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Half Gallon Canning Jars - Safety Issues and Where to Get the Jars

Home Canning in Half-Gallon Canning Jars

The large half gallon (64 ounce) canning jars were popular a couple of generations ago, especially for pickles, but have largely disappeared.  Find out why, when they are safe to use, when it is dangerous to use them, and where to get half gallon canning jars.

What is the correct processing time for canning in half gallon canning jars?

This is a very common question, since processing times in water bath and pressure canners usually stops at quart size jars. The reason no one publishes a processing time for that size jar is the food scientists have tested them and found them to be generally unsafe. Highly acid foods that are very liquid (fruit juices) seems to be the one use considered safe. The jars are simply too big to ensure adequate and uniform heat penetration.

Here's what the USDA's National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia says about canning in half gallon jars:

What can I process in half-gallon canning jars?

At least one canning jar manufacturer is selling half-gallon canning jars. That manufacturer has a printed note on the top that says half-gallonjars are only used for some highly acidic foods in a boiling water canner, with instructions to call a toll-free number for the instructions. When we last called, the only choices are grape juice and apple juice, as we also recommend.

The only processes that USDA, the National Center for Home Food Preservation and the University of Georgia have to recommend for half-gallon jars are for very acidic fruit juices (and juice only):
 Apple Juice and Grape Juice. This process time is not to be used for tomato juice, for example.

There are no other 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 extended by any formula to a larger jar. 

We are aware that there are historical recommendations for canning foods in half-gallon jars. However, these are not currently accepted or endorsed by the USDA, Cooperative Extension System or U.S. manufacturers of home canning jars. 

Can I still get half gallon canning jars?

Yes, here are some reliable sources: