Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mason Jar, Oh Mason Jar

So today, August 17, 2013 is National Can it Forward Day. I won't be canning today (I will be drying 12 cups of diced green onions though. So don't worry. I am not slacking!) but I thought I would blog about a similar topic. My beloved Mason Jars!!!

I never thought I would find so many uses for my Mason jars. Most avid readers know I've been canning since we owned a home. I inherited my dad's canning pot and family has hand-me-downed many jars. I've had to purchase cases of jars as well to keep up with my canning volume. I love doing it and feel great about knowing what is in my food. There is a downside however. We have jars coming out of our yin yang year round. If I only had a completely empty cabinet in my kitchen to store empty jars! Yeah, right. So, for years we've been tripping over jars. Occasionally, as a dozen jars piled up next to the drying rack, I'd coerce Jason to finally take them to the basement canning shelves. Then there were the rings and plastic lids, oy! Those resided in a messed up pile that fell out of a cabinet every time I opened it. I knew I had to use/look at jars differently. So, I began using them for more than just canning. Makes sense, right?

Here's a list of uses, up-to-date:

1. Canning/preserving, of course
2. Storing salads to take to work- thank you pinterest!! You put the dressing on the bottom of jar, veggies that won't get gross sitting in dressing next, toppings, cheese, then lettuce on top. Then when you are ready to eat lunch, you dump out jar onto a plate. So, what happens? Now, your dressing is on the top! This would allow me to make 5 salads on Sundays! Nice!!
3. Drinkware
4. Storage- have you ever stored left over food in a mason jar? They fit so nicely in the refrigerator. I recommend only using the wide mouth jars for this as it is easier to get food into the jar (and out again!) For food storage that isn't preserved, I use the plastic screw top lids!
5. Giving made food away. I make lots of yummy dishes here and there and give it away, mostly to my mom but sometimes friends and such. The jars make transportation much easier and I only have about a million of them so why not. I wouldn't want to be missing my favorite pyrex storage container for months until the borrower finally remembered to return it. Also, how many people actually have mason jars in their house? Not as many as you would think. If you are one of those people and you keep seeing this jar in your kitchen, you are probably going to remember to get it back to me!! I have a rule of thumb... if you return my jar, you will get tasty treats again!! No jar return, "no food for you!"- pun on Seinfeld's Soup Nazi, did you catch it?!!
6. Mixing bowls- anytime I need to mix a bunch of liquids for a marinade, vinaigrette, etc, I use a Mason jar. Why? Two primary reasons. 1. I have the plastic screw lids, so I can shake to mix instead of trying to mix with fork/wisk. 2. Have you ever looked at the side of a Mason jar? There are measurement markings for cups and pints. By nature, I am a chef who always estimates. This helps with accuracy of my estimates!
7. Bubble jar for the kids. Their wands fit perfectly.
8. Baking- a few Thanksgivings ago... they were delicious!
9. Gifts- a few Christmases ago, I made those "cookie mix in a jar" gifts. You know the holiday gesture gifts for colleagues and friends, etc. It was great. $9 for a dozen jars ( I think I did 12?) and $10 for flour, sugar, choc. chips, brown sugar and I had 12 gifts. Of course, there was a cute label (wish I had a picture) that said, "Cookies for Santa, All our love, The Eitings." You're welcome, if you received one!!
10. Shaking homemade lemonade- don't forget the measurement on the side of the jar. No one will know if you are measuring lemon juice or cherry vodka... wait, what? Vodka in cherry Pepsi!! Said who? Shhhh!
Please leave a comment if you've seen me use them in a way I forgot to list!

After looking at how I use the jars differently I realized that they kind of define who I am. My mascot, if you will! They don't define me in my entirety but if you know me I am sure canning, freezing, jamming, saucing, comes to mind. Since we now use jars on a daily basis I put out an APB on anyone in the family with blue jars that they weren't using and I found 4 down the road at a yard sale with the original style lids for $10. My canisters on my counter were getting very old and the seals weren't working any more. Not to mention, I hated looking at them. So, I replaced my old silver canister set with some blue Ball jars. I think they fit very nicely in MY kitchen!
My jars! What's in my jars... dried cherries, coconut, raw sugar, corn starch, quinoa.

This year is also the 100 year anniversary of Ball so they have put out anniversary pint size blue jars. I treated myself to a 6 pack to use as drinkware!

I wonder how I'll use them tomorrow!!

A few Ball/Mason links I like!! Happy National Can it Forward Day 2013!

Ball's Pinterest
Ball Recipe Facebook
My Canning Bible- I think my dad bought it for me! I have the edition with the blue cover though!
My "Canning" Pinterest Board
Our Family Almanac of Preserving/Growing/Storing!- this won't fully be up-to-date until I do an inventory of the freezer after the garden is complete!!
Second row.. sliced almonds, wheat germ, pine nuts, dried parsley and whole almonds.

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