For as long back as I can remember, I have had an unhealthy passion for cute containers. If mom brought anything into the house in a passably interesting tin, jar, or box, I’d call dibs on it before she’d even touched the safety seal. It’s one of my guilty privileges of adulthood (along with baking cookies at midnight while wearing a vintage slip and sipping rum out of a teacup) that I will pay a couple bucks extra for jam or fruit butter or coconut oil or spaghetti sauce if I like the jar it comes in. I know, okay, it sounds a little frivolous, but hey, I’m going to use that jar, right? And I’m far more likely to use a pretty jar, right?
…Don’t judge me.
When I moved into my apartment, I got my responsible-adult-collection started with couple of cases of Ball canning jars in various sizes, and I use them for everything except canning. Don’t get me wrong: I read canning blogs late into the evening hours and lust after homemade preserves like nobody’s business, but I don’t think I have the drive to make time for another all-consuming food-related hobby just now. (But one day. One glorious day.) However, those jars are brilliant for making yogurt, protecting grains and legumes from hexapedal invaders, preserving soups and sauces in the fridge, and perhaps most importantly, toting beverages to and from wherever.
I mean, I’ve been teased once or twice for pulling what looks like a jar of moonshine out of my bag in broad daylight on a college campus, but I take that as a badge of pride. I like the front-porch homeyness of a jar full of mint tea. I mean, c’mon: don’t you feel refreshed just looking at it?
Aside from the stylistic benefits of mason jars, I’m also a huge fan of the first-hand recycling aspect of the game. Bereft of original contents, jelly-sauce-and-condiment jars serve exactly the same function in my pantry and my lunchbox as canning jars do. Just for example, I’ve lately been accruing a quantity of Bonne Maman jam jars. They’re the exact size and shape of the glassware we had in my kitchen as a kid, so they make for marvelous beverage conveyances. Furthermore, the wide mouth and 13oz size render them the perfect size for soups, chilis, and bean salads, and minus the lids they are microwave ready. Since glass doesn’t stain, I can microwave as much cheese-and-tomatoey goodness in these as I like, without forever suffering the red stains scarred into plastic for eternity.
Lastly, as I’m sure you’re already aware, plastic food containers have been getting a bad rap lately for potentially leaching a toxic chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) that has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer (along with other scary effects). Now, I’m not the most plastic-paranoid person out there (particularly as more and more BPA-free plastics are flooding the market), but if in this case health and aesthetics go hand in hand, I’m happy to make the effort to replace my potentially-toxic plastic with pretty-and-functional glassware. Besides which, pretty containers motivate me to pick pretty food (what can I say: I’m a simple girl), and pretty food is better for you.
To help get you started on your downward-spiral to mason jar hoarding (because nothing helps an obsession like spreading it around), check out the links below. You will never look at a jar of pasta sauce the same way again!
- Under the Table and Dreaming: 50 Different Foods You Can Put in a Jar
- Food in Jars: Refrigerator Dill Pickles
- The Kitchn: What Can I Do With My Stockpile of Jams?
- Krista and Jess: The Jar Lunch