Where to Get Canning Jars in New York City

by autumn on May 7, 2011

New York City is prone to dishing out those sort of days when everything feels much harder than it should. Feel free to disagree with me here, but I have two words for you: G train. I can do wild goose chases. As a gluten-free person in NYC, I expect to go to three different Whole Foods (Tribeca, Bowery, Union Square, in that order) before finding teff flour. I can give you directions to that grocery store on Canal Street where you can always get sweet rice flour, but finding canning jars for a reasonable price in NYC is a different beast altogether.

I had been stewing over getting jars for the upcoming season for a while. Then, last week on Facebook I posted something about trying to map out my 2011-12 canning jar needs. I got a bunch of great suggestions, which led to more stewing, more research, some damn good luck, and (finally!) an epiphany. In order of how loud you’ll shout “strawberry jam!” when you read them, I give you my suggestions for getting canning jars without spending way too much (or forking it over when you’re in a pinch) in New York City. (For those of you who don’t live in NYC and are wondering what all of the fuss is about, a flat of half-pint jars runs as much as $18 in the few places where you can find them.)

1) Ace Hardware: I’m leading with the epiphany here and trusting that you can handle it. In the past, the most affordable option has proved to be ordering online from mid-western superstore Meijer (thanks Kate!) and trying to be as strategic as possible, ie: doing a little planning and trying to place as few orders as possible to cut down on the sizable shipping costs. I found their prices on jars are reasonable, but if I didn’t consolidate orders as much as possible, I felt like I wasn’t being as frugal as I could.

Then everything changed. Last week, I learned that Ace Hardware Online offers free shipping to your local store. Basically, you place the order online and pay real-america prices for a flat of jars, and pick them up at an Ace Hardware of your choice. I’m lucky, there’s a great one right by my work in the West Village, but there’s quite a few around. Since there’s no shipping cost, I placed a small order, just for the jars that I needed most immediately and will probably place another one in a couple months. While you’re certainly not supporting the local Ace by ordering online, I’m totally going to look for wide-mouth jar lids while I’m picking up my order.

2) Asking Around: People are always moving. Being on a quest for cheap jars is a little like looking for an apartment. And if there’s anything New Yorkers are good at it’s being aggressive about real estate. Make sure people know you’re looking. Share your plight with others. I shared my woes on Facebook and within an hour a friend of mine who’s moving in a few months had offered to sell me all of her jars for next to nothing. Really.

3) Tribeca Whole Foods: I’m letting you in on my secret spot here, but during last season I got a flat of half-pint jars here for around $10. This is hands-down the cheapest I’ve seen them in any store in any borough. Again, feel free to call me out on this. The caveat is, last time I was there they were out, but I’m guessing that they’ll re-stock as the season gears up again.

4) Your  neighborhood hardware store: I’ve been pleasantly surprised in the past by my local hardware store. By my old apartment in Astoria, the hardware store right around the corner always had lids (I can’t tell you how many times this came in handy) and catered to their tomato sauce demographic by stocking quart jars in the summer. Their prices were relatively reasonable and I’ve heard rumors that stores will even order jars for you, although I’ve never done this myself.

5) Your local specialty store: I’m talking to you, Brooklyn Kitchen. At first, it seems off-the-charts expensive, but I can’t fault them for charging what they do. You heard my spiel about planning, shipping costs, etc. After you factor in all this and the cost of convenience,  their price is not unreasonable. Plus, you’re supporting someone local. When I really want jars fast, I throw down the cash at Brooklyn Kitchen and pay too much for something for a good reason. I’ll also admit to buying a single quart jar at Fish’s Eddy when I really wanted to make some kimchi and couldn’t bear to wait for an online jar order. These aren’t frugal options, but they are reliable.

