How to Vacuum Seal Almost Any Jar in Your Kitchen


Jars of pasta and flour

How would you like to reuse empty jars to store your dry goods such as rice and pasta? Here's how to vacuum-seal those jars for even longer storage life, so you can beef up your food storage!


How to vacuum seal empty jars


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.


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, and dry goods such as pasta, rice and flour.


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


Pasta and macaroni in recycled jars.



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For longer-term storage of dehydrated foods and dry goods such as pasta, popcorn kernels 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.


What foods can safely be stored in vacuum-sealed jars?


Dry goods, dehydrated foods, freeze-dried foods, spices and so on can be vacuumed sealed and stored on your pantry shelves.


For instance:


  • Dry goods such as rice, flour, pasta
  • Dehydrated foods, such as onion slices, peppers, mushrooms, and so on
  • 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
  • Rolled oats for oatmeal
  • Powdered milk
  • Wheat berries
  • Candy - buy candy on clearance after holidays and vacuum seal for later use


    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 that will never come out of the jar.


    Don't vacuum seal fresh or cooked foods. In other words, vacuum sealing a canning jar of sliced peaches or homemade soup is not safe. These items must be water bathed or pressure canned. Vacuum sealing dry goods such as pasta, rice, dehydrated foods and so on will extend the food's shelf life and is safe.


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


    How to vacuum seal jars with a FoodSaver


    Wait, wait. Don't go away yet - there are other methods, as well as alternatives to the FoodSaver brand that I've listed below, so keep reading!


    My favorite way to use almost any jar in the kitchen? Using a FoodSaver appliance to vacuum seal the jars.


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


    Note: The FoodSaver model that I have in my own kitchen has been discontinued. Evidently the accessory hose needs to be ordered separately now, so please make sure that your model has an "accessory port" like this FoodSaver model has. Not all of them do nowadays!



    A FoodSaver appliance, canning jar and canning jar sealing accessory.


    How to vacuum-seal a canning jar


    Canning jars are easy to seal 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 port and press the "Start" button on the vacuum sealer appliance.


    By the way, the hose attachment used to come with the FoodSaver unit. If yours has been misplaced or one wasn't included with your FoodSaver, you can order a new hose attachment here. Just be sure that the new FoodSaver you purchase has a "hose port" or "accessory port."


    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, especially if you're re-using a lid. Sometimes they have a small bend that's hard to see.
    • If you still have problems, use a different canning jar. There might be an imperceptible flaw in the rim of the jar.


    A small, empty jar that used to hold yeast, and the lid. The lid has a white rubber strip around the edge.



    How to vacuum seal non-canning jars


    But did you know you can even vacuum-seal most reused jars, that aren't canning 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 jar lids 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.


    A recycled jar with lid inside a FoodSaver canister attached to a FoodSaver appliance.


    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.


    Note: since this post was originally published, FoodSaver has discontinued the vacuum canisters. They can still be found but are quite expensive. However, they can sometimes be found at thrift stores and yard sales, and there are some YouTube videos about DIY vacuum chambers that I'm told also work.


    Also, the Avid Armor brand has a vacuum sealer with accessory hose and canisters. I haven't used this product but it looks promising.


    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 to your FoodSaver and 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, and that your machine has an "accessory port"). 


    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.


    A short FAQ about vacuum sealing


    • Vacuum-sealing is not meant to preserve fresh or cooked foods. It isn't a substitute for canning food in jars. However, 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. You might want to check YouTube for DIY vacuum chamber that are large enough.

    • 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



    • 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." However, removing the oxygen is a well-recommended way of extending the shelf life of your food.

      Purchase oxygen absorbers in small packages. For instance, 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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    Text: Long-term storage of dry goods using almost any jar in your kitchen."





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