Mason jars are everywhere! In World War II, they were used to keep fruits and veggies fresh when food was in short supply. Now they’re popular in kitchens all over America. Mason jars also come in handy for gifts, wedding favors, and home décor.
Do you have stacks of mason jars that are just collecting dust? Check out how to keep them clean and all the different ways you can use them around the house.
What Food Can You Put in a Mason Jar?
Mason jars are mostly used for food storage. Fruit, vegetables, coffee beans, spices, rice, and dry pasta can all go inside of these canning jars. The airtight lid has a rubber seal that locks in place, keeping these ingredients fresh and preventing them from going stale.
Do you have a lot of food in your kitchen pantry? Store any of the following in a mason jar:
Spices & Seasoning
Whether you need garlic for a homemade pizza or sugar for your morning coffee, you can get it directly from a mason jar. Cut a few holes in the lid, and shake over your food or drink.
Mason jars were invented in 1858, and since then, they’ve been used to hold pickles. Bring a jar along to your next barbecue or picnic!
Celery and carrot sticks can go into a mason jar. Kale, spinach, snap peas, onions, and peppers are also great options. You can even make quick salads inside of mason jars if you want to bring a healthy lunch to work!
Peaches, strawberries, blueberries, and other fruits last longer in canning jars than they do in plastic containers. Fruits cost anywhere from $0.99 to $2.99 per pound, so you’ll get more for your money if you keep them fresh.
Jams & Preserves
Take breakfast to the next level by spreading a flavorful jam like blueberry, pumpkin spice, or apple cinnamon onto your toast. You can buy these preserves in mason jars at a craft fair, or make them yourself at home.
Bees keep honey in their hive, but you can keep yours in a mason jar! Mix a teaspoon in a cup of decaf tea to wind down before bed in the evening. You can also make your own honey BBQ sauce for chicken wings. Yum!
Oats & Granola
Does a bag of granola or box of cereal take up space in your pantry? Transfer it into a mason jar instead. You can use a teaspoon to scoop it out when you need it, which also helps with portion control.
We all get the munchies from time to time! Store nuts, pretzels, chickpeas, graham crackers, or popcorn in mason jars. It’s easy to bring the snack with you on-the-go, or leave it at your desk to chow on throughout the week.
Cooked or uncooked pasta can be kept in mason jars. Spiral, elbow, or thin noodles fit best, especially when using small mason jars.
It’s very easy to accidentally cook too much rice. Watch your portions by measuring it out ahead of time in mason jars.
Sauces, Salsas, & Dips
Sauce, dressing, salsa, or chip dip can be poured directly into mason jars. Keep them in your refrigerator for your weekly meals, or put them on the tables for a holiday party.
Yogurt is a great source of protein, calcium, and vitamins. Skip dessert and make your own parfaits in mini mason jars.
Grab a spoon – it’s time to build your own sundae in a mason jar! You can add classic toppings like caramel sauce, whipped cream, and rainbow sprinkles, or go crazy and top the jars with donuts or cookies.
Cake & Cookie Mix
Whip together cookie or cake mix inside of mason jars. You can find a ton of delicious recipes from Snickerdoodle to pineapple turnover cake. Choose one that makes you feel hungry, and give the mixes out as holiday gifts.
Coffee Beans & Grounds
No morning is complete without a mug (or two) of coffee! Store the grounds or beans in a mason jar, and leave it near the coffee pot on the kitchen counter. This makes it easier for you to brew that much-needed caffeine!
Mason jars are versatile, which means you can never have too many. Use one instead of Tupperware if you’re packing lunch for the road, drink water from the jars instead of plastic cups, or store ingredients inside to organize your kitchen.
Are Mason Jars Freezer Safe?
Technically, mason jars are safe for the freezer, but the jar may crack or break if it’s too cold. Avoid this issue by storing the jars in the refrigerator first. You should also leave them in the freezer for no longer than 2 to 3 days.
Follow these tips when freezing food in mason jars:
Use Wide Mouth Jars Without Handles
Allow Food to Cool Before Storage
Transfer Food to Jars With Tongs/Ladle
Label Each Jar
Do Not Fill to the Top
Cool Jars in the Refrigerator First
Store Toward the Front of the Freezer
Space Apart in the Freezer
Keep the Lid Loose Until Completely Frozen
After a long day of work, the last thing you want to do is cook. The good news is you can freeze homemade soups, vegetables, meatballs, chilis, stews, and other pre-made meals in glass mason jars. Thaw them out, pop them in a pot or pan, and dinner is served!
