The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Preserves and liqueurs: where can I buy jars and bottles?

beautiful new empty bottles

You can buy beautiful new bottle online

When we started making preserves we came up against a brick wall within days. No jars. I rang my mother.
“We’ve just made some wonderfully bramble jelly!”
“How lovely, Darling.”
“We thought that you might like some.”
“Of course I would. Do you need some jars?”
She knows her daughter well.

Now we save all jars. Even the jars that seemingly have no future. It’s best to wash them all immediately so that when you are in the mood for running up something delicious they just need a rinse, a sterilising session in the oven and then you are ready to go.

I also swap preserves for jars, bottles and any sort of glass container. Loads of my clients are older people who stockpile these treasures. They’d be happy just to give them to me but a barter is always best. This way everyone ends up with something that they want.

I also am on the lookout in the shops. There is a great French lemonade that is on sale at Tesco and Waitrose. The lemonade costs £1.99 and the empty bottle costs £2.99 at Lakeland (free lemonade and a pound to spend on something else). Waitrose sells loads of indulgent puds in small glass jars. My mum is very keen on these puds and saves all the jars for us. The low straight sided jars seemed pretty useless until I made membrillo last night.

We made a big investment in Le Parfait jars a few years ago. You can reasonably priced Le Parfait jars at Lakeland. There are cheaper ‘Le Parfait style’ jars around but we have found Le Parfait are stronger and a better investment if you are going to reuse them again and again. Of course they are dirt cheap in France. Worth stocking up on if you find yourself in France with a car or have a friend going over there.

We reuse good lids. Generally they reseal well (no matter what the books say). If the lids are shot, we use shop-bought wax disks and cellophane lids for jam but don’t use these for churney as the vinegar dissolves through a permaeable lid and you are left with a dried up husk within months.

If we are making preserves as presents we buy the jars and screw top lids (in bulk) from a serious beekeeper (100+ hives). Look on the internet – there could be a beekeeper near you that buys jars in bulk and is willing to sell them to you. There will be a modest mark up but little or no carriage.

Thornes (one of the main UK beekeeping suppliers) will sell you jars but your order is limited and you have to pay a hefty carriage. Most beekeepers buy their jars from Freeman and Harding. F&H also supply bottles for aromatherapy, medicines and grog. If you don’t need many jars Lakeland sells them in cases of 12.

I get quite a few emails asking me where to find glass jars/bottles/containers. Everyone wants to source a good supplier of small bottles.
“I want to give my sloe gin as a present and am looking for small bottles.”

I found the bottles in the photo at The Leaping Hare shop in Suffolk last Christmas. £5.95 for 4 exquisite bottles. I still have them as D said that they were too pretty to give away and our grog is too special to put in any bottle. Ideally it is quaffed from demi john to glass to mouth. Bottles? They don’t get a look in.

If you are still resolute and genuinely need glass bottles, Freeman and Harding will sell small crates of simple bottles at reasonable prices. The carriage is steepish but when you work out the price of each bottle (including carriage) they are a lot cheaper than buying a couple of bottles from the pound shop. A few people could get together locally and share the cost. Lakeland has some very pretty bottles here.

I have also ventured onto eBay There are loads of pretty bottles gleaming out at a pound a pop for 4 bottles (including postage). A grog filled bottle would be perfect for stocking presents or the crowning glory of a special Christmas hamper. Beautifully labelled of course.


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  1. Hi all
    Looking for jars, try Pattesons Glass Ltd. I searched the internet and found this company, bottles and jars of all shapes and sizes reasonably priced and free post & package if you select the 5 day delivery option.
    hope this helps

  2. Sarah Harding

    What a great blog! And a surprise to come across someone talking about us!

    Freeman & Harding are close to my heart as it is my Dad’s business and I run the company. We pride ourselves on our helpful service and good quality products. I can honestly say that you won’t get a better service anywhere else, F&H always go out of their way for their customers. I’m also familiar with J&J as I used to work there and French Flint as we supply them some items.

    We’ll always do better prices for larger orders and orders over £250 are free delivery on our website plus we’re always updating our range.

    Off now to look at other articles on your site. Please pop along and visit our website again soon.

  3. I use Ware’s of Knutsford they are very good and very reasonable also Jamjar .com not quite as reasonable as Wares but have slightly different products.
    I would say the shape of the jar has never affected the set of my jams and jellies
    Hector do you use jam sugar with pectin added?
    If like me you’ve haven’t read the instructions on the side of the pack …. I had quite a shock when one of my friends pointed out I should only boil the mixture for 4minutes!
    Needles to say I now boil only 4 minutes no longer even if I use my own homemade pectin.
    The set of jams and jellies are now much better. I have to confess I bought a Tefal jam maker as I’ve become to disabled to stand and make jam – it’s absolutely brilliant. Only problem is you can’t make more than 1kg at a time although I do 1.25 – 1.5 kg but it does splash rather a lot.

  4. Joinhampshire

    1 litre Slom swing top bottles from Ikea for £2.03 are great for flavoured gin/vodka

  5. hector3001

    You can still get swing top Grolsch bottles occasionally in the supermarket if you look out for them. Last year they had them in Morrisons and it was about £12 for 12 bottles. The drawback is that you have to find someone to drink the lager… These are also quite good for fizzy stuff (eg elderflower champagne). Empty Grolsch bottles are for sale on ebay at about £1 each!!

    You can pretty up screw top wine bottles (surprisingly easy to persuade friends to save these). 70cl is quite a lot of liqueur to give away. Screw top wine bottles are very good for pasteurising apple juice, I have found.

    Has anyone else found that the shape of a jar affects the set of jelly? It could just be coincidence, but I have made various batches of jelly this year and put it into recycled jam jars. Wide neck jars such as Bonne Maman don’t set as well as narrower neck jars, but the firmest set is with square jars such as Gu (Aldi).

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mike, Martyn and Andrew

    Thanks so much for these links.

  7. seem to have a good selection of jars and they sell them individually. I’ve bought packs of 12 etc in the past but it’s nice to choose lots of different shapes and sizes without having to buy too many.

  8. Try they have most things you will need.

  9. Hi

    I am the Sales Manager for a glass company (that supplies Thorne’s)and we also have ranges of Kilner and other jars/bottles some of which we would be happy to clear. Based in Dartford Kent

    Please look at our Website


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