Oh ubiquitous mason jar
how wonderful to use you are
modern clear and older blue
crazed with age or shiny new…
Ah, the ubiquitous mason jar. A brilliant storage unit that has gone practically unchanged in the last 100 years. Strong, easy to store and organize, and long since proven itself to just about everyone.
Mason jars aren’t only for canning. I’m only starting with canning, but I’ve used them for years. Like many modern women, when I started homemaking I went out and bought all sorts of cheap plastic storageware. Sometimes I just saved plastic containers from purchases (still do, but trying to cut down on buying stuff in plastic). Mostly I just left everything in the box it came from. Then THEY came. Grain moths, who hitched a ride into my home probably 7 years ago now, and I have never been fully able to get rid of. They’ll nest in practically anything. Those little buggers can burrow their way through cardboard boxes, through plastic bags, and even through thinner plastic jars. They can wiggle their way into basic screwtop jars and cheap tupperware. When I had to search for a solution to these little pests, given that no lure or trap ever totally got rid of them, I chose to rethink my storage. Enter the Mason Jar. Now that I’m trying to eliminate plastic storage, mason jars become an even bigger part of my storage strategy. Once I start canning vegetables from my garden, I’ll use them even more. Perhaps I should buy stock in whatever company produces Ball jars. Or more likely enlist my friend who goes yard sale hopping weekly, and try to have her pick up some on the cheap.
I have lots of mason jars. I’ve bought a carton of quart, pint, and occasionally half pint jars once a year for the past few years. I also have 5 half-gallon sized jars I picked up. I use them to store all my grain products, because they actually work at keeping the moths out. If I’m worried about spoilage, I can vacuum pack them, or freeze them. (Warning! if you’re interested in putting mason jars in the freezer, be sure to leave at least an inch or two of space at the top of the jar, and put the lid on VERY LOOSELY [or not at all] until it’s completely frozen. Freezing liquid expands, and will shatter your jar if there’s no expansion room. Guess how I know.) I vacuum pack roasted coffee beans to keep them fresher longer. I store my homemade granola in them. I keep all my oats, baking mixes, and anything that I can buy in plastic baggies or in bulk that needs a better or moth-safe home, for example the arrowroot powder I just bought. I keep my brown sugar in one, with one of those little clay bears to keep it moist. There’s lots of other things you can keep in them. I also keep my sewing pins in one, and my hubby drilled some holes in another lid and I put baking soda in it and keep it next to the sink to help with washing dishes. This year I bought drawers from ikea for my tall storage cabinet in my pantry, deep ones that let me store large quantities of mason jars. I put a label on the lid with what’s in them and I can look at the lower drawers from above and pull out the right jar. Since the lids aren’t glued on during the canning process, they are reusable again and again. If you search google images for mason jar, you’ll see lots and lots of creative storage and non-storage things people have done with mason jars.
Why a sudden ode to a mason jar? well, I’ve dropped many a mason jar. And amazingly they hardly ever break. This past week I’ve lost two. Sadly, they weren’t just basic Ball jars, they were a pair of Anchor Hocking 32oz Mason Jar Mugs. I bought a dozen of these when we were first married, 12 years later I have a few left. I went online today to see if I could buy some more, they’re perfect for me to make iced tea and they make great drinking glasses in the summer when we’re working in the garden and get really thirsty. And now I find out they’re actually rare pieces! My K-mart mugs are worth $25 a piece on ebay if they’re not chipped? You’re kidding. Admittedly I love the darn things, but I’m not about to replace them at $25 a pop. Hear me Anchor Hocking? You should manufacture these again, they’d be big sellers.