I didn’t include Freecycle/Craigslist here because I haven’t personally had success getting jars from there, but please pipe up in the comments if you have. You should also check out this post from Marisa over at Food in Jars about where to buy jars for canning. It’s not NYC-centric, but could be useful if you’re traveling outside the city this summer and want to bring some cheap jars back with you (something I always try to do). Please do share in the comments about where you’ve had success getting jars.

About 

Autumn Giles is the creator of Autumn Makes & Does and the co-host of the Alphabet Soup Podcast.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 yossy_apt2bbakingco May 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I am totally shocked at the cost every time I go to buy jars in NYC, but now that I know about ACE I will totally order from them and pick up at my local store.

I’ve had good luck buying jars at Bowery Kitchen Supply in Chelsea Market too.

Happy Canning Everyone!

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2 autumn May 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Thanks! Good point about Bowery Kitchen Supply. They have the nice 1/2 gallon size that I often use for storing stuff, which can be harder to find.

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3 abby May 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm

This is so amazing – Thank you for the Ace Hardware tip!!

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4 Celia May 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Thanks so much for the hardware store tip! I always blanch when I see the prices for flats at BK Kitchen; I’m willing to shell out for many of their products…but just can’t do it for Ball jars…

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5 Seattle May 8, 2011 at 1:37 am

I got a whole car load of jars from Freecycle couple of years back. They ended up being in a shed in total disarray but cleaned them up and have boxes of jars. I’ve posted a few times on Freecycle but usually less than 6 jars and cost more to drive there than buying new ones. I get my 1/2 gal jars from Ace. Ace outlet out of NY I find some good deals on canning stuff. Happy canning.

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6 tigress May 8, 2011 at 10:35 am

hi autumn!
another thing to keep in mind for new yorkers – if you ever take a weekend car trip, say to hudson valley area or the berkshires, or connecticut, stop in any local hardware store. chances are they will have them!

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7 autumn May 8, 2011 at 11:40 am

good tip, tigress. thanks!

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8 AJ Simone May 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Great suggestions. I know I’ve done my fair share of purchasing jars from Fishes Eddy, since they are very close to my office, but the prices are a little up there.

I’m curious, what hardware store in Astoria? I live in the Ditmars area and find that the average price for a half pint jar in the hood is around $1.29 without tax.

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9 autumn May 8, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Hey AJ,
Forget the name, but it’s just south of 28th street on steinway, east side of the street. They only stocked quart jars and I never asked them about ordering. I actually only ever bought lids there, but it was so nice to have that option in the neighborhood. I live in sunnyside now, but have a special place in my heart for astoria :)

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10 autumn May 8, 2011 at 7:06 pm

28th AVE! Not street.

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11 Lindsay May 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm

My local hardware store (23rd Street Hardware on 23rd Street between 3rd and Park) carries a really good selection of jars and lids. They have several different sized and a few different styles and have offered to special order stuff for me if I want something different. The prices are much better than the specialty kitchen stores. The jars are kind of hard to find, but they’ll point you in the right direction if you ask.

I stocked up last summer, so I won’t be buying as much this year. Someone else please go buy a lot so they don’t stop carrying them!

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12 autumn May 13, 2011 at 10:00 am

Thanks Lindsay!

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13 M.McGreal May 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Hey! What a great find this website of yours is! I am having the same dilemma, Fish Eddy’s is very expensive but the only place I’ve found them anywhere in the city, The Ace recommendation is fantastic and if I may I would add Goodmans.net to you list, I just placed an order with them last week and they have the cheapest jars I could find anywhere…
Keep it up!

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14 autumn May 13, 2011 at 9:59 am

Thanks so much. And I’ve never heard of goodman’s, so thanks for the rec!

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15 Aimee May 25, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I am SO excited to have found this post and your fabulous blog! This ACE hardware tip is a major coup – thanks for sharing it!