Can You Put Mason Jars in the Microwave?
A majority of glass mason jars can go in the microwave, but always check for the microwave-safe symbol at the bottom first. You also shouldn’t microwave the jars for a long time. Stick with quick-heat foods like rice, pasta, or queso dip.
Can Mason Jars Go in the Dishwasher?
Are you pressed for time? You can sterilize mason jars in the dishwasher on the top rack with a mild cycle and detergent. Always look at the bottom of the jar for the dishwasher-safe symbol, and be sure to wash the lids separately by hand.
Old mason jars are likely not dishwasher-safe. It’s definitely in your best interest to clean and sterilize them before storing food inside. By doing so, you’re killing any microorganisms that may be living inside of the jars!
How to Clean a Mason Jar
You can clean mason jars in the dishwasher, but it’s much better to wash them by hand instead. Boiling the jars helps sterilize them before use, making them food-safe and free from contaminants.
Are you ready to wash your mason jars? Follow these steps!
- Wash the mason jars with a scrub brush, warm water, and a mild dishwashing detergent.
- Rinse away all the suds.
- Boil the jars and lids in a pot of water. This sterilizes the jars before you store food inside.
- Let the jars and lids cool and then remove from water using tongs.
- Set the jars and lids on clean towel or outside to air dry.
Wash the mason jars with a sponge or scrub brush, warm water, and a mild dishwashing detergent. Do the same with the lids. If you have a bunch of jars to wash at once, you can fill up the sink and soak them inside. Wear rubber gloves so your hands don’t get dried out!
Rinse the suds off the mason jars. You need to make sure the jars and lids are totally free from soap before moving on to the next step.
Hot water will kill any bacteria that may be hiding in the mason jars. Let the jars and lids soak in a boiling pot of water for about 15 minutes. Turn the burner off after, and let them cool before handling.
Your mason jars should be completely cooled off at this point. However, to be on the safe side, use tongs to remove them from the pot of water. Set them down on a clean towel.
Set your mason jars on a towel to air dry. You can also put them outside in the sun if you need them to dry faster.
How to Remove a Smell From a Mason Jar
Nobody wants to deal with a gross smell. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to deodorize your mason jars. Try any of these methods!
A few drops of baking soda will remove odors in mason jars. Sprinkle it in the jars and let sit overnight.
White vinegar is a good natural cleaner. Fill your mason jar with about ¼ cup. Rinse after for 30 minutes.
After you’ve seasoned your chicken dinner, you can use leftover lemon juice to deodorize a mason jar. A few drops at the bottom can help absorb odors. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinse.
Cotton Balls Soaked in Vanilla Extract
Why let your cotton balls go to waste? Soak them in vanilla extract to help remove mason jar odors. You can even leave them inside the jars while they’re in storage.
A little burst of sunshine is a great way to remove odors. Keep your mason jars on the back deck if they’re really stinky.
Combine any of these de-stinking solutions for the best results. You can use them for both the jars and lids!
Why Do My Mason Jar Lids Rust?
Stainless steel is prone to corrosion, which means your mason jar lids may rust over time. To prevent this from happening, try to wash them by hand instead of in the dishwasher as much as possible.
Is Rust on Mason Jars Dangerous?
Iron oxide, or rust, won’t cause harm to your body unless it’s consumed in excessive amounts. This means a little on mason jars isn’t necessarily dangerous.
That isn’t to say you should start using rusty mason jars. If there’s too much rust on the lid, it could prevent you from properly sealing the jar. This causes the food inside to spoil, become stale, or in the worst cases, accumulate mold.
Always use your best judgment. A dirty, smelly, or rust-covered mason jar may not be the best when storing and canning food. It’s pretty inexpensive to buy bulk mason jars, so get replacements if yours are damaged or tarnished.
How to Reuse Mason Jars
It’s not all about food and drinks! You can use a mason jar for pretty much anything, whether it’s storage, home décor, or favors for a wedding or party.
Do you have old mason jars? Here are some ways you can repurpose them into something new!
