Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Why I Love Mason Jars, Forever and Ever

Recently I realized that I am an utter convert to mason jars. It sneaked up on me a little, but I fully embrace it now. My mason jar collecting began when I first attempted canning on my own, two summers ago in Knoxville. When it wasn't as scary or hard as I thought it would be, I started doing it more and more.

This past summer I canned pear preserves from our own tree, lots and lots of diced tomatoes, bruschetta, salsa, strawberry basil jam, and I recently got brave with my pressure canner and put up a bunch of turkey broth. I still have leftovers from my Knoxville summer as well: pickled squash, pickled cukes, and dilly beans. Next year I'm hoping to forge into new territory to pressure can even more!

Even if you don't can things, mason jars are an amazing multi-purpose kitchen tool. Aside from canning we also use mason jars as drinking glasses, leftover storage (especially great for soup, also good for storing portable salads), and dry goods storage (beans, lentils, couscous, etc.).

A few mason jar essentials that I hope I never have to do without:

Plastic mason jar lids 

Josh bought me a pack of these for Valentine's Day. Super romantic. Seriously. And these are much better for refrigerator storage than having to use the regular canning lid plus ring combination. And less likely to rust if I leave a jar full of gunk in the fridge for three months straight... ahem.

Canning accessory pack

This is an essential if you are going to do any amount of canning. 

Mason jar funnel

If you don't get the above canning accessory pack, please do get a mason jar funnel. It is invaluable when you're trying to transfer things like soup into a jar, or even for putting dried goods like beans into a jar. It has saved me from making a crazy mess on multiple occasions.

Tattler reusable lids

This is a canning-only thing. Oh man... I would love to have a bunch of these lids. The downfall of the standard metal lids are they can only be used once for canning. That's a lot of waste and a lot of needing to buy new lids on a yearly basis. These reusable lids are more expensive, but they last A LONG TIME. And that is awesome. Someday, I'll have a bunch of these. For now I will dream of having them.

And of course there's the jars themselves. I don't have a brand preference; I've used both Ball jars and Golden Harvest jars (probably the two most common brands) and haven't noticed a significant difference between the two. The sizes I use most often are pint, quart, and jam size (half pint maybe?). I do love my vintage blue mason jars too, of course, but the standard newer ones are great kitchen workhorses and I fully recommend using them in any form. They are usually about $8-$10, depending on size, for a pack of 12. You can find them most commonly in grocery stores and hardware stores.

Happy mason jar using, folks!

Yes, those are Amazon affiliate links. I like their convenience of having all the info in a neat little widgetwhateverthingie.

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