again. I’ll experiment using your advice. I hope I’ll be succeful. I’ll try to avoid very tight cap but I guess it should not be too loose for express milk or it might get contaminated. Oh well trial and error. Thanks for this article! 🙂
Hope it works out well for you and your little baby!
Would Saran wrap work for the expressed milk to keep it safe and still be covered till it freezes and then you could put a regular lid on it after it’s frozen?
That sounds like a plan worth trying. 🙂
Very nice article, Kristen. Just to add my two cents – another way to cushion the jars in the freezer is to slip the shank of an old crew sock (after the foot is cut off) over the jar after the contents have frozen. I have a huge chest type freezer and things do get bumped around now and then. I found this to be really helpful.
Another helpful hint for a chest freezer – kitty litter buckets, boxes and those plastic crates you can buy make great sections that help keep things organized. they are also stackable so that it’s easier to get to food on the bottom. (I didn’t like those sliding trays so use them for plant protection in the spring garden.) I hadn’t thought this was unusual until someone was visiting, saw them in my freezer and thought it was a great idea. So I’ll share. 😉
Great additions, Joy! Thanks for sharing your tips. We have an upright freezer, but I can definitely see how those tricks would help a lot for a chest freezer. Glad you shared!
I couldn’t find a way to leave a comment, so I am opting to jump into this thread by using a “reply” box. I have been freezing foods in hundreds of Ball and Kerr glass jars for six years now and have had ZERO breakage. I utilize the original Ball boxes that the jars come in to freeze a dozen jars at a time. After filling the 12 jars with food, I place the entire box in the deep chest freezer. I always leave an inch of space and screw the white plastic lids on very loose. After the contents are frozen I tighten the lids. As I remove bottles from the freezer and use up the contents, there is more space to put other bottles in with new items to freeze. I stack the Ball boxes one on top of the other and simply remove the entire box to get to the box beneath it. I never put hot things into the jars or freezer. Everything must be room temperature or cold from being in the refrigerator — never ever warm or hot.
Glad you’ve had such success, Clairemarie! I think using the Ball boxes is a great idea for chest freezers.
(P.S. the comment box is waaay down the page since there are over 120 comments on this post. 😉 )
I just had nine quarts break in the freezer. For sure I did not leave as much head space as you recommend and I tightened the lids. Thanks for the tips!
Oh no, Denise! I’m so sorry to hear about all the broken jars, but hopefully some of these tips will help you for the next time.
Keep the broth in glass jars in the refrigerator. Buy several cheap ice cube trays, 3 -4 should be enough. Freeze the broth in the trays and use as needed. The “cubes” can be stored safely in the freezer in a plastic container or bag. Mark the container or bag with the date & contents Don’t risk a glass jar in the freezer, unless the jar is marked specifically for freezing. Finally, never, never use the contents from a glass jar that has cracked in the freezer or refrigerator. No matter how delicious your bone broth was, it does equal the risk of a perforated colon for you or a loved one.
Thanks for sharing your experience and tips, Connie. 🙂
I apologize if a comment/question like this has already been posted, but I did not have time to scroll through and read them all.
My problem is usually after I take them out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge (usually for a few days for the larger jars).
I just went to take out a jar of soup I thawed and it just shattered all over the fridge! I always let things cool first and don’t seal the lids all the way, careful about overfilling, and still when I put them in the fridge to thaw I occasionally have a disaster on my hands!
These are all new jars too so it’s not like they’re old and just done or anything like that.
Oh how disappointing, Kristi! It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. Maybe switch to all wide mouth jars? I’ve never had this happen to me, so maybe if someone else has, they’ll be able to chime in with more ideas!
OK! I woke up this morning to find 1/2 of my jars broken!! You know how time consuming it is to make and clean up bone broth…and seeing all your hard word literally go down the drain STINKS!
Ive tried not filling the jars as full, letting them cools before freezing…they still break.
