31 Ways to Use a Mason Jar in Your Kitchen

I have a bit of a love affair with mason jars.

They are sturdy, they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, they can often be found inexpensively, and best of all? They are a completely non-toxic way to store things in my kitchen!

We all know by now that plastics usually include dangerous chemicals, particularly if they are heated at all, but even when they are used for any sort of food or liquid that could absorb the toxins that the plastics leach out. Some plastics are safer than others and it’s prudent to learn which ones are which.

This month, we’re actually looking at a variety of ways to “Spring Clean the Toxins” lurking in your home. What better place to start than in the kitchen, particularly with items that are touching the food you put straight into your body?

When it comes to the kitchen, one of the best and simplest ways to avoid dangerous plastics and the toxins they contain is by switching to completely safe, clean options like glass! Enter the ever practical mason jar…

Image by RecoilRick

How to Start a Mason Jar Stockpile

First of all, never turn down an offer of mason jars. If you see them free at garage sales, if your aunt has extras she is getting rid of, if something you buy comes in a genuine re-usable mason jar. Any size, style, shape, even color– they’re all worth having.

Personally, I like to get mine free (who wouldn’t?). It’s easier than you think. Some places to start looking:

  • Craigslist. Look in the Free section and search for jars, canning, etc. You’d be surprised what people give away.
  • Garage sales. I have picked up so many free or very cheap boxes of canning jars from garage sales. It’s one of the first things I look for when I stop at a sale.
  • Family or friends. A lot of people have jars that they just don’t know what to do with, especially our mother’s generation, or perhaps grandmothers that used to do canning but have since given it up.

If you can’t find them free, and I will be the first to admit that this is getting just slightly harder now that canning and preserving is coming back into vogue, here are some other cheap options:

  • End-of-season clearance sales. Starting around the end of August and all through September, I keep my eyes open for the brand new boxes in the grocery or hardware stores to go on clearance. Once they do, I buy as many boxes as my budget and storage situation can handle.
  • Thrift stores (and garage sales). Sometimes you can find them in complete box sets, other times you have to buy them by the jar. Either way, it’s usually worthwhile.
Image by rcakewalk

Mason jars come in many sizes and shapes. The first distinction is in the mouth size (or the opening of the jar). The two most common sizes are Wide Mouth and Regular. There are some more random sizes out there, like Gem, but these are few and far between and difficult to find rings and lids for. I would stick to the first two to keep things simple.

The second distinction is in their size. They can be as small as 250ml (or I have even seen on very rare occasions jars that are half this size- so small!), and then you can commonly find jars that are 500 ml (or about 1 pint) or 1 L (same as quart). Then there are the 2 L (or 2 quart/ half gallon) jars. Among all these different sizes, the shapes vary slightly depending on the size of the jar’s mouth and the style of the jar.

In my experience, every variation on size, shape and style is useful in some way or another. Don’t restrict yourself. Collect as many different types of jars as you can, and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll find a use for them all.

Fermenting salsa, telling me when it’s ready to go in the fridge

Making Jars Even More Useful

Did you know you can purchase these incredibly handy-dandy plastic screw-on lids for mason jars? They come in both regular and wide mouth size and are very inexpensive.

What makes them even more perfect is that you can use a wipe off marker to label them, and simply wipe it off when you’re ready to use the jar for something new. Labelling, and thus avoiding a fridge full of mysterious mason jars is a good idea (unless you want them to turn into mason jar science experiments… which could be a fun use, come to think of it).

Another great find is sprouting lids intended to fit wide mouth mason jars. I have a set of 3 sprouting lids, each with a different size mesh (some for smaller seeds, some for larger ones). Love these!

I have purchased my lids through the natural foods co-op I shop at, Azure Standard. If you’ve seen these types of lids in other locations, please let us know where in the comments for the sake of other readers. Edit: You can get both the plastic lids and the sprouting lids at Amazon!

