Can I reuse empty jam jars for making and bottling jam or marmalade?

by Carole
I am thinking of making some marmalade but don't want to have to buy a lot of jars for this. I have several empty jars from bought jams and I kept the twist off lids. If the lids have not been damaged (i.e prised with a knife to open them more easily) and the jars are washed and sterilized (using boiling water and sterilizing tablets) can I use these jars to bottle home made marmalade? If so, are there any other steps I would need to take to ensure the jars are sterilized properly and that no air gets into the jam or marmalade. Thanks for any help you can give to a first time jam maker.
  11 answers
  • I think you can use the jars, but the lids would need to be new. Once they are boiled from what my grandmother said years ago they cannot be used again. Think is has to do with seal.
    • Carole Carole on Nov 05, 2014
      @Woodbridge Environmental Do you think that would be the same if using sterilising tablets such as are used to sterilise babies bottles? Miltons or similar brand? Does the water need to be boiling for those to work? Perhaps I should check a bottle of Miltons and see what the story is with that product??
  • I think the center lids is where the seal is formed. Some sort of rubber ring. The bottles need to be boiled to clean them let cool and fill. Its the screw tops I think you need to repurchase. Its been a long time sense my grandparents did canning. They had a 100 acre farm upstate NY and grew all sorts of veggies and fruit and canning was how they made money on the farm. But the glass jars came back with the lids from those who purchased them and she threw the tops, just the flat center part away and used new flat disks that had the seal already to go. Here is one brand I knew she used web site.
    • Carole Carole on Nov 05, 2014
      @Woodbridge Environmental I had an idea that might be the case. I wonder if anyone else out there can clarify this. I had an idea that you have to use some sort of wax paper or something either in the lid or instead of a lid? Thanks so much for all the insight and info you have provided and the link.
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Nov 05, 2014
    Paraffin or wax seals don't prevent mold growth and are no longer recommended for sealing any sweet spread, including jelly. Also if you use large jars it doesn't gel right. Because canning has changed so much go to your Extension Center ( mine would be Missouri Extension Center) I started canning this summer and canning has changed from the way I canned 10 years ago. But you could make refrigerator jam. if they are like regular jelly jars they could work if the new lids fit them. Everything I thought I knew about canning has changed. I have made jelly and jams but I use jelly jars.
    • See 2 previous
    • Sherrie Sherrie on Nov 05, 2014
      I also should have noted American industries have quit making glass we can use for canning. You use to able to reuse the jelly jars. But no longer can we use any of them. They have taken the recycling out of it.
  • Carole Carole on Nov 05, 2014
    Thanks for the answers, but I'm still hoping for more ideas.
  • Vicki K Vicki K on Nov 05, 2014
    You keep and re-sterilize the canning jars (Ball, Mason). You toss the rubber rings, lids, and screw tops. You have to buy those new every time you can something. From my grandmother, a pioneer, farm woman. Otherwise you risk botulism and death, esp if the food is not acidic (like tomatoes). You are never to use any other jars like jelly or pickle jars just because they are glass! Buy canning jelly jars, lids with rubber attached are newer than the separate rings, and the screw down rings. It's just the cost of canning every year. I used to pick wild plums and make plum jelly, and that's what she told me to do. Good luck.
    • Carole Carole on Nov 05, 2014
      @Vicki K Thanks. Seems my sneaking suspicion that the glass jar is not the issue but the lid is the problem was right then. I guess if I make marmalade I will need to buy the jars and then just the lids each time after that. Thanks to all for the information provided. Appreciate the information from everyone. @Sherrie @Woodbridge Environmental
  • Mcc Mcc on Jan 25, 2015
    I have done this for years-if there is a good rubber seal still in place and you are going to water bath them to seal the jars after you have cleaned both the lids and jars and kept them hot they will seal fine. never have had a problem.
  • Rita Rita on May 13, 2015
    You can reuse your lids as long as the rubber is in tack and no bends in the lids...we have been doing this for many years and no brought jelly jars can be reused as long as there is a rubber on it...just heat in hot water before screwing on mother use to just put wax on top of the jelly to seal the jelly or whatever
  • Sharon Seiber Sharon Seiber on May 13, 2015
    I agree with Mcc and Rita both. I have done this many times, as long as the rubber is intact in the lid.
  • Deanna Mills Deanna Mills on May 14, 2015
    I have had mixed results with doing this. My problem was the glass breaking in the boiling water, not the lids. Boil the lid and keep them in hot water until you put them on the jar and the lids will seal. I wish I could of been more help
  • Barbara Finuff Barbara Finuff on Oct 24, 2015
    Yes, you can use old jam jars for making jam. You just need to make sure the jars and lids are sterilized and hot when you fill them. I have been using these kind of jars for years with success.
  • Lynne Lynne on Oct 26, 2015
    Years ago my mother in law gave me a bottling book that uses the microwave. Make jam, sterilise jars and lids, put in boiling jam, screw on lid tight, place in microwave (I usually place 4 - don't let them touch), Set timer for .1 minute and a small amount should leak and run down the sides - may need another 23 - 30 secs. Take from microwave, tighten lid and wipe down. When cooling you will hear pops of the lids being drawn down (concave). Stand upside down and check there is no air getting in i.e.. bubbles going up the side. I have done this for years and have opened a jar after 3 years to perfect product. Also use this method to bottle fruit but use within 12 months.