Your tip of saying: space them out in freezer, and to not screw lid on all the way is what I will try next. SUCH A BUMMER to have your delicious and nutritious broth ruined!
I hope next batch I can open the freezer and do a little happy dance to NON broken jars!
So sorry to hear about the broken jars. I understand the pain! Along with the lid trick and spacing, if the jars have any shoulders to them, try just filling them only halfway. It seems overly cautious, but it really helps. I think it’s the shoulders on the jar that cause the problems. Good luck!
Can we freeze with any jars? (ie not canning jars)
I reuse all sorts of jars, Cheryl. In fact, my new favorite jars to freeze in are the glass natural peanut butter jars! They’re usually a wide-mouth style and really are perfect for freezing, I think. Best of all, no extra cost!
I once heard of putting SOMETING (I do not remember what) in the jar that will compress. If you know what would work please share it with me.
I freeze apple cider. The next time I freeze a jar of apple cider I think I will try pasteurizing a apple core also and put it I the jar with the juice, hopefully the apple core will compress and prevent broken jars?
Hm, I’m not sure, Norman. I’d love to hear from someone else that’s familiar with this tip, though!
Thanks so much! I just bought a ‘batch’ of medicinal vegetable broth from a local culinary cold pressed juice place and it is BEYOND YUMMY! The workers told me that the chef said it was good for 72 hours. I so wanted to freeze it but wasn’t sure. It’s already in ball mason jars and I think the levels are low enough that it should freeze properly~that may be why they did it! Thanks so much for these tips!
Wow, Tracie, that sounds delightful! Definitely something I’d like to have in my freezer, too.
Another friendly tip everyone: To alleviate an accidental breakage mess, simply follow the tips here and when you load them into your freezer, place each one in it’s own ziploc baggie. That way, if if DOES break, the mess is contained. I’ve also found that once frozen, lay them down (or even upright, I suppose – doesn’t matter) and you can stack them with a kitchen towel/flour sack to buffer or cushion any clinking when you dig through in search of other foods. Cheers.
Great additions, Kristin. Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome! Love your blog. Keep at it!
Thanks for this great information. Just ordered $200 worth of nuts from nut.com and wanted to keep some out and freeze the rest. And I have boxes of canning jars stored. So good to know I can use them to freeze these nuts.
Sounds like you’ll be well stocked with tasty nuts for a while, Suzy! Glad this was helpful to you.
According to this article, not all quart jars are freezer-safe: http://blog.fillmorecontainer.com/index.php/2013/06/13/freezing-in-canning-jars-101/ …so for those who still have glass breaking using all the tips shared in the original article by Kristen here, maybe try freezing in the smaller jars only?
Hi Michelle! Thanks for sharing that article. There are some great tips in there, too! I think they are suggesting that freezing in regular mouth jars in the larger sizes can be problematic, which lots of us have found to be the case, too. I’ve been able to do it so long as I only fill it about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up. Any higher than that and I usually have a broken jar.
Wow. The reason I googled this and found this site is because of the two jars I just lost in the freezer. Now I know its because of the shoulders although this never happened to me before and maybe tight lids. If I had know about the panty hose, I could have saved my precious bone broth.
Thank you so much Helen
You’re welcome, Helen! I hope you are spared from many broken jars in the future! 🙂
I knew none of these tips, but still managed to follow them all by – still cracked. I was not freezing my broth at all. Then one day I wanted to extend the life of my last jar because I was going out of town. It had already been in the refrigerator, was not completely full, was a wide-mouth Mason jar, and yet it still cracked – my first time ever freezing broth. I will try again, but I was disheartened mostly because of the loss of all that good broth – I still drank it though I strained it a couple of times first. Will try with loose lid next time – thanks!
Mason jars are the best! Something about the name. . 😉
Should I chance eating my bone broth from a broken ball canning jar? The jar broke in the freezer and I hate to waste all of the broth. I might be able to strain it after it thaws to make sure there are no shards. It looks like it broke cleanly. What have you done when your jars have broken?