31 Ways to Use a Mason Jar in Your Kitchen

1. Leftovers. Perfect for soups or stews, grains like rice, chopped veggies, scrambled eggs… endless possibilities.

2. Smoothies. Make extra and store it in the fridge for later in the day, or use the jar to bring the smoothie when you’re on the go.

3. Drinking water for day. Need a way to visually measure how much water you are drinking throughout the day? Try using quart or 1/2 gallon mason jars to put your daily water out on the counter, then use it to refill glasses until it’s gone. You’ll know for sure whether you hit your water target or not.

Soaking seeds for sprouting

4. Sprouting seeds or grains. With the sprouting lids I mentioned, this is a breeze for making fresh green sprouts. But even without fancy lids, I’ve been using jars for sprouting for years. Works for sprouting grains, too.

5. Soaking nuts or seeds. Soaking overnight reduces enzyme-inhibitors in nuts and seeds.

6. Store nut butter. After you soak your nuts, make homemade nut butter!

Bubbly sourdough starter

7. Sourdough starter. I like pint jars for creating new sourdough starter, then I’ll transfer it to a quart or 1/2 gallon jar for storing and maintaining the starter long term.

8. Making/storing kombucha. This healthful, fermented drink can also be flavored.

9. Homemade yogurt. I like making mine directly in jars, either in my oven or in my Excalibur dehydrator. Another option is to make yogurt in your crockpot, then transfer to jars once cool and set for easy fridge storage.

10. Mason jar meal. This creative idea would be great for a picnic!

11. Flower vase. Simple, quaint, beautiful.

12. Making milk kefir or water kefir or coconut milk kefir.

13. Storing homemade juice or iced teas in fridge. The large 1/2 gallon jars are particularly perfect for this, and even for brewing the tea, especially with the screw-on plastic lids.

Image by striatic

 

14. Keeping herbs fresh in the fridge (green onions, cilantro, etc.). Fill a jar 3/4 full with water, place your bunch of fresh herbs in it, then store in the fridge for herbs that keep much longer than they would in your produce drawer.

15. Spice mixes. Making your own spice mixes is cheap and easy. The small jar (1/2 pint or smaller) make ideal spice jars.

16. Dry pantry staples. I like to buy in bulk, then store staples like sea salt, baking soda and baking powder in jars.

17. Dried vegetables from garden. Not only is it practical, but dehydrated summer produce looks beautiful in jars.

18. Canning. Whether you stick to a batch or two of jam each season, or you want to get serious about preserving the season’s bounty, this is the season to think about stocking up on jars if you plan to do some summer preserving.

Image by keithhopper

 

19. Storing dry beans, pasta, rice, etc. in the pantry. There’s something particularly pleasing about a pantry full of mason jars.

20. Mixing salad dressings. I use 1/2 pint or pint jars with lids to mix up salad dressings, then store them in the door of my fridge to make salad eating simple. You could do this with homemade marinades or other types of sauces as well.

21. Homemade syrup. Our two favorite syrups (aside from genuine maple syrup, our number one choice) are honey butter syrup or a more typical syrup made with Sucanat (unrefined sugar) or coconut sugar. A perk of using glass is that you can soften extra honey butter syrup (since it will harden in the fridge) by letting it warm up in a pot of lightly boiling water for a couple minutes.

Image by Paula from Salad in a Jar

 

22. Mason jar salads. Love this brilliant idea!

23. Homemade cough syrup or other cold-kicking remedies.

24. Fermenting foods like salsa or pickles or sauerkraut. Leave them out on the counter while fermenting, then add a lid and store in the fridge, while you enjoy these digestion-boosting foods.

Image by twodolla

 

25. As a drinking glass. I’ve seen many people actually build up a collection of various mason jars, purely for the sake of using as drinking glasses. Great for everyday, or fun for a party or special event.

26. Dry baking mixes like bread, pancakes, etc. Making your own homemade baking mixes saves money and time. Store them in amounts that are just right for one morning of pancakes, or two loaves of bread, to simplify the baking process even more (no measuring!).

