Freezing in Glass {No More Broken Jars!}

I try to always have some frozen bone broth on hand in our freezer so that I’m never out should I want to make soup, use it to cook rice or beans, or need it in a recipe. It’s a real-foodie staple!

When it comes to freezing our broth, I prefer to use glass jars over plastic storage containers since glass won’t leach any chemicals into our food.

What I don’t prefer, but have had trouble with in the past, is seeing my jars break, crack, and shatter in the freezer. I’m especially heartbroken when one of my mason jars crack!

Simple tips for freezing in glass without breaking the jars

For the longest time I couldn’t understand why my jars kept breaking when I thought I was doing everything right. However, I recently learned some new tips that are helping keep my jars whole. 

After tweaking a few steps in my broth routine with a couple of these tips, I’m glad to say that my jars are coming out of the freezer unbroken and my heart is saved from the pain of lost mason jars (affiliate link). 

Simple Tips for Freezing in Glass

Cool Your Broth

I like to cool mine before ladling into the jars and completely cooling them before freezing.

I cool the broth before jarring it so that

  1. I don’t shock the jars, and
  2. I don’t burn myself in case I spill. Not that such a thing could ever happen in my kitchen.

Once the broth is in the jars, I refrigerate them overnight or through the day before setting them in the freezer.

Fill With Less Broth Than You Think

I think this has been my biggest mistake in the past.

I would leave 1-2 inches of space in the jars before freezing, and even though the broth wasn’t totally touching the lid, it seems that the jars were still too full. Most of them would break and crack.

Leaving the jars closer to 2/3 of the way full has really helped.

Especially if you are using jars with shoulders, this tip is crucial. Anytime I use a jar with shoulders, I make sure to leave the broth about 2 inches below the shoulders. As the broth freezes and rises, it doesn’t put pressure on the shoulders of the jar and crack it.

Learn a few quick tips that prevent your jars from breaking in the freezer

Use Wide Mouth Mason Jars

Wide mouth jars really are the best for freezing broth. Since they lack the usual shoulders that most jars have, the jar isn’t put under pressure when the broth freezes and expands.  I don’t have many of these, but I do reach for them first when I go to freeze broth.

Someone even told me that they stick warm broth right in the freezer in wide mouth jars with nary a glass casualty.

Cap Loosely

I have noticed that when I tightly cap my jars before freezing, they are more prone to breakage. When I just loosely place the lid on until the broth is totally frozen, the jars hold up better.

Once it is all frozen, then I’ll tighten the caps if I remember. And of course, I always remember to do that. Right.

Leave Space Between Jars in the Freezer

When I first put the jars in the freezer, I like to leave a little bit of space between them so that their sides aren’t touching. That’s also seemed to help prevent breakage.

There are great tips in the comments section, so be sure to read through them to get more ideas!

And if you enjoyed the tips here, be sure to join me on Pinterest to find more smart ideas for your home, kitchen, garden, and family!

Kristen Smith @ Smithspirations

Do you have any tips for freezing in glass? I’d love to hear them!

Comments

  1. nice! i knew most of the tips, but i rarely freeze in glass (never have enough jars – and they take up more freezer space – or don’t they???) cooled broth in plastic bags (which i use only because they seem to use the least space) i can push 99% of the air out and freeze them flat and stack them once frozen
    too bad we cannot have glass bags LOL

  2. Great tips! I also thaw them slower by placing them in the fridge to thaw. Haven’t had another one crack since doing that. ;)

  3. Thanks for this info. I too,have had many broken jars even though I thought I was leaving plenty of head space. Hoping to have more success with the next batch of broth and jars.

  4. Maria Magoulas says:

    I have never thought to freeze in canning jars! <3 it!

  5. I use jars for my broth also, but I put them in the freezer without the lid for a day. I have not lost any jars this way.

    • Good tip, Denise! Seems to go right along with the idea of loosely settling the lid on the jar. Glad you read & shared your tip!

  6. On all the Ball jar boxes, it will tell you which jars are safe to freeze in. Any jar with straight sides. So the pint, 1/2 pint, jelly jars, and the new 1-1/2 pint are all safe. I learned this after a few explosions in the freezer also. Hope this helps. Oh yeah,I also use the plastic lids, they are wonderful, and as long as you fill the jar to the freezer line, the contents never touch the plastic.

