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Mason Jars Are Your Kitchen and Pantry Savior

Updated: Oct 31, 2020

File this under what I used to believe: that I needed specific kinds of containers for different pantry items. And, then specific containers for things that went into the fridge. Let's not forget the containers - Mason jars - that I used for canning and preserving.

That adds up to a lot of containers. And, a lot of mis-matched lids. Snort.

A few years back, I decided to cull the herd. A lot of the plastics went first, and weren't replaced. Plastic containers - especially those with BPA (bisphenol A) which we really don't need more exposure to - went first. What needed replacing, I replaced with glass, and a few very select pieces in BPA-free plastic. Finally, as I started 'resetting' my pantry during our transition to a WFPBNO (Whole-food, Plant-based, No Oil) way of eating, I started running out of 'just right' containers - until I remembered my Mason jar stash out in the garage.

In the stores, you'll find two different brands of Mason jars - Kerr and Ball. The name 'Mason' comes from the original inventor, John Landis Mason, who patented the molded glass jar in 1958. The jars have a reusable metal ring that screws on the top, and a one-time use metal 'liner' that features a rubberized seal. That's what creates the hermetic seal when the filled jar is heated. For purposes of canning and preserving food, those liners should NEVER be reused. Toss 'em. However, for purposes of average kitchen and pantry storage, I mark the liners with a big 'X' using a Sharpie pen. That tells me that a particular liner shouldn't be used for canning.

Nowadays, I keep several sizes of Mason jar in the 'container corral' at the handy - for everything from storing the last bit of chickpea flour from a bag, to homemade salad dressing, to shaking up slurry for gravy, to nuts, to dried fruit .... if I could stuff my big ginger cat into a Mason jar ... Ouch. But, Mason jars - and that's the generic name for pretty much any glass jar used for canning and preserving - can be reused practically forever, they don't retain odors, they don't stain like plastic will, they wash easily, can go into the microwave, are easy to label, don't warp out of shape, don't melt if they get too close to a heat source. I haven't found a downside. BTW - Sharpie markers wipe right off of the glass with a bit of dish soap and a scrubbie. So, label away.

I suggest, even if you're not likely to start canning and preserving, buy a half dozen quarts and pints, plus enough of the replaceable inner lids for a while. There are only two sizes of lids - the 'small mouth' (pints) and 'large mouth' (for all the rest). So, that alone will keep things better organized. You can also find generic plastic and silicone reusable lids now for Mason jars.

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