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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
14. Tea and coffee caddies
Save money with supersize packs of tea and coffee, then decant into jars to store attractively on kitchen shelves.
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.
16. Salt and pepper shakers
Punch a few holes in the lid of a sterilised jam jar, fill with salt or pepper and voilà.
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.
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.
Main image via: Shutterstock / Fotografiche
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