“My grandma used Weck jars.” 

Actually, my grandma didn’t–she was one of the rare working moms in her day. She was an award-winning telephone operator with certificates for saving lives.

It was everyone else’s grandmother who canned. My mom canned when I was growing up, and my dad cans now that I’m an adult. We trade recipes and we both have way too many jars of beets on our shelves.

Mason…everyone’s favorite jarmason jars of beans

In my early days of canning, I saw these:

Classic mason jars.

They’re everywhere, they’re cheap, and they’re reusable. There’s nothing wrong with them. But as I dove deeper, I discovered there was a world of canning jars out there–French jars, Italian jars, jars that cost more than my car.

Finally, I had an epiphany. I discovered the Weck jar.

What is a Weck jar?

Five years ago you could be forgiven for asking this question. Not so much now, unless you’re a New York City transplant who moved out to homestead for a Discovery Channel show, you’ve seen Weck jars.

But you probably didn’t use them.  They look scary.

“What do I do with all these clips?” That was my first reaction. My second reaction was to buy more clips.

Weck jars are easier than you think.

Weck jars look intimidating–they come in three parts and have these metal spring clips which popped off and smacked me in the face the first time I tried to get them on. They’re hard to clip–a good thing because it keeps the food in the jar when you’re canning.  But, that gave me the feeling I was going to chip the glass on the lid every single time.

Man or woman up! Just do it. Try it once. Nothing bad will happen and you’ll fall in love. I had a full working stockpile of Weck jars for years–I used them for everything–except canning. They gave me twenty extra Martha Stewart points for chic but I was too afraid to can with them.

Until one day, I made an emergency batch of apple butter. Since I already had way to much I said this, “I’ll try the Weck jars.”

Sold! I’ll be using them a great deal more.

Four reasons you should try Weck jars today.

They’re reusable.  Every part, right down to the ring. If you treat the rubber rings right you can use them over and over. After a while they degrade, and I had one or two rip while I unsealed them, but for the most part they stay in tact as long as I wash them by hand and keep them out of the dishwasher.

They have standard lid sizes. There are three lid sizes–small, medium, and large. Jars come in many shapes and sizes, but one of those lid and ring sizes will fit. That makes it pretty easy to grab in and find the right ones.

Clips are reusable. After the jars are done processing, take them off and use them on the next batch. These, unlike rings, don’t degrade or break down so you will never, ever need more. The only risk is losing them. I avoid this by doing a quick rinse when I’m done, and I put them in the jar that holds them. It’s within reach of the sink so I don’t get lazy.

There are several cool shapes. Mold jars look like plain cylinders. Tulip jars have little decorative bulges. They look like a monk who drank too much beer. There are old-style milk and juice type shapes. There are really tall cylinders, too. From what I see on Instagram shots, the tulips are pretty popular. I like the plain ones. I can fit more in storage that way.

They stack. This is one of the major advantages. The “mold jar” line stacks so I can see the jars when I store them. Mason jars don’t stack. If I try to make the Poser Pyramid out of them, I end up smashing at least one later when I forget I promised myself I’d be careful when I grabbed into the cabinet.

They make you look like a real pioneer. This is the jar that came right off of the chuck wagon. Five years ago, Weck jars would’ve made everyone turn their head. They’re a bit more common now in the United States (they’ve always been standard in Europe) but they’re still rare enough that even if you’re a poser, you’ll look hard-core. If you’re already hard-core, they deliver the knock out punch every pantry needs.

But they cost more…

That’s true. Weck jars cost a bit more than mason jars–especially if you go to an upper-end kitchen store to buy them. These things aren’t in Walmart and Target. They’re in William Sonoma.

And… Illinois.

One of my best frugal tricks is this–I always go right to the source–for food, ingredients, and now jars. Don’t go to the “gringo cooks tacos aisle” for authentic Mexican food. You go to the Latino market. The food is fresh and half price compared to the giant supermarket full of cans.

Use the same logic for canning jars… who uses them the most? There are a lot of farmers in the midwest, and that’s where I got my Weck Jars. (And canner, too, but that’s another post).

Here’s a link. (Weckjars.com)

I don’t get any kickback from this, just the joy of knowing you look cooler than your friends holding your jar of apricot jam, and maybe, just maybe, you’re eating a little better this season than last.