    • I almost always get my jars second-hand, so I’ve never known that about Ball boxes! Good to know!
      Thanks for reading and sharing your tip today!

  7. I buy miracle whip in the large size containers. I am wondering if freezing chopped peppers or onions would be okay to freeze in ? Many alerts regarding plastics being unsafe. Anyone know if the plastic jar would be safe to freeze in?

    • I do still freeze in plastic, Margie. It’s not my favorite, but so long as whatever I’m freezing isn’t warm when I put it in the bag or container, I don’t worry too much. For example, all of my frozen fruits and veggies from the summer go into plastic freezer bags. For broth, I like the glass better since I never have the broth fully chilled before putting into containers. I personally think reusing the plastic jars for veggies would be fine. Hope that helps!

  8. I’ve tried and failed many times to freeze broth in canning jars. Our freezer is a chest freezer and I think in rummaging around looking for that pkg of ground meat the jars get just a tiny ‘plink’ and in their frozen state they’ve shattered – glass scattered throughout the contents of a chest freezer is a bad thing indeed. I’ve been freezing broth in plastic peanut butter jars has eliminated that but I *H-A-T-E* plastic! I’m going to give it another go – thanks for the tips!

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

    • Ooo, that would be a challenge! I wouldn’t blame you for compromising with plastic in this case, but if the tips help you a little, that would be great, too!

  9. I have had mostly good luck with freezing bone broth in glass jars, but you have given me a few more things to try and hopefully none will break now. I have been reusing wide mouth jars that products such as ghee come in, and losing one now and then is not a problem but losing my broth IS a problem — thank you!

  10. Yes the wide mouth jars or jars with no shoulders are the ones you can freeze in without worrying about them breaking.

  11. I have recently gone crazy over Mason Jars. I started out using them as drinking glasses since they have the measurements on them and are so useful for everything. Now I use them to put gifts (homemade products) in and kitchen storage for everything from the freezer to leftovers. No more scary plastic leachings.

  12. always fill the jars under the part of glass that starts to curve in . if you put it above that line , as the liquid expands it puts pressure on the corners of the jar and cracks it .

  13. when putting glass jars in chest freezer, contain them together in a wire or plastic basket, no breaking ,easier to get out.

  14. If you do have a jar break in the freezer don’t throw it out. Cut a leg from an unused pair of panty hose and put the jar inside it. Set this in a bowl and let it thaw. No worries over glass being in your beautiful broth:)

    • This is JUST what I was looking for! Thanks! My hubby thought of coffee filters and then we figured they’d be a bit too fine for broth. Two quarts saved! Thanks, Helen!

    • Wow. The reason I googled this and found this site is because of the two jars I just lost in the freezer. Now I know its because of the shoulders although this never happened to me before and maybe tight lids. If I had know about the panty hose, I could have saved my precious bone broth.
      Thank you so much Helen

  15. Just don’t put the lids on at all until the contents have frozen solid, they will never break if you do that. And yes, some kind of protection or cushioning around the frozen jars is a good idea. Paper bags, leftover bubble wrap, cardboard, etc.

    • I’ve actually done that and still had them break, Denise. Sadly, it was from filling them above the 2/3 or 3/4 full mark. That broth really expands in the freezer!

  16. I called the Ball company and they said something about squarish sides vs. round sides…I don’t even remember which one it is now because I tried it the way they said and they still cracked too. I’ll have to try your methods :)

    • Oh no, Kara! I hope something here gives you better results. I’ve learned some more ideas from what readers have shared, too!

  17. Greta post. I freeze everything in glass as well. I did a blog post on this please check it out on http://www.nzecochick.com/2013/03/glass-storage-in-freezer.html Biggest tips are definitely don’t overfill the jars and also don’t put the ids on until they are frozen solid. Mx

  18. I ditched the plastic a couple of years ago and started using my canning jars to freeze. Like you, there was a learning curve, and I had a few broken jars at first. I freeze everything in jars now.

  19. I always can my broth, so don’t have to thaw to use.

  20. Yep definitely learned the hard way too!! My husband thought I was out of my mind when I wanted to try and salvage brunswick stew (the BEST brunswick stew, mind you) that was in a jar that had broken. Not going to let that happen again!