My guess is that a lot of people would say to throw it out, but I’ll be honest. I strain mine through a thick kitchen towel if the glass doesn’t look shattered. We haven’t had a problem doing that. I don’t really know how easily any glass could go through it, but if there were teeny pieces broken, I’d probably skip that. I know what you mean about not wanting to get rid of that broth!
I freeze glass jars all the time and have never had one break. I use ones without shoulders and leave an inch of headroom for a pint with liquid (less for a half-pint, less if it has solids like a hearty soup) Also I’m slow enough I couldn’t get hot broth into the freezer if I tried. I use both plastic & metal lids with no trouble.
If using jars with shoulders you need to leave space below the shoulder because the expansion will raise the water level. Solids would be less risky with a shoulder. I’ve also frozen shoulder jars on their side, to reduce the depth of the water.
Yes, I’ve definitely learned that wide mouth jars are the way to go! I always reach for those first. My supply of them is pretty low, so I still end up using regular jars with shoulders and filling them up halfway most often.
Oh my goodness, thank you for this information! I am going to give a try the next time I make bone broth. Over the week-end, my family and I made a huge batch of bone broth, one for us and one for our dog (no onions in his). For my dog, I made a smaller pot and I put those in half quart jar in the freezer. For us, we had 10 quart-size jars. Two days after putting them in the freezer, none of the dog’s jars are broken and ALL OF OUR jars are broken. Not one survived! *sigh* I do not fill them past the shoulder. I can’t understand why they all broke. I am going to put your suggestions in action and hope that the next time we will many less causalities.
Thanks, again, for your post!
My problem is that the bottles crack as I keep them out to thaw. No problem while they r in the freezer. I set them out in the sink to thaw n get cracked glass. Then I set them in a waterbath of cold water n they crack. I’ve lost precious contents n am wondering what to do…
Hmm… I’ve been thinking about your problem, Emm, and I’ll be honest. I’m not sure what that would be happening! I’ve never had trouble with that unless it’s been a jar that was already cracked before hand. I’m sorry I can’t be of much help! I do hope you are able to find the problem. That would be rather disappointing!
I have a couple of thoughts here. Possibly thawing more slowly in the fridge would help. I’d set the jar in a bowl just in case. Of course, unlike me, you’d have to plan ahead. 😉
The other thought is taking the lid off or loosening it a good bit thus allowing the expanding air to escape as it warms. This might put less pressure on the jar.
Those are good thoughts, Joy! Thanks for sharing them. Maybe one of your suggestions will do the trick. 🙂
Does it crack into tiny pieces or just large cracks? If large cracks maybe you can thaw the jar in a large pot, so if it does crack you don’t lose the contents, or maybe run the broth through a paper coffee filter first, to remove anything that may get into the broth…just a thought.
A good use for old socks is to cut the leg part off and use that for sleeves for jars in the freezer (or out for that matter) If the jars bump together in the freezer they are nicely padded and don’t break. 🙂
This has previously been a recommendation for people who have food in jars in locations that tend to be prone to earth shakes. This and putting strapping of some sort across the front of shelves on which the jars are stored to prevent leaping jars and the loss of all that hard work.
Perfect use for all the stray socks I seem to collect! 🙂
I have been researching this and another tip that I am going to use — besides filling the quart-sized wide mouth mason jars just about 2/3-3/4 full and putting in the lower frig a couple hours before putting in the freezer is that I am going to put the entire mason jar (with a loose lid) inside a freezer bag before putting it in the freezer. That way if it cracks at least I won’t have a mess to clean up in the freezer!
Does anyone know of brands that sell freeze-safe glass containers?
That’s super-smart, Michele! Glad you shared. 🙂
Besides the straight side canning jars my favorite glass storage containers ate from Luminarc. They have both round and square sets available. The containers are tempered glass with a BPA free plastic lud with a vent and leak proof gaskets.
