At the Container Store, they sell glass jars for a buck or more. What a hoot. You can go to Safeway and get nicer jars for not much more money, with the added advantage that they are filled with tasty jam or pickles. Anyway, we use glass jars for food storage. This helps us reduce the mound of bags filled with rice, beans, flour, sugar, etc. that end up buried and forgotten in the back of the cabinet. We use things more quickly since we can actually see everything, and jars seem to keep most foods fresher with less mess. Plus they are free, so when we move, we can just recycle them and start over again. I also like fewer garish labels confronting us every time we open the cabinet – it is really easier on the eyes. A few tips:
- Soak the labels to remove them. Nothing nastier than a jar covered with sticky goop. If water doesn’t work, try baking soda or rubbing alchohol. If that doesn’t work, recycle it and wait for another kind to come along.
- Tall jars are better than squat jars – you can fit more side-by-side in the cabinet and see what’s in them.
- Some jars, like Classico pasta sauce, have measurement markings on the side, which can be helpful.
- The plastic liner in most lids can pick up smells. We’ve soaked them with dish detergent, scrubbed them, and rubbed them with baking soda, but it is difficult to remove strong smells. It does fade over time, so just leave the lid out for a while. Someone suggested soaking with vinegar, so maybe we’ll try that next time.
- If the lid doesn’t have a plastic liner, it may be cardboard. Hard to clean, so just recycle and move on.
- If you are going to stick a knife in the jar (to get jam or something) then try to use one that has straight sides all the way up to the lid, so that stuff doesn’t get stuck when you try and scrape it out. Bonne Maman jam jars are perfect for this. (And it is good jam.) If you are going to pour stuff out of the jar (e.g. dry rice or beans) then use one that rounds at the top and has an opening smaller than the width of the jar – since it is narrower, it is easier to pour stuff out accurately into a measuring cup. This knowledge is hard-earned after many messes on the counter, so heed it well.
- For sanity’s sake, try and accumulate a bunch of identical jars, and discard the singletons as soon as possible. Otherwise finding the right lid is a constant irritation. Even worse, sometimes the wrong lid will feel like it fits, but actually not seal at all, making your mini-marshmallows hard and nasty.
- Even better, there are some jars like the smaller Mt. Olive pickle jars, that use the same lids for two different sizes. 100% goodness.
If you do something similar, we’d love to hear about any jars that nest for more compact storage. Keeping a variety on hand can get cluttered since they don’t stack well.