  21. I have been canning mine in the hot water bath or pressure canner. Its really easy and then it doesnt take up any freezer space and its ready to go when I need it for a recipe. I also freeze some into ice cubes, then put all the cubes in a freezer bag. When I make my own cream of soup, I just pop a couple in there while they are cooking, adds great flavor and health benefits!

    • Pressure canners can be a great solution for broth, as well as the ice cube trays! That’s a tip I’ve heard from some other blogging friends, too, so I’m glad you mentioned it.

      One question though… I’ve always read that broth should only be done in a pressure canner since it is not acidic for hot water canning. Do you do something different with your broth to make it safe to do in water bath?

  22. These are good ideas. I used to freeze in jars all of the time, but after a couple of broken jars, I quit. Maybe I will try again keeping your tips in mind! ;)

    • I haven’t had any break since being more careful with these ideas! Another commenter suggested freezing in ice cube trays, which would work great for doing just a little bit. Good luck!

  23. I have heard that as long as you keep the liquid below the “shoulders” of the jar- you will be fine. Which is exactly what you did in the second photo.

    • I’ve found that I have to be sure the *frozen* broth doesn’t hit the shoulders of the jar. I used to fill them up to the shoulders, then freeze, and end up with broken jars since the broth would expand up so far. I was so confused as to why that was happening! So it’s definitely all about being mindful of where the broth will freeze to on the jar.

  24. Hi there: I’m a novice at making my own broth. Made my first batch of bone broth a few days ago and it turned out perfect! I was thrilled! So I cooled it, put it in a mason jar and instinctively didn’t fill it to the brim before storing it in the freezer. Nevertheless, the jar cracked – a nice clean single crack all the way from top to bottom. Determined to save my broth, I did some research and came across a website with very interesting information. It claims that, aside from cooling the broth and leaving space in the jar, you also need to use “straight” -sided mason jars rather than those with “shoulders”. Apparently, this bottle-neck shape figures in to the expansion-explosion equation – not sure exactly how but they seem to really know their stuff. So there you have it. This may well be the missing key to the perfect freeze when using mason jars. And thank you so much for the tip on saving my broth by using an old stocking (LOL!). Although I don’t believe I’ll tell anyone I strained the soup through my pantyhose to get the glass shards out:-)). That’ll be our little secret. Cheers and happy cooking! Mia

    • Hi Mia! Yes, something with the broth freezing anywhere near the shoulders makes them break. If I ever use a jar that has shoulders when I’m going to freeze broth, I always leave lots of room so that when the broth expands, it doesn’t go above the shoulders. The wide mouth masons then allow you to put more broth in the jars, which is nice.

      I’ll keep the stocking a secret! ;)

      Thanks for visiting!

  25. Hi.
    I’ve tried all of these and more. I put my glass of (usually) water or tea in the fridge first then after it is really cold move to the freezer & it still breaks. I use to do it all the time but it seems this year & last I have went through all my glass jars due to breakage. I’m so disappointed. I hate watered down tea so I usually fill a glass about half full with no lid and place in the freezer at night before I go to bed. When I get up in the morning before I leave I fill the rest of the glass with tea so it stays colder longer. Same with my water. I’m down to my lat 3 mason jars!!!!!! Any ideas or suggestions???

    • That’s no fun, Jen! Have you tried using the wide mouth jars?
      Another idea to consider would be to put your tea in ice cube trays, then once they freeze, put those in a freezer bag. I’ve done that with leftover coffee for my iced coffee drinks!

      • Hi Kristen,
        Yes Ive used wide mouth and regular mouth jars. I could do the ice cube thing it’s just that it doesn’t stay cold as long as if you have 1 big cube of ice. I turn the glass on its side a little if I have the room, thought that would help, no. Another thing is why is it just sometimes & not all the time? That’s what confuses me the most. I don’t fill it up all the way, just about half or a little more, no lid, I’m baffled and frustrated with this. LOL

        • Hi Jen!
          You know, I’ll be honest. I’m not sure what else to try! I’m sorry! The best thing that I changed was filling them up much lower than I thought I could. That’s about all I have for you!
          I definitely get the frustration. When I was losing so many jars from breaking, it was driving me nuts! I hope you are able to find a solution that works for you!