27. Culture your own creme fraiche (or sour cream).

28. Soup broth. Store your homemade bone broth for a few days in your fridge, or in your freezer (but make sure to leave a good amount of headroom so that your jars don’t crack).

29. Food gifts. Layered food mixes, like dry bean soup or cookies in a jar, look so lovely and homey in a mason jar. Add a pretty fabric or decorative paper label to the lid to make it extra special.

Image by maureen lunn

 

30. Decoratively. Aside from their practical uses, they’re also just plain old pretty. Try doing a search on Pinterest for Mason Jar. You won’t believe how many amazing ideas you find. Candles, lanterns, party decor… the possibilities are endless!

31. Edible beauty products. Did you know that you already have a kitchen full of beauty supplies? Try making some of these edible beauty products, or homemade scrubs like the ones in Simple Scrubs to Make and Give.

31 Ways to Use a Mason Jar in Your Kitchen {Keeper of the Home}

This is probably only the tip of the iceberg… how do you use mason jars in your kitchen?

 

Top image by mriggen

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. michaela massaro says:

    stephanie, are you related to langfords in utah?

  2. One that I didn’t see on the list which I found on pinterest last fall is the pie in a jar. Using a half pint size jar you press pie dough along the sides of the jar, add your filing, top with remainder of dough or crumb topping and freeze. When you want pie, put the jar from the freezer into the oven for 50 minutes at 375 and you have a single serving pie! I’m planning on making a bunch of these this summer when our raspberry bushes are harvested. Yum!

  3. I love using Mason jars for storing dry beans, juice and leftovers – especially half-used onions! The glass is easy to clean and the tight lid keeps the stink out of my fridge. My only problem is where/how to store all the jars. We have very little storage space in our kitchen. How do you store all your extra jars?

  4. We use them to make soap dispensers for homemade foaming liquid handsoap (I have a post on it, but I won’t spam up your comments!). I also store homemade stock, spaghetti sauce, etc. in them and store in the freezer. Oh, and I also buy coconut oil in a 7 lb. container, so I melt the oil and pour into separate mason jars. I always keep one on top of my stove, and when the oven or stove are warm it automatically melts it for me!

    I also use them to store dry beans, and I use them to make a homemade citrus all purpose cleaner. I always have 2 batches of cleaner going at the same time.

    Where do you store all your jars? We are running out of room, and I just decided the other day that I may need to just recycle some b/c I don’t have room for all of them. I guess I can use some for decoration on top of my cabinets and just empty the contents when I need to use them for food!

    • My husband and “BFF” both agree I should be on hoarders when it comes to saving glass containers :) I don’t think they realize I actually DO re-use them, though!

      To offer an idea for storage:
      I had this problem too – I used to keep my “pretty” ones on my large kitchen windowsill, but they’d always be in the way, get splashed from the sink, etc. Since my kitchen cabinets stop about a foot short of the ceiling, I decided to move them up there. I have them in clusters, with varying styles in an interesting arrangement, with a vintage teapot, food scale, my water-bath canner and a chicken-wire basket and bushel basket. It has a wonderful simple-life, country feel.

      I want to put a shelf across the TOP of that large kitchen window and put them up there, eventually. I think they’d look so pretty there, but I think my collection has gotten too big for that now!!

      As far as my canning ones, I’ve saved the boxes they came in and stash them on a high shelf in my pantry. But they could even be stacked and covered with a cloth to make an end table!

      • I love this idea! Thanks for sharing, Jenny! Our kitchen cabinets also stop short of the ceiling. I have some pottery up there right now, but I bet I could re-arrange and make them look pretty (I’m not a natural decorator, though! haha). Right now, I just toss them in a drawer…but that drawer is so full. We live in a townhouse with little storage space…but I think I can creatively find a place to store them!

  5. my grandmother just gave me some of her OLD canning jars and lids. The lids are glass and have a rubber ring. The metal screw on top is a little different. She said that they had to replace the rubber rings over time as they would get hard and brittle.

  6. Since our fridge is how we get our filtered water, I keep a Mason jar next to it to use to fill measuring cups and the teapot. I wash it occasionally, but since it just has water in it, it doesn’t need it too often.

