Weck jars are a popular canning system in Europe. Learn how they are similar and different from the mason jar system.
If you’re a homesteader or home canner, you might be wondering how weck jars compare to mason jars.
Maybe you’re just looking for an alternative to mason jars. Or you have been affected by the shortage of canning lids.
Some of you might simply be interested in learning more about the Weck brand in general for your home food preservation or jam-making.
Whatever the reason, in this blog post I will compare the similarities and differences between these two popular canning jar systems.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.
What are Weck Jars?
Weck jars are glass canning jars that are very popular in Europe. The German company Weck has been making these since the 1890s. In fact, growing up in Germany, these jars were the only ones my grandmother ever used for canning.
More recently, these beautiful jars have been gaining more popularity in the United States for good reason.
Similarities between mason jars and Weck jars
- Both the Weck and the mason canning system (brands of jars such as Kerr or Ball) use glass jars.
- While you can re-use the glass jar, you are supposed to use a new lid/rubber gasket every time (more on that below)
- They come in various sizes, shapes, and lid sizes
- You can use them not only for canning but also for food storage, candle holders, vases, and other various uses.
How are Weck jars different from mason jars?
Here’s a quick overview of the major differences:
- Weck jars have glass lids with a rubber gasket and clamps versus the metal lids with a coating and rubber seal of the mason jars.
- The Weck jars use metric measurements for the sizing
- Weck jars are more expensive in the US than mason jars
- There are a lot more different sizes and shapes of Weck jars vs mason jars
- You will not find quite as many different types of lids yet (i.e. sprouting lids, pouring lids, etc). However, this might change as they gain in popularity here in the US. But you can get wooden, clear plastic, stainless steel, and cork lids for the Weck jars.
- While you can buy one-gallon jars (4.54 liters), the largest size made by the J. Weck company is the 776 3 L barrel jar which is almost 0.8 gallons.
Where to buy Weck jars:
Here are some good places to purchase Weck jars:
- www.weckjars.com – This is the official website of Weck in the US. They have very good prices but the shipping costs vary depending on where you live.
- www.amazon.com – This online retailer has a limited selection of Weck jars and fast shipping.
- Other online and brick-and-mortar retailers: I have seen Weck jars at Walmart, Crate and Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, and The Container Store.
- Used jars: you can often find Weck jars in good condition in a thrift store, at garage sales, on ebay.com, or etsy.com
What do Weck jars look like:
The biggest difference between mason jars and Weck jars is in the lids. For the Weck jars, you actually have 3 lid components versus the lid and band system for the mason jars.
Weck glass lids
These are probably the biggest difference to the mason jar system. The lids for Weck jars are made from the same high-quality glass as the jars. If you buy a new Weck jar you will get the right-sized lids, rubber gasket, and two metal clamps.
Weck rubber sealing rings
These rubber gaskets are very sturdy, thick pieces. The official recommendation is to replace them every single time. You can purchase them separately for cheaper than buying new canning lids for standard canning jars.
The metal clamps
Every Weck jar comes with 2 clamps. Of course, you can purchase them separately in case you lost some or just need more.
How do the Weck jars work:
As with mason jars, you simply fill your food into the glass jar.
Next, you attach the rubber gasket to the glass lid and place the lid on the jar. Then you attach the 2 metal clamps to keep the lid in place.
You can now process them just like you would mason jars: either in a water bath canner or a pressure canner (or not as I often do).
Is the canning process different for Weck jars?
As I laid out above, the concept is the same.
Since you need to attach the metal clamps, that can take a few seconds longer than attaching the screw bands on standard canning jars. If you are processing a lot of jars at one time, that might add up a bit.
Also, since the glass of the Weck jars is a bit thicker than mason jars, it might take a little bit longer for the foods to reach the appropriate temperature. You might like to add about 3-5 minutes more to your processing time (both for pressure canning as well as the hot water bath).
Can you reuse the rubber ring for the Weck jars?
I always encourage you to follow the official recommendation which is not to reuse the rubber gaskets. If you do decide to reuse the rubber seals, please do your own research on the safety and risks of doing so.
With that out of the way, I can tell you that many people, including my own grandmother and myself, have reused the rubber seals many times.
Similarly, you are supposed to use new lids for the ball jars. I have made the decision for myself to reuse those as well.
