How To: Storing Food in Glass Jars

Sherrie Graham

Sherrie Graham › Sherrie Graham and her husband Adam live with their two boys in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, ...

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If you were to wander through my house, opening cupboards and looking in closets or around corners, you would definitely notice something common in every room. My husband would call it a bit of an obsession; I prefer to call it love.

My name is Sherrie, and I love glass jars.

You’ll find jars holding flowers, makeup brushes, craft and office supplies, oxygen bleach and laundry powder, herbs and soapmaking supplies, and acting as drinking vessels. But what I love them for most is food storage. With a few tips under your belt, you can use glass jars to safely and beautifully store food in your fridge, freezer, and pantry.

Glass jars can be found in just about every size, colour and shape you could possibly need. They can be bought new, of course, but there are glass jars lurking everywhere, once you start looking – thrift stores, pantries and closets of relatives, barns, and antique shops. They can be found holding everything from drywall screws to cotton balls, and doing a beautiful job.

Glass jars are especially well-suited to food storage, as they are inert and BPA-free. They won’t stain or hold lingering odours, can be tossed in the dishwasher, and are durable and long-lasting. They’re remarkably strong and resistant to breaking.

In the fridge: Fruit or simple syrups, fresh juices, soups, and layered salads to take for lunch are just a few of the things that you can store in glass jars in the fridge. My favourite way to use jars in the fridge is with reCap lids. They are reusable, leak-proof lids with spouts that are perfect for storing and pouring liquids. I find them especially handy for things like cream or broth, and they’re a pretty way to pour your cereal milk in the morning.

In the freezer: Freezing in glass jars has a few rules, but it’s definitely possible. Here are the important things to know. First, the best type of jar to use is a wide mouth canning jar (usually made by Ball or Bernardin, and sold for home canning). They’re made to withstand temperature changes and can handle being frozen. Liquids should not be stored in glass jars in the freezer, regardless of whether the jar has a standard or wide mouth. When liquids freeze and expand, the jars can crack and break, leaving you with a sharp mess. (Guess how I learned this?) Cooked beans and whole or sliced berries are perfect examples of the types of foods that freeze well in a glass jar. At least one inch of space should be left above the top of the food in the jar, and regular mouth jars should not be filled above the shoulder, to leave enough room for expansion. Food frozen in jars will need to be thawed gently before removing it from the jars.

In the pantry: This seems like an obvious place to use glass jars, and for good reason. If you’re using clear glass and storing items that may be damaged by light, tuck the jar in a cupboard with a door. Having reusable jars is a beautiful, stackable alternative to plastic or paper packaging that clutter up your shelves and make it impossible to find what you need.

Dried herbs, legumes, spices, leaf teas, rice, and just about any pantry staple looks lovely and is kept fresh in glass. And to me, there’s nothing prettier than a shelf of homemade pickles or jams gleaming in their glass jars.

Pro tips: Magic brand baking powder lids can be reused as leak-proof regular mouth jar lids. White plastic lids (not leak-proof) made by Ball or Bernardin can be bought where canning goods are sold and will fit wide or regular mouth jars. You can write on them with a permanent marker for easy storage and organization; the ink will wash off easily with some dish soap and a good rub. Vintage wire bale jars and/or those with glass lids should only be used for dry storage and aren’t recommended for safe home canning. Dark (amber) glass should be used to store perishable items such as olive oil and essential oils.

I hope that you’ve been inspired to dust off a few glass jars and put them to use in your own home!

Do you have another way to use glass jars at home? Do tell!

Photo Credit: Sherrie Graham