    (BTW, Classico pasta sauce jars are the best! I pay more for Classico sauce than other sauces since their jars are so useful :) )

  7. I, too, love Mason Jars! I love the Elite 8oz and 16oz jars – they’re short and squatty with wide mouths, so they work great a “tupperware” for taking lunches to school, etc. I store most leftovers, etc in my jars. I remember being so frustrated with the glass food storage containers on the market because they leak and one day read about someone using mason jars and I felt so dumb for never even thinking of that as an option. (At the time I had a cupboard full of jars.) Thanks for all the new ideas!

  8. So nice to know that I’m not the only one who is a bit obsessed with Mason jars!! :-) I read your post to my hubby so he could see that it’s not just me. I use all sizes in my pantry and love how it turned out. One idea- Foodsaver vacuum sealers have an attachment that will vacuum seal your jars to keep things fresher for a longer period of time (NOT a substitute for canning though). So much fun!

  9. FaeLynne Gertz says:

    One thing some of the ppl at church have been doing lately is using the wide mouth jars for something called “dinner in a jar”. There is a recipe book for it you can buy. I got mine at a food storage store. You put all your dry ingredients in the jar and seal it using a tool to suck out the air. You can can chicken, beef, hamburger, bacon, etc in jars too then together, you can make a meal.

  10. Oh, I love this post! Mason jars are the best. They make me happy :)

    I do use a lot of them for my homemade scrubs and salves, but also like to drink out of them and store food in them, and use them as flower vases . . .

  11. I use a mason jar all the time for my water glass and my daughter made me a cute “braclet” for it of colorful beads and a stretchy string….so I put on my current jar and it doesn’t get mixed up with anyone elses. I LOVE knowing I am drinking out of the right one!

  12. Love the idea of using a dry erase market on the plastic lids. I haven’t gotten any yet but you have inspired me.
    I also save my nice glass sauce jars or coconut oil jars. They also are a cheap way to increase your glass collection.
    My pantry is filled with leftover glass jars and mason jars. http://www.randomrecycling.com/2012/03/project-simplify-creating-pantry.html
    There’s just something about the glass that makes it less distracting.

  13. I too have used most of these ideas. I love to open my cupboard and be able to see what is there and how much because everything is in jars:)
    I have some tea bags in a jar by my tea kettle for a quick grab. I make my own seasoning mixes (taco and ranch, etc) and they too are in jars next to the dried herbs from my garden.
    I am so excited that they are bringing back the asparagus jars. I have 2 of these from my grandmother and love them for fermented pickles.
    Great post thank you for sharing

  14. Love this! I have my own “glass farm” going on, and this has given me plenty of great ideas on how to make use of them!

  15. We’re preparing to move to Africa as missionaries. This post gave me so many ideas! I had been thinking I needed (as advised) to buy a buy of Tupperware containers for storage, but I love the idea of using jars!!! Awesome! They can be used for canning, drinking, leftovers, etc. Thank you! :)

  16. I use my jars to make homemade butter. Pour a container of organic whipping cream into the jar and shake vigorously for 20 minutes. Chill. Drain off the buttermilk and save in a Mason jar to use for baking. Rinse and pat butter dry. Store in a half pint size jar.

  17. YAY for JARS! (Mason and otherwise)Okay, I’ve done all of the above except for the salads and the blender.

    I also use my to cook and reheat things–making dulce de leche/caramel sauce with a small jar in my crockpot (treat sweetened condensed milk as if you were going to can it, and ensure it’s covered with 1-2″ of water, as in a water-bath canner, just leave the crockpot on for several hours until it looks like caramel), and reheating a single serving of soup, spaghetti, anything (or multiple jars for multiple servings!) because I don’t use a microwave. I have one of those expandable steamer inserts that you set on the bottom of the pan (looks like a strange silver flower, the way it opens and closes), fill the pan with 1-2″ of water, cover and steam away, and it can heat things that don’t touch the sides of the jars, i.e. lasagna!