How to check the rubber seal
If you decide to reuse the rubber rings for your Weck jars, simply inspect them in good light. Gently stretch them to look for cracking or deterioration of the rubber. Should you not get a proper seal with a used rubber gasket, you can still place your jar in the refrigerator and still eat the food.
Checking a seal on Weck jars
Just like the bands for mason jars, you are only supposed to use the metal clamps for the Weck jars for processing and the first 24 or so hours. After that, you are supposed to remove them.
You know you have a proper seal if you can lift your Weck jar (without the metal clamps) by the glass lid without the latter coming off.
How to open a sealed Weck jar:
It couldn’t be simpler: find the little tab of the rubber gasket and slowly pull on it. You will hear a “swishing” sound as the jar opens. You will then be able to lift the lid.
Is the Weck canning system safe to use?
While the USDA does not recommend using Weck jars for home canning, they have been used for over 100 years in Europe and still remain their most popular canning system. My personal opinion is that they are just as safe with careful use. I can quickly see if I have a proper seal and if not, I would just dispose of the entire jar. You can read more about preventing and avoiding botulism right here.
Are there any studies about the safety of Weck jars?
Since Weck jars are not as popular in the US as the mason jars, there seems to be limited research on their safety. However, I was able to find a paper from the University of Georgia.
Are Weck jars oven-safe?
One thing I really like about the Weck jars is that you can use them to make cakes in them. In the official German Weck canning book, there are some recipes. Since you will bake the cakes directly in the jars, they are safe for temperatures up to 375˚F.
How many Weck jars can you fit into a canner?
As I mentioned above, Weck jars come in a whole lot of different shapes and sizes. Since I have never personally used a pressure canner, I can’t say anything from first-hand experience. However, I do believe that you can find sizes similar to your mason jars and fit just about as many into your water bath or pressure canner.
Other uses for Weck jars
You can use your Weck jars for pretty much anything you would use your mason jars for: as vases, dry food storage, left-over storage, candle holders, or whatever you like.
Because of the rim, I prefer mason jars over Weck jars for using them as drinking vessels.
This German company stocks a variety of see-through plastic lids, wooden lids, stainless steel, and cork lids. It might be worth contacting them about shipping options and costs if you are interested in buying any of them.
Are Weck jars more expensive than mason jars?
It is hard to give you exact pricing for either type of jar. A lot of it has to do with how many you are ordering, what sizes, and if you’re calculating shipping costs into the equation. For the lowest price, you will always want to compare different vendors (see above).
What I can say, though, is that Weck jars do cost more than mason jars. Weck jars cost about $3-5 per complete jar, compared to about $1-2 for mason jars.
If you actually hold a Weck jar in your hand, you will notice that they are very sturdy and thicker than mason jars. I still have some of my grandmother’s Weck jars (including their rubber rings) that have had well over 30 years of use and they are still holding up fine.
That being said, if you don’t want to buy canning lids or are affected by a shortage of canning lids, Weck jars can be more economical in the long run, especially if you are reusing the rubber bands.
Unfortunately, Weck jars are a lot more expensive in the US than in Germany. That could be because they are not as widely used here.
Where can I learn more about Weck jars?
While there isn’t quite as much documentation about these German jars as the popular mason jars, there are definitely resources worth checking out:
- the official Weck website
- the official German Weck canning book (in German)
- the English Weck canning book
Are Weck jars better than mason jars?
I don’t think it would be hard to make a blanket statement like that. Ultimately, it all depends on your preferences and how you intend to use them.
I personally have both and will continue to use both! Some of it simply has to do with the fact that Weck jars are a German brand and are made in Germany.
If you are looking at what the best choice for your money might be, you just can’t go wrong with mason jars.
I do have to say though, that Weck jars are simply beautiful especially in a pantry. They are easy to stack. You also have a lot more choices in terms of size and shape!
Resources about home canning and Weck jars:
English Weck canning book: https://amzn.to/3buy7P9
German Weck Einkochbuch (cheaper in Germany): https://amzn.to/3HSdWqh
Weck jars: https://amzn.to/3OMpOg1
Weck USA: https://weckjars.com
More Weck lids (German company): https://www.glaeserundflaschen.de/WECK—260.html