How to Vacuum Seal Almost Any Jar in Your Kitchen

How to vacuum-seal almost any jar in your kitchen.

I have a hard time throwing out jars.

They are the perfect container for dry goods, for leftovers in the refrigerator, and of course for liquids. I'll buy a product in a glass jar before buying a similar product in a can or plastic jar.

Glass jars can be reused; cans cannot, and I prefer not to reuse plastic, so cans and plastic are both "garbage" that need to be disposed of.

And when your homestead doesn't come with curbside garbage pickup every week and recycling is pretty much unheard of in your neck of the woods, disposing of things is difficult.

In my childhood years, we spent summers walking along the edge of the 4-lane highway with a wagon, picking up glass bottles. When returned to the corner grocery store, we'd get 5¢ per bottle, enough to keep us in Pepsi and candy. But in this day and age of recycling awareness, glass isn't even recycled anymore.

So my kitchen is filled with jars: canning jars as well as reused jars from spaghetti sauce, mayonnaise jars, salsa jars and more.

Gallon-sized jars make great canisters for various flours and sugar. Half-gallon jars and smaller hold pasta and rice and other dry goods in my kitchen.

Reused jars from pasta sauce, salsa and so on are great for storing dehydrated foods such as chopped onions, peppers and sliced mushrooms.

There are several methods of vacuum sealing jars in this post, so keep reading to find one that works best for you!

How to vacuum-seal almost any jar in your kitchen.

This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.

For longer-term storage of dehydrated foods and dry goods such as pasta and rice, you can vacuum-seal reused jars to ensure freshness. Vacuum-sealing prolongs foods' storage life by eliminating oxygen that breaks down food over time.

The secret to using almost any jar in the kitchen? Using a FoodSaver appliance to vacuum seal the jars. (The model I have in my kitchen has been discontinued. I've updated the link to a current model. Evidently the accessory hose needs to be ordered separately now. Please note that I do not have this particular model.)

You can use canning (Mason) jars, but you can also re-use those spaghetti sauce and salsa jars too.

What can you store in vacuum-sealed jars?

Any food that you don't use often is a good candidate for vacuum-sealing, which will lengthen its storage life. If you buy a product in bulk, such as rice or popcorn, you can transfer a small amount to a smaller jar for convenient use and store the rest in larger jars that are vacuum-sealed.

For instance:

  • Dry goods such as rice, popcorn, pasta
  • Dehydrated foods
  • Freeze dried foods - when you open a #10 can, put the bulk of the product in large jars and vacuum-seal, and put a smaller amount in a jar for daily use
  • Bulk spices
  • Oatmeal
  • Powdered milk
  • Candy - buy candy on clearance after holidays and vacuum seal for later use

    How to vacuum-seal almost any jar in your kitchen.

    How to vacuum-seal a canning jar

    Canning jars are sealed with the FoodSaver canning jar attachment. To use it, just place the flat lid on top of the jar - you don't need the ring to hold the lid on - then set the canning jar vacuum seal attachment on top, connect it to the hose attachment and press the "Start" button on the vacuum sealer appliance. (The hose attachment comes with the FoodSaver unit. If yours has been misplaced, you can order a new hose attachment here.)

    There are two different canning jar sealers, one for regular mouth jars and one for the wide mouth jars, so be sure to get the one that fits the jar size you use most. Or get both.
    If the lid just won't seal, try these trouble-shooting tips:
    • Use two lids. I know, that sounds crazy. But it often works. Place the two lids, one on top of the other, on top of the jar and use the canning jar vacuum seal attachment as directed. When it's finished sucking out the air, remove the attachment. The top canning lid will come off, but the other will have sealed to the jar.
    • Or try a different lid.
    • If you still have problems, use a different canning jar. There might be an imperceptible dip in the rim of the jar.

    How to vacuum-seal almost any jar in your kitchen.

    How to vacuum seal non-canning jars

    But did you know you can even vacuum-seal most reused jars? It requires a different method but it's just as simple. As long as the jar lid has a "rubber" ring inside, it can be vacuum-sealed. In the photo above, you can see the white ring inside the lid from this empty jar of yeast.

    That rubber ring is the secret!
    Some jars have a green ring, or a red ring. The color doesn't matter, as long as it has this rubber-like substance inside the lid.

    How to vacuum-seal jars.

    To seal this kind of jar, you'll need a FoodSaver vacuum canister set. The canisters come in a set of three, in various sizes.

    Just set the lid on the jar, screw it on lightly (not tightened all the way) and place it inside one of the canisters. I choose the canister closest in size to the jar so there is less air to suck out.
    Attach the hose attachment that comes with your FoodSaver to the top of the canister. (This hose attachment is no longer included with a new FoodSaver appliance. They can be ordered separately - be sure you order the one that will fit your machine). Then push the "Start" button. The vacuum sealer sucks the air from inside the jar and from inside the canister too.

    When it's finished the unit will turn off. Just remove the hose attachment, press the button on top of the canister and open it. The jar inside is now sealed.

    The last step is to label your jars; don't depend on your memory. Hot peppers can look identical to sweet peppers, and chopped red peppers look amazingly like chopped carrots. Trust me on that.

    How to vacuum seal bottles and jars with plastic lids

    You can't. I'm sorry.

    Instead, use those jars with plastic lids to hold leftovers in the refrigerator. Soy sauce bottles with long necks and plastic caps make nice bud vases for flowers from your garden, or you can use them to hold vinegar, which doesn't need to be canned or preserved.

    (If you'd like to try making your own vinegar for just pennies, get a free copy of my ebook by subscribing to The Acorn, my weekly-ish newsletter.)

    What NOT to vacuum seal

    Don't vacuum seal [or use an oxygen absorber] to preserve sugar or brown sugar. You'll end up with a solid brick of sugar.

    Store your labeled, vacuum-sealed jars in a cool, dark place for maximum storage life.

    A short FAQ

    • Vacuum-sealing is not meant to preserve fresh or cooked foods. It isn't a substitute for canning food in jars. It's a great way to extend the shelf life of dry foods (pasta, rice, dehydrated foods, etc.).

    • Can you vacuum seal gallon-sized jars? You'd need a canister that's large enough to hold a gallon-sized jar in order to use this method, and unfortunately I don't know of one that big. 

    • Clean and sterilize your jars before using them for storage. I sterilize mine by running them through the dishwasher and a heated dry cycle. Of course the jars must be completely dry inside before placing your dry goods inside. 

    Alternative methods of creating a vacuum seal in jars

    • If you don't have a FoodSaver unit, you can use a Pump N Seal hand pump to manually remove the air from your jars.

    • Or you can add oxygen absorbers to your jar instead. These will absorb the oxygen inside the jar. Please note that this won't really create a vacuum seal - it will absorb the oxygen but not the air inside the jar. However, removing the oxygen is a well-recommended way of extending the shelf life of your food.

      Purchase oxygen absorbers in small packages. Some packages of 100 will have smaller bags of ten absorbers inside. This is important unless you are sealing 100 jars or bags at a time! As soon as you open that package, the absorbers will begin working, whether they are in jars or not. 

      So assemble your dry goods in their jars and have the lids ready to go, then drop in the absorbers and seal them up.

    A package of oxygen absorbers

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    The following images contain affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.

    Related posts:
    How to Find and Buy Used Canning Jars

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