I bought a case or two of canning jars several years ago, before I started canning, to store dry goods in my pantry. Since I started canning my collection has exploded. At last count I have more than 250 jars in the house.
At the beginning of the summer, many of these (200?) are empty and sitting on a shelf in the basement, waiting for canning season to begin. By October, they’re all full!
Apart from canning, here’s what I use jars for:
1. Food storage in the pantry. You can see what’s in the jar, and how much of it you have, because of the measurements along the side. You can use jars to buy the grains and beans (and spices and syrup and honey and dish soap and powdered buttermilk and panko) you buy in bulk at the natural foods store. Pantry moths can’t get into a jar!
2. Food storage in the refrigerator. Leftover soup goes in a jar, but so does a batch of iced coffee, or half a lemon.
3. Food storage in the freezer. This is a little tricky because the glass can shatter if you’re not careful. I mostly freeze things in wide mouth pint jars, because as soon as the food is slightly thawed, it will slide right out. If you use other kinds of jars, you have to be patient and wait for the food to thaw–or take your chances with breakage, and stick the frozen jar in a bowl of water or put it in the microwave (really, don’t do this. Even if your jar doesn’t break, the glass is weakened and it might break next time). And leave space in the jar, and don’t screw the lid down very tightly–you need to allow the liquid to expand.
4. Taking food to work. I walk a mile to work, so a plastic container full of soup carries a lot of risk of spillage. Not so in a jar. My lunch bag is a lot heavier and bigger than most, but I don’t mind. Any food that fits can be carried in a jar. Yogurt and fruit. Carrot sticks. Salad. Tortilla chips! Screw you, zip-loc!