    I only just bought my Tattler lids last year, but have successfully canned with them, and LOVE them! The rings do wear out after several uses, I’ve been told, but I feel better using them than the metal ones that I KNOW have BPA in them (we’re trying to get pregnant).

    Also, I have found those white lids at WAL MART, of all places!! Do check, they’re pretty reasonable, but it doesn’t seem that they ever put their canning supplies on sale, at least not here–I checked all winter long, and they’re still there, all still regularly-priced.

    Oh, and I’m with Jessica–sharpie markers are the only way to go for me. We even mark our drinking glasses with them (yes, often mason jars of various sizes) when we have more than just hubby and me at the house.

    LOVE my jars!

  18. I use a grease pencil to label the plastic lids. I like the lid labeled as opposed to a permanent marker on the side. It has been the best of all different systems I have tried and comes off very easily when doing dishes.

  19. Did you know that you can use a mason jar as a blender jar? Great for grinding spices or making bread crumbs!

  20. OOH! Okay, I’ve done all of the above except for the salads and the blender.

    I also use my to cook and reheat things–making dulce de leche/caramel sauce with a small jar in my crockpot (treat sweetened condensed milk as if you were going to can it, and ensure it’s covered with 1-2″ of water, as in a water-bath canner, just leave the crockpot on for several hours until it looks like caramel), and reheating a single serving of soup, spaghetti, anything (or multiple jars for multiple servings!) because I don’t use a microwave. I have one of those expandable steamer inserts that you set on the bottom of the pan (looks like a strange silver flower, the way it opens and closes), fill the pan with 1-2″ of water, cover and steam away, and it can heat things that don’t touch the sides of the jars, i.e. lasagna!

    I only just bought my Tattler lids last year, but have successfully canned with them, and LOVE them! The rings do wear out after several uses, I’ve been told, but I feel better using them than the metal ones that I KNOW have BPA in them (we’re trying to get pregnant).

    Also, I have found those white lids at WAL MART, of all places!! Do check, they’re pretty reasonable, but it doesn’t seem that they ever put their canning supplies on sale, at least not here–I checked all winter long, and they’re still there, all still regularly-priced.

    Oh, and I’m with Jessica–sharpie markers are the only way to go for me. We even mark our drinking glasses with them (yes, often mason jars of various sizes) when we have more than just hubby and me at the house.

    LOVE my jars!

  21. Absolutely love mason jars and any glass jar for that matter! I too have a stash in my basement and I am consistently looking through them to find the right size. I use them in my pantry for dry goods like beans and dried fruit, leftovers in the frig, in the freezer, for homemade body butter, single servings of soup in the freezer, …..
    I wish I had saved more of Trader Joe’s jelly jars when they used the square mason jars.
    I just started using chalk board contact paper with a chalk marker for labeling. So far it’s working, but I wonder if the label will stay on through washing the jars….

  22. I too have a love affair with mason jars…

    I use them all over my house. My bathroom countertop has a few full of cotton balls and q-tips. I store buttons and other little craft supplies in small jelly jars. Paperclips, saftey pins, staples, thumbtacks are all in glass jars. I also have a few full of sand from our honeymoon and shells and seaglass from summers on the beach. We drink out of mason jars (they were salsa jars, and now I have a matching set!) Store dry goods in my pantry and leftovers in the fridge. There is almost always flowers in a mason jar on my kitchen windowsill. :)

  23. JennErin@Moody says:

    They happen to be my husbands favorite drinking glasses! Its so easy for him to get his large hands inside of them when it is time for us to do the dishes.

  24. I too have a love affair with mason jars….and I blame it on my Mama. :-) I just love the option of putting flowers in them.
    We actually are trying to buy a home that has a FULL STOCK of mason jars in the basement!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! It’s a bank owned property and is sold “as is.” LOL I might be more excited about those jars than anything. ;-)
    One day I want to make a kitchen chandelier with the blue mason jars. Ahhhhh. Dreaming. :-)

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