Oh glass jars, how I love thee! Let me count the ways.
Last summer when I started canning for the first time, I started to realize the many benefits of glass jars.
1. They are very sturdy
2. They come in lots of sizes
3. They last forever as long as you don’t break them
4. They can go in the freezer and the microwave
5. They don’t leech weird chemicals into your food like plastic does
6. Re-using glass jars is a great way to recycle and helps the environment
7. They can be used for pretty much anything!
I have been known to put trail mix in half pint jars:
Dried apricots also fit nicely in half pint jars and a jelly jar is the perfect size for almonds. Jelly jars are SO cute. Pop one filled with nuts and dried fruit right into your purse for an easy snack on the go!
Homemade vegan parmesan cheese looks cute in a jelly jar too.
I also use jars in my freezer. Right now in the freezer there are pint jars filled with Italian tomato sauce, tomato-basil sauce, tomato puree and pumpkin puree, all from the garden last year. There are also jelly jars filled with homemade pesto, which is my own personal liquid gold.
You might not think you can use glass in the freezer, but you actually can! However there are a few things to remember.
When using jars in the freezer, only use the wide mouth jars. Wide mouth jars are just like the name, they have a wide mouth and the sides of the jar are straight up and down. They do not slope inwards at the mouth of the jar. All of the jars above would be considered “wide-mouth”. Using the wide-mouth jars will keep your jars from exploding in the freezer (yikes!). When liquids freeze, they expand. If the jar is not a wide-mouth, the expanding liquid has nowhere to go. Also make sure to give your freezer jars plenty of head space (the space between the stuff in the jar and the lid). I usually do 3/4 inch to an inch depending on the size of the jar.
Here’s my bathroom compost jar:
The compost jar is not a wide-mouth jar. See how the top slopes inward close to the lid?
I also put all of my bulk grains in quart jars or pint jars and label them with masking tape. From left to right we have quinoa, brown basmati rice and couscous.
Below are even more jars. I think we have lentils, dry beans, sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in the front row. They are easier to tell apart so I don’t label them.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I buy almost all my grains from the bulk bins at Whole Foods. Did you know that you can take empty jars or other containers with you to Whole Foods and put your bulk grains in them instead of in plastic bags? It’s true! A cashier told me about it one day when I was checking out. All you have to do is take your containers to customer service before you fill them up. They will weigh them empty and assign them a tare weight. Then when you are checking out the cashier weighs the entire thing and types the tare weight into the computer. That subtracts the weight of your container so that you are only paying for the weight of what you are buying.
For larger bulk items like dry beans, nuts and even lentils, I use my Bite Bags. But for small grains like rice, quinoa, barley and couscous (especially – it’s so tiny!) I like to use my jars. Ask someone at your grocery store to see if they would let you bring in your own containers!
Canning jars can be purchased at any hardware store or Walmart. The lids and rims are sold separately. BUT you can probably find deals on them at Goodwill, Salvation Army or other stores with used items. Glass jars last forever as long as they aren’t cracked. A lot of the jars in the pictures above I got from my Grandma!
You can also save and reuse any glass jar you buy from the store. Mayonnaise jars and spaghetti sauce are two that come to mind. These jars aren’t suitable for canning, but they can be used for storage.
And if you are interested in home canning, I’ll be posting on the subject later this summer once the garden is in full swing. I can’t wait!
Do you have any other uses for glass jars? Or see any other benefits of using them?