They ate dishwasher, freezer and microwave safe.
I found them online at Groupon and at Bed, Bath & Beyond with a 20% coupon.
They are pretty reasonable, aftee my cousin saw mine ahe replaced all of her plastic with them too.
Great tip! Thanks for sharing. I don’t have any Luminarc glass pieces, so I’ll have to check them out.
I’ve been using Glasslock containers for about 5+ years and LOVE them. They ‘nest’ (store inside each other), they are made with tempered glass, are safe for the microwave, freezer, dishwasher and oven (their video says you can cook cold food in them in the oven). I have even recently used them from the freezer directly to my pressure cooker to thaw a meal that was previously cooked. Another thing I LOVE about them is that food lasts longer in them. I have pyrex storage containers too and they beat these containers hands out in how long they keep produce fresh. I have forgotten about food (like half an apple) left behind other containers and 2 weeks later found it without oxidation (browning). I ate it without trouble…of course I do not recommend any one do this…I only remembered later that day the apple was from 2 weeks prior. Time after time, the airtight lock out performs other storage methods I have used or remember using. I do freeze things in them as well (shredded cheese, leftovers, raw hamburger patties) and have never had a problem with cracking or breaking of the glass or the lid.
Here is a link to a video about them…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYA4vkAqqIw
Here is their website…http://glasslockusa.com/shop/
I have seen them sold at The Container Store too. I purchased my at Kroger for $12 for a whole set 6 years ago, loved them so much I needed more and found a groupon or something (maybe a Woot off) and got 3 more sets. I have one set that is blue which I use for the freezer and the rest are green and there is no difference…no noticeable wear and tear between the two or at all.
The ONLY ONLY thing that would cause me to use something else would be if there was a product that came out that had the same air-tight quality with a glass lid. The lids are made from a BPA-free plastic. I just don’t trust plastic even if it is BPA-free or ‘safe’. IMHO we just have not detected the harm other plastics cause but history has shown us that usually 20-50 years later something comes out about most man-made materials. So I don’t let my food touch the lids of course, but there is a part of me that wonders if close proximity can also leach smaller amounts. Even jars with their lids that have a waxy/plastic coating on the inside (or what kind of metal do these use for the lid) are not better or worse than using containers with these lids. That is my little paranoid rant. But that would be the ONLY thing that would cause me to be lured away from my Glasslock containers.
Thanks for sharing, Lisa! I agree… it’s so hard to avoid plastic!
I’ve tried all of these and more. I put my glass of (usually) water or tea in the fridge first then after it is really cold move to the freezer & it still breaks. I use to do it all the time but it seems this year & last I have went through all my glass jars due to breakage. I’m so disappointed. I hate watered down tea so I usually fill a glass about half full with no lid and place in the freezer at night before I go to bed. When I get up in the morning before I leave I fill the rest of the glass with tea so it stays colder longer. Same with my water. I’m down to my lat 3 mason jars!!!!!! Any ideas or suggestions???
That’s no fun, Jen! Have you tried using the wide mouth jars?
Another idea to consider would be to put your tea in ice cube trays, then once they freeze, put those in a freezer bag. I’ve done that with leftover coffee for my iced coffee drinks!
Yes Ive used wide mouth and regular mouth jars. I could do the ice cube thing it’s just that it doesn’t stay cold as long as if you have 1 big cube of ice. I turn the glass on its side a little if I have the room, thought that would help, no. Another thing is why is it just sometimes & not all the time? That’s what confuses me the most. I don’t fill it up all the way, just about half or a little more, no lid, I’m baffled and frustrated with this. LOL
You know, I’ll be honest. I’m not sure what else to try! I’m sorry! The best thing that I changed was filling them up much lower than I thought I could. That’s about all I have for you!