I’ve found pint bell jars at my local discount store in south park slope for 99 cents apiece…I’m going to ask how much they would charge me to order cases in various sizes…the convenience of not having to pay shipping OR car service costs (or carry a case or two home on the train or bus) just might be worth it…they are literally right around the corner. Nice folks and I’ve already told them I’ll be bringing them flowers and tomatoes this summer, so here’s hoping. If not, ACE hardware, I’m ordering to my local store!

Happy canning (and candle-lantern making!)

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16 Melisa June 3, 2011 at 1:53 am

How about thrift stores? I find the canning jars generally overpriced at the Goodwill and such but they might be reasonable by NYC standards. If you are looking to spend some money to save some money, there are reusable lids which have the added advantage of not getting bpa in your food like throwaway lids: http://www.reusablecanninglids.com/ Your food is safe and you can use the lids forever.

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17 Kristen » gezellig-girl.com June 8, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I have a new one to add to your list: Target! [At least, the Target that's in downtown Brooklyn, anyway.] Yesterday, they had an entire endcap of jars, pectin, other… stuff that I didn’t really know what it was for, but it was there.

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18 Morgan June 26, 2011 at 4:28 am

Hey! I just found this blog and it has been super helpful as I dive deeper into the wonderful world of homesteading in the big apple! Question about canning…I have had no problem finding jars at my local hardware store on the upper west side, but cannot for the life of me find pectin! Any tips??

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19 autumn June 27, 2011 at 10:30 am

Hi Morgan,

I am so happy that you found some useful stuff around here. As for pectin, there are different kinds and if you’re using a recipe and it calls for a specific kind, you shouldn’t sub. That said, Pomona’s is definitely most widely available and comes with it’s own recipes. If you’re on the UWS try Whole Foods. It’s usually kept in the baking aisle and comes in a little blue box. For other types of pectin, I have had to order them online.

Thanks again!

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20 Stephanie August 16, 2011 at 4:09 am

There is a hardware store (not the kitchenware store across the street) on 7th ave in Park Slope (I think the cross street is 2nd St) . They always had the prepacked (how many is that… a dozen? more?) flats of regular and wide mouth jars. 1/2 pints, pints and quarts for on averag $14 – which always seemed fair to me and way better than buying them individually as you will sometimes find them. However I wasn’t able to find spare lids there. I think the place across the way did, plus variety (pretty jars for jams/jellies and 1/2 gallons). I will say I was able to find both a canning rack and magnetic lid lifter at the kitchen supply place at the Chelsea Markets which are things I haven’t found easily anywhere else. That said, for other things the other kitchen supply places on the bowery are better price wise.

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21 Jaime October 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Michael’s crafts also sells single mason jars… I cannot remember the price offhand but around a dollar. Sometimes their glassware also goes on sale, so watch for that. There is one on the UWS right near Whole Foods/Home Goods.

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22 Gloria November 18, 2011 at 9:02 am

Gathering enough jars in various useful shapes and sizes to stock a pantry does take time and dogged determination. Thing is, here in the UK they really DO cost an arm and a leg! A bog-standard Kilner jar pint size costs around £2. Yep, that’s for just a single jar! So think yourselves lucky. Believe me, wrangling over whether to give a jar away, filled with canned delights, when perhaps you will never see the jar returned, really creates food for thought.

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23 Patti June 6, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I googled this while out on the streets of NYC (I was around 4th Ave and 10th St) after going to Kmart and not finding any mason jars. I then headed straight to the closest Ace Hardware (130 4th Ave) but sadly they told me they had no mason jars but to check Surprise Surprise on 3rd Ave and 12th St. Luckily Surprise Surprise had lots of Mason Jars. Prices ranged from $1.50 – $2.99. I thought that was reasonable. They also told me they sell them by the box which I think ends up being a small savings for those who need plenty of them. I only needed 5. Just posting this so maybe someone else in that area might need them and see this and not walk around like I did and waste their time.

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24 Dana July 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm

There are mason jars for sale at Jack’s 99 cent store on East 39th St between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue. They are available in various sizes, large quantities and all of them are for sale at $0.99.

