Canning in half gallon containers

Canning season is upon us and we receive many calls each year about canning safely. I don’t very often run across half gallon jars but I happened to just this last weekend. Although it is possible to can something in smaller jars using the same amount of time as the next size larger jar it is not true in reverse. There are no formulas for extending the processing time for a larger jar.

The only processes that USDA, National Center for Home Food Preservation, and University of Georgia have to recommend for half gallon jars are for very acidic fruit juices. Those would be apple juice and grape juice and ONLY the juice is allowed. There are no research-tested boiling water processes for other foods for jars larger than those published with recipes.

I am including the recipes for apple juice and grape juice in case you are interested in canning those. Please remember those are the ONLY two things that can be safely canned in half gallon jars. There are no tested recipes for other juices.

Please call AnswerLine if you have any questions about canning safely!

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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11 thoughts on “Canning in half gallon containers

  1. Mike, all USDA approved, research-based, tested recipes use quart jars for fruit pie fillings. Further, if you thicken, you should use Clear Jel rather than flour or cornstarch–see on pie fillings from the National CEnter for Home Food Preservation. You can also find specific directions for various pie fillings at NCHFP.

  2. Hi Sandie, one of the few ways that half gallon jars can be used is with juice. Make sure that your canner can adequately accommodate the jars and still allow 1 inches of water above the top.

  3. Can I pressure can bone broth in half gallon jars? I was told I couldn’t, only water and juice.

  4. Hi Audrey, Thank you for reaching out to AnswerLine. Half-gallon sized canning jars are available, but they are not recommended for canning many foods. In fact, the only products recommended by manufacturers is apple juice and grape juice and ONLY in a boiling water bath canner. Further, as you note, there are no research-tested processes for half-gallon jars. Boiling water processes for other foods for jars larger than those published with recipes (usually pints and/or quarts) cannot be safely extended by any formula to a larger jar even though you may find formulas for such online. Historical canning resources may reference the use of half-gallon jars. However, these are not currently accepted or endorsed by the USDA, Cooperative Extension, or U.S. canning jar manufacturers. Lastly, it may not be practical to generate funds for any testing agencies, including manufacturers, to test recipes for half-gallon jars as the most common jars used by consumers are pints and quarts. Further, there are very few canners that can sufficiently hold half gallon jars.

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