I definitely get the frustration. When I was losing so many jars from breaking, it was driving me nuts! I hope you are able to find a solution that works for you!
Hi there: I’m a novice at making my own broth. Made my first batch of bone broth a few days ago and it turned out perfect! I was thrilled! So I cooled it, put it in a mason jar and instinctively didn’t fill it to the brim before storing it in the freezer. Nevertheless, the jar cracked – a nice clean single crack all the way from top to bottom. Determined to save my broth, I did some research and came across a website with very interesting information. It claims that, aside from cooling the broth and leaving space in the jar, you also need to use “straight” -sided mason jars rather than those with “shoulders”. Apparently, this bottle-neck shape figures in to the expansion-explosion equation – not sure exactly how but they seem to really know their stuff. So there you have it. This may well be the missing key to the perfect freeze when using mason jars. And thank you so much for the tip on saving my broth by using an old stocking (LOL!). Although I don’t believe I’ll tell anyone I strained the soup through my pantyhose to get the glass shards out:-)). That’ll be our little secret. Cheers and happy cooking! Mia
Hi Mia! Yes, something with the broth freezing anywhere near the shoulders makes them break. If I ever use a jar that has shoulders when I’m going to freeze broth, I always leave lots of room so that when the broth expands, it doesn’t go above the shoulders. The wide mouth masons then allow you to put more broth in the jars, which is nice.
I’ll keep the stocking a secret! 😉
Thanks for visiting!
I have heard that as long as you keep the liquid below the “shoulders” of the jar- you will be fine. Which is exactly what you did in the second photo.
I’ve found that I have to be sure the *frozen* broth doesn’t hit the shoulders of the jar. I used to fill them up to the shoulders, then freeze, and end up with broken jars since the broth would expand up so far. I was so confused as to why that was happening! So it’s definitely all about being mindful of where the broth will freeze to on the jar.
These are good ideas. I used to freeze in jars all of the time, but after a couple of broken jars, I quit. Maybe I will try again keeping your tips in mind! 😉
I haven’t had any break since being more careful with these ideas! Another commenter suggested freezing in ice cube trays, which would work great for doing just a little bit. Good luck!
I have been canning mine in the hot water bath or pressure canner. Its really easy and then it doesnt take up any freezer space and its ready to go when I need it for a recipe. I also freeze some into ice cubes, then put all the cubes in a freezer bag. When I make my own cream of soup, I just pop a couple in there while they are cooking, adds great flavor and health benefits!
Pressure canners can be a great solution for broth, as well as the ice cube trays! That’s a tip I’ve heard from some other blogging friends, too, so I’m glad you mentioned it.
One question though… I’ve always read that broth should only be done in a pressure canner since it is not acidic for hot water canning. Do you do something different with your broth to make it safe to do in water bath?
Yep definitely learned the hard way too!! My husband thought I was out of my mind when I wanted to try and salvage brunswick stew (the BEST brunswick stew, mind you) that was in a jar that had broken. Not going to let that happen again!
I always can my broth, so don’t have to thaw to use.
I ditched the plastic a couple of years ago and started using my canning jars to freeze. Like you, there was a learning curve, and I had a few broken jars at first. I freeze everything in jars now.
Greta post. I freeze everything in glass as well. I did a blog post on this please check it out on http://www.nzecochick.com/2013/03/glass-storage-in-freezer.html Biggest tips are definitely don’t overfill the jars and also don’t put the ids on until they are frozen solid. Mx
I called the Ball company and they said something about squarish sides vs. round sides…I don’t even remember which one it is now because I tried it the way they said and they still cracked too. I’ll have to try your methods 🙂
Oh no, Kara! I hope something here gives you better results. I’ve learned some more ideas from what readers have shared, too!
I take old socks cut the feet off and put the top section over my jars this helps so that the jars don’t crack not only when I freeze them put also when stored
Thanks for the tips
Such a smart move!