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25 Dana July 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I forgot to mention that I was visited the store yesterday after work and there a ton of them in stock so I am very confident that they will still be there today.

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26 Carol July 10, 2012 at 10:55 pm

I work at the Home Depot on 23rd Street, we started carring jars in various sizes, extra lids and the additive for preserving the items. If you find a lower price somewhere else all you have to do is tell a Head Cashier and we will match it, No Ads, etc needed.
I started stocking up on my supplies to try.

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27 Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares July 14, 2012 at 2:19 am

Could you, throughout the year, buy jams, pickles, pasta sauce or other things that are packed in canning jars? There’s aren’t many options like that, but they do exist.

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28 Margaret September 8, 2012 at 1:40 am

Wow! I, too, have searched high and low in NYC for mason jars. The difference is that I only found 2 jars, one at a hardware store in the West 30s, and one at Michael’s, on Northern Blvd in Queens. I finally broke down and ordered them from Kerr/Ball http://www.freshpreservingstore.com/. I can’t recall what the shipping was, but at the time, I was so desperate to have the jars that I thought it was highly reasonable.

You’ve found all these places and ways — I’m going to search out an Ace Hardware to order my ball jars to.

Meanwhile, since I have Amazon Prime, I get free shipping, so I’m thinking of just getting my jars from Amazon if the price is competitive.

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29 ALC September 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Rainbow Ace Hardware at 1st Ave and 75th has the best canning supply section I’ve seen anywhere in this city! They have flats of jars in all sizes, lids, pectin, mixes, and canning gadgets and utensils. Prices are moderate – in other words, not bad for NYC.

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30 Margaret October 5, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Thank you for the information about Ace Hardware. I’m in fermenting/culturing mode, and I’ve used up all of my jars, so I needed more jars for this week’s CSA share’s goodies. I ordered on-line from Ace, chose a store (I picked the Ace on W3rd St (when I went there, it turned out to be – really– just around the corner from the W4th St Station, and there’s a train goes through there which will bring me right to my own corner in Queens, i.e., not a whole bunch of up stairs, down stairs, walking to the next train).

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31 Jo November 18, 2012 at 6:36 pm

This information about ACE hardware’s free ship to store is so helpful!! I just avoided paying shipping fees of $53 for the 48 mason jars I need for Christmas gifts. Thank you for sharing this!

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32 Tea January 11, 2013 at 8:33 pm

If you’re uptown, you find them in various sizes at University Housewares around 113th and Broadway. I just bought 1/2 pint jars for $1.50 each, which isn’t bad, plus if it saves from having to travel downtown or east if you live/work up this way.

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33 Dan Gallagher April 1, 2013 at 8:22 pm

I was wondering, at what Hardware Store in Astoria did you get your canning jars?

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34 autumn April 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Hi dan, It was on Steinway. Between 25th ave and 28th ave. I don’t recall the name!

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35 Ava Chin April 23, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Thanks for the post! I just found some at Wankel’s on 3rd Ave. bet. 88th & 89th St. I was desperate for some 4 oz. jars and they had them for $1.99 each. (I used to purchase half pint jars from the Tarzian in Park Slope on 7th Ave. & 2nd St., the place which Stephanie mentioned, when I lived in Bklyn.).

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36 Sarah September 24, 2013 at 6:29 pm

I’m a couple of years late, but this is a great resource! I’ll have to look into these. Also, I saw that you live(d?) in Sunnyside—do you know if any of the local stores carry canning jars? I’m in the neighborhood, too.

(And I’ll second what Kristen said upthread about finding them at Target. Last time I went to the one in Elmhurst, I saw a couple of shelves of jars/supplies. If only I’d stocked up then…)

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37 Mirte April 24, 2014 at 11:07 pm

This is still a great resource, thanks! Basics Plus (franchise all around the city) sells Ball jars in different sizes, both singles and in bulk – actually at 15% and 25% discount right now.

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