While mason jars are popular vessels for jams, homemade canned goods, pickles, candles, herb gardens, and for some, sweet iced tea, they are incredibly handy kitchen items to keep around.
These jars are inexpensive, often sell for under $1 a piece, and are available in online and at superstores. This kitchen standard has been in popular use for more than 150 years, and was named after its inventor, John Landis Mason, who patented it in 1958.
They are also referred to as Ball jars after the company that was an early glass manufacturer. The general idea is that it has a wide mouth, and a metal ring often called the band, and a separate metal disc that when used properly, a hermetic seal is achieved. While the jars themselves and the bands are reusable, it is important to use new lids for any canning use.
Here are some versatile uses for this handy little container.
1. Pre-made portioned mixes
If you are a baker, then you know how much time you can save if you have some pre-made mixtures stored and ready to go for easy use. This can be done for the dry ingredients for pancake batter, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, biscuits and more.
If you know that you make pancakes almost every Sunday, then it might be helpful to take some time and pre-measure ingredients a week out, just so you won't need to give up any family time in order to measure out each individual ingredient.
2. The original leftovers container
Whether it is for some leftover gravy or some fresh stock, the mason jar is a convenient vehicle for this kind of storage.
The wide neck design makes the transfer of the food easier, and you can always use a funnel if you are worried about your aim.
3. Mad money
We are so reliant on our credit cards that we sometimes don't have any cash on us, and sometimes that can be really inconvenient. A mason jar is an incredibly convenient piggy bank, as you can access the money when you need it.
Put in a selection of denominations and you will have a stash of cash for tips and/or a pizza when the time calls for it.
4. Storing herbs and spices
Spices do not last indefinitely, but one of the problems people have with keeping herbs and spices fresh is that most storage makes identifying them a little harder. Their wide neck makes mason jars a great vehicle for putting in the herbs and spices and having a big round lid.
The lid then makes writing the names of the items easier and bigger, so you always know what you are dealing with. Also, you can use these jars to make your own spice blends so they will be ready when you need them.
5. Where's my pen?
Even though we love our digital devices, we still need a pen from time to time, and that pen often finds a way of escaping just before we need it.
By putting extra pens and pencils in a mason jar, you will always know one place in your home that has a pen in it. Whether or not the pen chooses to work when you need it, however, is a very different issue.
6. Organizing measuring spoons
Also, in the name of storage, there are a few items that never really stick together, even though we want them to. Measuring spoons are typically sly little minks and they tend to separate themselves from the ring from which they came, never to be seen or heard from again.
By putting the spoons in a mason jar immediately after use, you will always keep the set complete.
7. Making your own flavored vodka
Making your own infused vodka or Kahlua is not only fun, but appreciated by most adult non-teetotalers.
While using old liquor bottles is one way of gifting or using these items after they are made, using a mason jar in the creation and gifting of them is convenient and looks pretty.
8. Thickening slurry
There's one thing we can all agree on: gravy is good. While most gravies use a roux, an equal parts mixture of fat and starch for thickening and flavor, sometimes an old fashioned flour and water slurry is what you need to thicken your stew.
Shaking it up in a mason jar is quick and easier than using a vessel without a lid.
9. Keep candy fresh
Most candy comes in bags and if not eaten immediately, it can go stale. A mason jar is not only an attractive way of displaying colorful candy, but it also keeps it fresh longer.
10. Save drippings
Everything is a little better with bacon, and if you can't find a reason to put bacon itself into a dish, there is usually a place where you can add some drippings and make almost everything taste a little more delicious. But, where should you keep said drippings?
A mason jar is perfect. The sealed lid will keep it fresher longer and will keep it from developing any icky flavors picked up by the fridge. Also, this is another case why the open neck design is so useful in transferring the drippings to the jar.
11. Portable sewing kit
Most households do not have a standard sewing kit anymore. There may be a needle and some thread somewhere, but it isn't as convenient. A mason jar fits all the necessary items to do quick fix with loose button.
Now, you say you don't know how to sew on a button. Time to learn!
12. First aid or emergency kit
Under the same principles of a sewing kit, it is important to keep a first aid kit around the home, and if you are accident prone in the kitchen, using a mason jar to store some medical supplies is usually a good idea.
Put in some bandages of various sizes, burn ointment and other small medical supplies and keep in your pantry, just in case.
13. Cocktail shaker
Is it five o'clock yet? Well, somewhere it is. A mason jar makes a great cocktail shaker in a pinch. Just pour in the ingredients and stir or shake.
You can even poke holes in a lid if you want to mix, change out lids and pour with panache.
14. Makeshift vase
Appreciating the little things can be difficult sometimes, but the simple natural beauty of flowers is uplifting, but not everyone owns a vase. That's ok, a mason jar is practical and versatile.
It holds showy orchids, and simple daisies with the same elegance. So, when you pass by a florist, street vendor, mega market-stand, or your own garden and think that those are pretty, but alas, I do not have a vase. Don't despair. You have a stash of mason jars, so you never need to be free of floral beauty ever again.
15. A swear or goal jar
Having a jar visible where someone needs to put money if they break a rule or say something mean or inappropriate can be quite a deterrent. The opposite may also be true.
If you have a long term goal like a trip, a fancy pair of shoes, or a once-in-a-lifetime expensive restaurant experience, and have a labeled visible jar, you may be surprised how fast the money can add up if you put your spare change in it whenever you pass it.