Get Organized With Mason Jars in the Kitchen

CC BY 2.0. shalommama/Nina Nelson

Strong, versatile, easy to clean, see-through, and plastic-free, Mason jars are an asset to every kitchen.

Is there anything the mighty Mason jar cannot do? Strong, versatile, easy to clean, see-through, and plastic-free, Mason jars are an asset to every kitchen, which is why you should start stockpiling them now. My approach is never to turn down Mason jars when offered, and always to pick them up if I see them at a yard sale or thrift store. Mine come out on a daily basis, in all different shapes and sizes, to serve a variety of purposes. Here are some ways in which Mason jars can make your kitchen – and, by extension, your life – more organized.

Use jars to store leftovers.

It can be difficult to find the right container and lid at the moment I need it, but it’s always possible to find a Mason jar and screw-top lid! Wide-mouth jars are particularly good for food storage, and I use a funnel to pour soups, stews, and dals into the standard-sized ones. You can also microwave them in the jar to reheat.

Store salad ingredients.

Wash lettuce, arugula, and spinach, rip or chop into small pieces, and put in a large Mason jar. It will stay fresh and crispy for days, as will sprouts. You can also keep herbs upright in a jar, with a bit of water. Same goes for washed, chopped fruits for salad garnishes, fruit salad, or plain eating.

Freeze foods.

You can freeze foods in glass, as long as you leave plenty of space for expansion. Freeze with the lid off initially, then add it later to prevent freezer burn. I love jars for freezing homemade ice cream and leftover stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, homemade pesto, and excess grated cheese.

Use as an emergency lunch container.

Did you forget to run the dishwasher before school? That’s when you can pack your kid’s lunch in a small Mason jar (or two). Just don’t tighten the lid too much. Take a Mason jar in your bag as an on-the-go coffee cup; it's sealable and leakproof, although it can get hot.

Store dry goods.

Time for a pantry clean-out? Transfer dry goods, such as flour, cornmeal, beans, lentils, quinoa, couscous, rice, and small pasta into glass jars, rather than keeping them in boxes. Food will be more visible, you’ll be able to monitor quantities better, and you decrease the risk of bugs getting in. Better yet, take them straight to the grocery store for zero-waste shopping.

my pantry

© K Martinko - My pantry features lots of jars.

Use as a junk corral.

Not that you have any junk kicking around the kitchen... Well, I’m kidding. Don’t we all? Mason jars are perfect for storing elastics, twine, batteries, twist ties, a stack of cupcake liners, etc. That way, they’re easy to see, easy to reach.

Use for food prep.

Mason jars are great for preparing busy weekday meals ahead of time. You can make salads in a jar, overnight refrigerator oatmeal-in-a-jar, veggies with hummus, and noodle bowls. You can even layer chili with cornbread batter on top, and bake in the oven for a really delicious on-the-go treat. Make salad dressings in large quantities and store in jars, measuring out single-serving amounts into smaller jars for packed lunches.

Jars are great for fermenting foods like kombucha and kimchi; making homemade yogurt; drying herbs from the garden (I stand them up in the jar and leave them by the window); mixing spice rubs; making iced tea or homemade fruit juices; storing sourdough starter, bacon fat, or homemade lard.

Store kitchen utensils.

If your utensil drawer is jamming, or if you need quicker access to spoons and spatulas while cooking, stick your utensils upright in a large Mason jar and set in a convenient spot.

How do you use Mason jars in the kitchen?