Gifts for Special Occasions
Mason jars are basically gift bags in disguise! Decorate the outside, and fill them with candy or small trinkets. You can even pick a theme like “Spa Day” with nail files and lotion, or “Cocktail Hour” with mini booze bottles and mixed nuts.
Stay on trend by using mason jars as wedding favors. There are a ton of cute ideas like engraving a funny quote on the outside, or leaving them plain and filling them up with treats or popcorn.
Soap Dispensers for the Bathroom
Cut a hole in the mason jar lid, and buy the pump separately. These DIY soap dispensers bring rustic charm to your bathroom!
Lights & Candles
Whether you need centerpieces or just want décor for your home, you can’t go wrong with lights in mason jars. Use tealights, string lights, or candles. You can even hang these cute mason jars from a wall or chandelier.
Take your garden to the next level with a DIY mason jar bird feeder. Set aside some time for this craft in the spring, and you’ll hear pretty chirping every morning.
Utensil Organizer in Kitchen
If you do a lot of cooking, your cabinets and drawers can fill up awfully fast. Keep the essentials, like spatulas and whisks, on the counter in decorative mason jars.
Do you have the sniffles? Reach for a tissue in a repurposed mason jar. Just cut a hole in the lid, and feed the tissues through.
Planter or Flower Vase
Fill a glass mason jar with flowers or plants. This is more affordable than ceramic pots or vases, but just as pretty in your living room or garden!
Storage for Office/Art Supplies
Always have a pen in arm’s reach by keeping a bunch in a mason jar on your desk. Glass jars are also good holders for paintbrushes, Sharpie markers, and other craft supplies like glue and pipe cleaners.
Organize Cupcake Liners
This idea is genius! If you do a lot of baking, stack your cupcake liners in a mason jar. You won’t have to worry about them getting all over the place.
Holder for Toiletries
The bathroom counter can get really cluttered! Put your toothbrushes, Q-tips, makeup brushes, and other toiletries in mason jars. You can leave one on the counter or tuck it away in a cabinet.
Hanging Wall Organizer
Nails, screws, push pins, LEGOs, batteries, and even car keys can all go inside of a mason jar wall organizer. This is a great place for all your odds and ends, which means way less clutter in your junk drawer.
DIY Piggy Bank
Who needs a piggy bank? Keep your spare change in a mason jar. You can save for something big like paying off a car loan or going on a dream vacation.
Welcome Sign for Your Home
Home is where the heart is. Welcome family and friends to your humble abode with a DIY mason jar welcome sign.
Bring spooky fun with mason jar Halloween decorations. Wrap them in paper to make creepy mummies, or stick a few spiders onto the outside. A tealight inside adds to the eerie vibes.
DIY Snow Globes
Create your own winter wonderland in a mason jar. All you need is some festive décor, glitter, clear glue, water, and maybe a few decorative beads. These are adorable gifts for your family and friends.
Use the Lids to Make Ornaments
Don’t forget about the lids! You can use them to make your own ornaments for the holidays. The Christmas tree has never looked better!
Go for vintage charm by pasting black & white photos on mason jars. These DIY jars are great party decorations and also make wonderful décor above the fireplace or around the television at home.
Dog Treat Jar
Get your dog’s tail wagging by putting their favorite treats in a glass mason jar. The container looks adorable and takes up less room than a bulky bag.
How Long Do Mason Jars Last?
As long as you take care of them, glass mason jars are good for decades. You won’t have to replace them any time soon.
Food stored in canning jars will last for 1 to 2 years. It doesn’t necessarily go bad after that time frame, but it is at risk for tasting stale. Be mindful of using up the food you have preserved before you can or buy more.
What is Special About Mason Jars?
It’s not easy to find a product that can do it all, but that’s what makes mason jars so special. They have been used for over 200 years for food preservation, but these days they’re also great gifts, decorations, and party favors.
Mason jars are trendy because of their versatility and also because they’re cheap. You can get a case of 12 to 18 jars for less than $20. Whether they’re blue, come with a handle, or are mini, you’ll find a way to use a mason jar in your everyday life.
The Bottom Line
You should feel inspired to reuse mason jars! They’re insanely versatile, and as a bonus, they’re also easy to clean. Be creative and find a new way to use these jars at home!
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