Just don’t put the lids on at all until the contents have frozen solid, they will never break if you do that. And yes, some kind of protection or cushioning around the frozen jars is a good idea. Paper bags, leftover bubble wrap, cardboard, etc.
I’ve actually done that and still had them break, Denise. Sadly, it was from filling them above the 2/3 or 3/4 full mark. That broth really expands in the freezer!
If you do have a jar break in the freezer don’t throw it out. Cut a leg from an unused pair of panty hose and put the jar inside it. Set this in a bowl and let it thaw. No worries over glass being in your beautiful broth:)
This is JUST what I was looking for! Thanks! My hubby thought of coffee filters and then we figured they’d be a bit too fine for broth. Two quarts saved! Thanks, Helen!
You generally should never try to salvage anything that’s been exposed to broken glass. Micro-fragments you cannot see are all usually all over around the fractured area. Food should not be consumed due to potential damage caused from ingestion of the fragments.
Granted, it’s probably safer in the long term than plastic leeching, but still. I personally wouldn’t risk it unless maybe it was strained through something with the makeup of a coffee filter.
Thanks for the input, Ace. You’re probably right. I like the coffee filter idea!
when putting glass jars in chest freezer, contain them together in a wire or plastic basket, no breaking ,easier to get out.
A card board box with newspaper in between the jars would work well in a chest freezer.
Great idea, Ryan! Thanks for adding. 🙂
always fill the jars under the part of glass that starts to curve in . if you put it above that line , as the liquid expands it puts pressure on the corners of the jar and cracks it .
Thanks for that helpful addition, Jamie!
I have recently gone crazy over Mason Jars. I started out using them as drinking glasses since they have the measurements on them and are so useful for everything. Now I use them to put gifts (homemade products) in and kitchen storage for everything from the freezer to leftovers. No more scary plastic leachings.
I love them, too! 🙂
Yes the wide mouth jars or jars with no shoulders are the ones you can freeze in without worrying about them breaking.
I have had mostly good luck with freezing bone broth in glass jars, but you have given me a few more things to try and hopefully none will break now. I have been reusing wide mouth jars that products such as ghee come in, and losing one now and then is not a problem but losing my broth IS a problem — thank you!
Yes, having that super broth get wasted is horrible!
I’ve tried and failed many times to freeze broth in canning jars. Our freezer is a chest freezer and I think in rummaging around looking for that pkg of ground meat the jars get just a tiny ‘plink’ and in their frozen state they’ve shattered – glass scattered throughout the contents of a chest freezer is a bad thing indeed. I’ve been freezing broth in plastic peanut butter jars has eliminated that but I *H-A-T-E* plastic! I’m going to give it another go – thanks for the tips!
Wolfe City, Texas
Ooo, that would be a challenge! I wouldn’t blame you for compromising with plastic in this case, but if the tips help you a little, that would be great, too!
have you tried confining the jars in a basket or something that might protect them a little more or you could remove if you needed to dig to bottom for something? i use to have stackable crates that i kept loose or like kind items in so it was a bit easier. now i have an upright freezer but still use baskets for my smaller bags of fruits and veggies i have done.
Possibly inserting each jar into an old thick sock might protect them from “plink”ing? Hope you’ve found a workable solution!
Great idea! I have a basket of those!
I am going to try muffin tins to freeze, then pop them out and put in freezer bags. This weekend I found 3 cracked jars and I am over it. They were cooled when frozen, not filled too full and were wide mouthed. I am moving on to a new plan. Good Luck to everyone, homemade broth is such a wonderful thing!
I’m sorry your jars broke, Jackie, but I think your muffin tin idea is brilliant! Enjoy your yummy broth.
Similarly, I use ice cube trays to freeze fresh-squeezed lemon juice and vegetable broths. It works great! Each cube is roughly 2 TBS, making it easy to get the right amount for recipes.
Definitely a great idea. Thanks, Linda!
