Friday, November 14, 2008

Re-Cre8 Canning Jars as a Flexible Kitchen Storage System

i HEART mason jars

The introduction of mason jars/canning jars into my kitchen has been the most wonderful transformation in storage for me. If you look in my regrigerator, any of my cabinets, or on the counter, you are sure to find all sizes of jars performing some useful function. I initially bought some jelly jars for making jam after our pick-your-own raspberries and blackberries adventure this summer. (BTW, the jam turned out great and the canning process was super easy). That is when I had an “a-ha” moment that these inexpensive glass jars will address many of my concerns in the kitchen this year.

Here are all the reasons for my new love affair with these classics:

Using less plastic - I have been trying systematically to remove my dependence on plastic - especially those kinds that cannot be recycled at all, such as zip-top bags and plastic wrap. I found that having a set of different sized canning jars lets me do just that. I can store single-size servings of leftover spaghetti - ready to go into lunch boxes or snack-size cookies and crackers. I can use them in place of plastic storage containers for just about everything I cook. They are also great in the pantries for holding beans, seeds, and flour bought in bulk.

Storing leftovers in re-heatable containers - Leftovers are important to staying frugal and eating healthy in my household. I absolutely refuse to put anything plastic in the microwave. So storing, say leftover homemade Spaghetti Sauce, in a quart size mason jar allows me to just put it directly in the microwave and voila - dinner's ready. No need to pour from a Tupperware into a another bowl and dirty some more dishes.

Reusable containers for work and school lunches - I use these in my Kindergartner's lunch and to bring my lunch to work all the time. Applesauce, yogurt, smoothies, leftover rice and beans, soup - you name it - all of these things work great in a small canning jar for a portable lunch. While glass is breakable, these are pretty durable. As long as you're not throwing your lunch box around, they're going to be alright.

Yogurt jars - These are just about the best solution for creating single-serving yogurt jars. There are 4-oz. jars and 8-oz. jars for kids-size servings as well as grown-up servings.

Standard and easy-to-replace lids -Now the lids for all my containers can be interchanged with each other. If I lose them, I don't have to throw out the whole storage container - I can just get a new lid from any grocery or hardware store.

Bulk Food Storage - I am buying more and more bulk food in the process of reducing my plastic consumption. Mason jars are so great for storing rice, beans, seeds, and flours. No need to have anything disposable involved! They also are a standard size, so it can keep your pantry nice and neat.

The list goes on and on. But, you get the idea! It is just as wonderful to reuse glass jars you may get your honey, parmesan, jams, or pickles in - especially if they have a lid that is easily reusable. Give it a try!

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