  26. I have been researching this and another tip that I am going to use — besides filling the quart-sized wide mouth mason jars just about 2/3-3/4 full and putting in the lower frig a couple hours before putting in the freezer is that I am going to put the entire mason jar (with a loose lid) inside a freezer bag before putting it in the freezer. That way if it cracks at least I won’t have a mess to clean up in the freezer!

    Does anyone know of brands that sell freeze-safe glass containers?

  27. A good use for old socks is to cut the leg part off and use that for sleeves for jars in the freezer (or out for that matter) If the jars bump together in the freezer they are nicely padded and don’t break. :)

    This has previously been a recommendation for people who have food in jars in locations that tend to be prone to earth shakes. This and putting strapping of some sort across the front of shelves on which the jars are stored to prevent leaping jars and the loss of all that hard work.

  28. My problem is that the bottles crack as I keep them out to thaw. No problem while they r in the freezer. I set them out in the sink to thaw n get cracked glass. Then I set them in a waterbath of cold water n they crack. I’ve lost precious contents n am wondering what to do…

    • Hmm… I’ve been thinking about your problem, Emm, and I’ll be honest. I’m not sure what that would be happening! I’ve never had trouble with that unless it’s been a jar that was already cracked before hand. I’m sorry I can’t be of much help! I do hope you are able to find the problem. That would be rather disappointing!

    • I have a couple of thoughts here. Possibly thawing more slowly in the fridge would help. I’d set the jar in a bowl just in case. Of course, unlike me, you’d have to plan ahead. ;)

      The other thought is taking the lid off or loosening it a good bit thus allowing the expanding air to escape as it warms. This might put less pressure on the jar.

  29. Hello Kristen,
    Oh my goodness, thank you for this information! I am going to give a try the next time I make bone broth. Over the week-end, my family and I made a huge batch of bone broth, one for us and one for our dog (no onions in his). For my dog, I made a smaller pot and I put those in half quart jar in the freezer. For us, we had 10 quart-size jars. Two days after putting them in the freezer, none of the dog’s jars are broken and ALL OF OUR jars are broken. Not one survived! *sigh* I do not fill them past the shoulder. I can’t understand why they all broke. I am going to put your suggestions in action and hope that the next time we will many less causalities.
    Thanks, again, for your post!

  30. I freeze glass jars all the time and have never had one break. I use ones without shoulders and leave an inch of headroom for a pint with liquid (less for a half-pint, less if it has solids like a hearty soup) Also I’m slow enough I couldn’t get hot broth into the freezer if I tried. I use both plastic & metal lids with no trouble.

    If using jars with shoulders you need to leave space below the shoulder because the expansion will raise the water level. Solids would be less risky with a shoulder. I’ve also frozen shoulder jars on their side, to reduce the depth of the water.

    • Yes, I’ve definitely learned that wide mouth jars are the way to go! I always reach for those first. My supply of them is pretty low, so I still end up using regular jars with shoulders and filling them up halfway most often.

  31. Should I chance eating my bone broth from a broken ball canning jar? The jar broke in the freezer and I hate to waste all of the broth. I might be able to strain it after it thaws to make sure there are no shards. It looks like it broke cleanly. What have you done when your jars have broken?

    • My guess is that a lot of people would say to throw it out, but I’ll be honest. I strain mine through a thick kitchen towel if the glass doesn’t look shattered. We haven’t had a problem doing that. I don’t really know how easily any glass could go through it, but if there were teeny pieces broken, I’d probably skip that. I know what you mean about not wanting to get rid of that broth!

  32. Heather Mason says:

    Mason jars are the best! Something about the name. . ;)

  33. I knew none of these tips, but still managed to follow them all by – still cracked. I was not freezing my broth at all. Then one day I wanted to extend the life of my last jar because I was going out of town. It had already been in the refrigerator, was not completely full, was a wide-mouth Mason jar, and yet it still cracked – my first time ever freezing broth. I will try again, but I was disheartened mostly because of the loss of all that good broth – I still drank it though I strained it a couple of times first. Will try with loose lid next time – thanks!

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