I buy miracle whip in the large size containers. I am wondering if freezing chopped peppers or onions would be okay to freeze in ? Many alerts regarding plastics being unsafe. Anyone know if the plastic jar would be safe to freeze in?
I do still freeze in plastic, Margie. It’s not my favorite, but so long as whatever I’m freezing isn’t warm when I put it in the bag or container, I don’t worry too much. For example, all of my frozen fruits and veggies from the summer go into plastic freezer bags. For broth, I like the glass better since I never have the broth fully chilled before putting into containers. I personally think reusing the plastic jars for veggies would be fine. Hope that helps!
On all the Ball jar boxes, it will tell you which jars are safe to freeze in. Any jar with straight sides. So the pint, 1/2 pint, jelly jars, and the new 1-1/2 pint are all safe. I learned this after a few explosions in the freezer also. Hope this helps. Oh yeah,I also use the plastic lids, they are wonderful, and as long as you fill the jar to the freezer line, the contents never touch the plastic.
I almost always get my jars second-hand, so I’ve never known that about Ball boxes! Good to know!
Thanks for reading and sharing your tip today!
I use jars for my broth also, but I put them in the freezer without the lid for a day. I have not lost any jars this way.
Good tip, Denise! Seems to go right along with the idea of loosely settling the lid on the jar. Glad you read & shared your tip!
I was thinking of not putting a lid on as well. Good, I’m glad it works so, I’ll try it 🙂
I must admit, I was told as a child to never freeze in a glass-container being that it would, ” explode,” (obvious from heat/cold shock). I am a man, but never the less also a home-maker. Please, I thank all you kind ladies for sharing your personal experiences.
I’m glad this was helpful, Bud! I’ve never had a jar explode, though cracking is still annoying. Hopefully these tips will keep your jars from breaking in the freezer. Lots of great ideas all through the comments!
Thanks a lot for all the tips on freezing in glass canning jars. My apple tree bore so many apples this year that I have needed to come up with a creative solution as to what to do with all of them. I plan to juice many of the not so perfect apples & freeze the juice, so I very much appreciate the tips here & will try & report the outcome of this experiment!
Fresh apple juice from your own tree? That sounds lovely! How did your project go, Marsha? Juice won’t expand the same way water or broth does, so hopefully your jars stayed intact and you can enjoy the best apple juice through the rest of the year.
I have never thought to freeze in canning jars! <3 it!
Thanks for this info. I too,have had many broken jars even though I thought I was leaving plenty of head space. Hoping to have more success with the next batch of broth and jars.
I hope something helps! I very much understand the disappointment with the broken jars.
Great tips! I also thaw them slower by placing them in the fridge to thaw. Haven’t had another one crack since doing that. 😉
That’s a good tip, too! Thank you!
nice! i knew most of the tips, but i rarely freeze in glass (never have enough jars – and they take up more freezer space – or don’t they???) cooled broth in plastic bags (which i use only because they seem to use the least space) i can push 99% of the air out and freeze them flat and stack them once frozen
too bad we cannot have glass bags LOL
Can these tips be used for none liquid storage too? Such as veggies, fruits, dog treats?
Like, can I just throw in a bunch of the treats and throw in freezer? If it’s not liquid, do I have to worry about expansion so much?
I VERY NEW!!!!! 🙂
Hi Tabitha. It all kind of depends on what you’re freezing. For many fruits and veggies, they do better if you freeze them in a single layer first, like on a cookie sheet, then transfer to a plastic bag, jar, or any other container. That prevents you from ending up with a mass of frozen food. Some veggies also need to be blanched before freezing, which means boiling very briefly and cooling in ice water immediately after. Then there are blueberries, which you can just put in a freezer bag raw and they freeze without sticking together. You likely won’t have to worry about jars breaking if you aren’t freezing anything liquid.
Freezing is really simple, so don’t let the little differences intimidate you. Just check on the specifics for what you want to freeze. Best wishes!