Mason jars, the farmhouse canning staple, are durable, charming and—best of all—easy to come by, whether they’re already in your kitchen or at the local hardware store. These glass jars can be used for more than just their original purpose, which is canning to preserve food. Ball and Kerr are the most common brands of Mason jars in the U.S. They have the traditional screw-on metal lids, and come in many sizes. If you pick up a flat of pint- and quart-size jars to stash on a shelf or in the garage, you will always have a jar handy for a new project. And if you’d rather display your empty vessels as they await a purpose, clear glass jars lined up on a floating shelf look tidy and uncluttered. Here are our 12 favorite ways to use Mason jars.
Light it up: Make your own candles in Mason jars. You’ll find everything you need at a local hobby store: a spouted container for melting wax on the stove, soy wax or beeswax, prewaxed wicks in the clips, and glue dots to hold wicks in place while you pour wax into the jars. You can add essential oil for scent, too. Wide-mouth jars help candles burn evenly.
Storage space: Do you battle bathroom clutter? Wake up to a clear countertop by stashing hair ties, bobby pins and razor blades in separate small jars. You can see exactly what’s inside, yet everything has its own space, preserving peace of mind.
Bathing beauty: Bath salts packaged in pretty Mason jars make a gorgeous gift—or look good sitting by your tub. Scoop dead sea salt or Epsom salt into a bowl using your Mason jars. For four finished jars, put four jars of salt into a bowl. Add 25 to 50 drops of your favorite essential oils. We love lavender and eucalyptus and use 25 drops of each. Mix with a wooden spoon until oil is evenly distributed, then scoop back into jars and add lids. To use, pour under running bath water.
Mason jars can come in handy as a simple vase for cut flowers. Whether you prefer abundant wildflowers, riotous roses, massive peonies or lovely lavender, whatever flower you have on hand will look stunning in a Mason jar.
Storage central: Package leftovers in Mason jars. The jars store food in convenient portions, plus they are easy to transport or stack in the fridge. Last night’s casserole makes a delicious lunch—when it’s easy to grab and go, it’s also incredibly convenient and chemical-free.
Botanical bunch: Prolong the life of your gargantuan bunch of cilantro or parsley by storing them right out in the open. Trim the stems, place in a wide-mouth jar, add a bit of water and place on the counter. Your fragrant bouquet will perk up your kitchen counter, and because you will be able to see the garnish you have available, the remaining herbs are less likely to languish in the vegetable bin. Change the water every day or so to keep your herbs fresh.
Bulk bins: The bulk section of the grocery store is packed with the dry goods you need at the prices you want. Bring home your rice, beans, flour and even nutritional yeast, then transfer them to appropriately sized Mason jars. Ball makes 1/2-gallon and 1-gallon jars perfect for bulk buys of pantry staples. The clear glass allows you to see what you are storing, and they are pretty enough to line your kitchen shelves.
Light & easy: When the weather is warm, a microwaved bowl of soup for lunch just doesn’t cut it. Embrace the bounty of the growing season by packing a salad in a large quart jar for a midday meal. Layer the salad to avoid any wilting: Add dressing first, then toppings such as honey-infused goat cheese; roasted mushrooms, beets and zucchini; and grated carrot. Top with salad greens, and store in the fridge. Make four or five on Sunday night and grab them for lunch throughout the week.
Breakfast to go: Bring oatmeal to work for an easy, healthful morning meal. Add a serving of oatmeal to a pint Mason jar, then scoop in your favorite toppings. Try dried fruit such as raisins or dates and superfoods such as flax seed or chia seed. Put the lid on your jar and toss it in your bag. When you’re ready to eat, use the hot water spout on the office coffee maker to carefully cover the oats with piping hot water. Stir and let sit for 15 minutes, then microwave for 1 minute, let cool and eat.
Drink up: Make a low-stakes to-go cup for your morning smoothie or iced tea with a Mason jar. Grab a Cuppow or Ball Sip & Straw drinking lid, pop it on top of your jar, and your smoothie is ready to go.
Dessert dash: For to-go sweets at a picnic or a fun, edible party centerpiece, bake cupcakes right in a jar. Use the butter wrapper to wipe the inside of the jars you plan to use: Wide-mouth jelly jars work well. Whip up your favorite cake recipe and pour the batter into the jelly jars, filling them about a quarter of the way to the top. Place the jars in a shallow baking dish, and add 1/4-inch water to the dish. Bake according to cupcake instructions, then remove from oven and allow to cool. Frost with your favorite buttercream recipe, and add the lids. Serve right away, or store in the fridge and eat within about three days.
Make a simple and beautiful lantern with a Mason jar. It’s very easy: Place a votive candle in a Mason jar. To fashion a handle, use copper wire to wrap around the lip of the Mason jar. (Watch a Mason jar lantern video tutorial.)
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