An ode to the humble glass jar

Posted by Emily Eades on 3 May 2016


You’ve probably never given much thought to how brilliant an old glass jar can really be around the kitchen. But peek in any cupboard, fridge or spice rack and there they are, lined up, gleaming and ready for food storage action.

Whether you buy them new, or wash and reuse old jam, baby food or pickle jars – using them correctly can help give the food in your home a new lease of life.

To prolong the shelf life of your leftovers here's a quick guide to successful sterilising. 

- Wash the jars in hot, soapy water, then rinse well under the tap.

- Place the jars on a baking sheet and put them in the oven on a low heat to dry completely.

- If using Kilner or mason jars, remove and boil the rubber seals, as dry heat damages them.

1. Safely store homemade jam

Bubbling down fruit ends and on-the-turn berries with sugar and water is a great way to save them from the compost bin. Once your jam is ready, store it safely in a sterilised jam jar so it’s always scone, hot cross bun and tea and toast-time ready.

Homemade jam in glass jars

2. Make a home for tasty pickles

Looking at a limp cucumber or carrot and wondering if it’s destined for anywhere but the bin? Pop equal parts vinegar and water in a jar along with a spoonful of salt, then seal shut, refrigerate and look forward to tasting perfectly pickled veg (at their optimum best) in a few months from now. Delicious served in sandwiches, burgers or as a tasty and moreish snack.


3. Dried herbs

Fresh herbs on your windowsill starting to wilt? Chop them up; spread them out, bake on a low heat until dry then pop in a glass jar as a welcome addition to any herb and spice cupboard.

Dried herbs in jars

4. Mason jar cocktails

Family gathering in the diary? Not enough glasses to go around? Try serving your tipple of choice in a mason jar – all the cool kids are doing it.

Mason jar cocktails

5. Homemade sugar and salt

Rather than throwing away those squeezed-out lemon halves, zest the skin, leave to dry then muddle in a jam jar with sugar or salt, for a simple homemade infusion that stores brilliantly and tastes delicious.

Homemade sugar and salt

6. Prettify your pantry

Rice bag split open? Cereal spilling on the cupboard floor? No need to throw the packets out, simply pour into a Mason or jam jar and save until next use.

Pantry full of glass jars

7. Salad and soup servers

Old glass jars make great carrying containers. Stack your salad or soup ingredients inside, carry to work as an alternative lunchbox, add dressing or stock and serve.

Salad and soup servers

8. Salad dressing shaker

There’s no need to buy a shop-bought dressing when you have a few simple ingredients on hand and an old glass jar to shake them in. Throw a splash of olive oil, a glug of white wine vinegar and a squeeze of lemon inside a jam jar, shake vigorously, pour on your leaves and store the remaining in the fridge until next time.

Salad dressing shaker

9. One-pot puddings

They look pretty and they are a practical way to serve dessert at a stand-up party. Or, as we’ve found – a great way to portion-control a hungry brood.

One-pot puddings

10. Ingredients in a jar

Just remembered it’s someone’s birthday and have nothing to give as a gift? Raid the cupboards and pile hot chocolate, brownie, flapjack or cake ingredients into a jar, label it up and send with love. Phew.

Hot chocolate, brownie, flapjack and cake ingredients in jars

11. Cookie cutters

Using up what’s in your baking cupboard is fun when you’ve got hot- baked cookies as the prize. Can’t find that set of cookie cutters you were sure you had stored in a drawer? Don’t panic – an upturned jam jar without its lid will work just as well.

Cookie cutters

12. Homemade candy store

Seal-tight glass jars filled with leftover car sweets or the broken bits from the end of the biscuit tin are a great way to keep the bounty from going stale – and more importantly, keep the kids happy.

Jars full of candy

13. Poach an egg

If we had a pound for every failed poached egg attempt, we’d surely be millionaires. Get it perfect every time by cracking an egg in a glass jar before simmering in hot water until cooked. You can thank us later.

Cracked eggs in a jar

14. Tea and coffee caddies

Save money with supersize packs of tea and coffee, then decant into jars to store attractively on kitchen shelves.

Tea and coffee caddies

15. Instant milkshake

What flavour you opt for is up to you, but essentially chilled milk, ice cream and a spot of aggressive shaking is essentially all you need.  Looking for extra brownie points from the kids? An Instagram-worthy striped straw won’t go a miss.

Instant milkshake

16. Salt and pepper shakers

Punch a few holes in the lid of a sterilised jam jar, fill with salt or pepper and voilà.

Salt and pepper shakers

17. Grow your own herb pots

Take one fresh herb cutting, pop into a water-filled jar, add sunshine and watch the roots take hold. An endless supply of basil is yours for the taking.

Herb pots

18. Pancakes in a jar

For a tasty desert in seconds – fill a jar one-third full with pancake batter, microwave for one minute, drizzle on some honey and blueberries then devour.

Pancakes in a jar

Main image via: Shutterstock / Fotografiche


Like this? Then try these:

Get yourself store cupboard savvy

10 food hacks that’ll magically make your food last longer

An ode to the frozen pea