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Why Glass?

glass mason jars

Eight days into the New Year and it seems as though the post-holiday blues have hit.

We’ve had more than our usual share of cold dark weather here in Colorado, and all I want to do is go into hibernation, sleeping day and night. Of course, that’s not what’s taking place in my reality.

This time of year I find myself spending a good deal of time cleaning and sorting. I cleaned out the pantry and fridge the day we returned from our holiday trip, figuring out what I needed to restock. Above is a picture of the bottom shelf of my refrigerator. I store nuts and seeds (which have oils in them that can go rancid if not refrigerated) in the fridge. There’s also a jar of homemade soup stock on the right side of the photo.

Why glass, you ask?

I have been using glass mason jars for storage for more than a decade. I dislike plastic for numerous reasons. Start with petrochemicals, then move to xenoestrogens. You get the idea.

On a more practical level, glass is gorgeous and aesthetically pleasing. Built to last. No stains on glass, no yucky lingering food smells.

Glass is practical. Forget about the struggle to find matching lids. No mystery foods concealed by plastic hiding out in the back of the fridge turning into a science experiment. You can see your food. And my favorite part? Good use of vertical storage space.

Last but not least and possibly most important, glass is cheap –costs much less than plastic.

Top 10 reasons for glass?

  1. healthier
  2. visible victuals
  3. vertical storage space
  4. aesthetically appealing
  5. easy to clean
  6. no stains
  7. no flavor trespassing
  8. won’t melt in dishwasher
  9. matching lids
  10. cost effective

I buy glass jars at my local hardware store, McGuckin’s, you can also buy ½ quart (1 pint), 1 quart (2 pints) and ½ gallon (6 pints) jars online.


posted on January 8, 2008

  1. Wow. Just found your amazing blog! Love it!! I’m excited to revamp my kitchen with glass!!! I was just thinking that I would switch to glass yesterday, then found your blog today… funny, eh? I look forward purusing the rest of your blog! Happy day!

  2. LOVE IT. I’m in the process of “conversion” over here, (the plastic hasn’t quite made it out the door yet, only got as far as being retired to a top shelf) I think this was the final push I needed to “go and throw”! Isn’t it funny how such simple changes can bring simple joy to a woman’s day? :D

  3. Prairie Chick- Great luck with the conversion process! I can tell you from experience that once it’s done it feels great!

  4. ~M

    This post on using glass is great, with my favorite part being, “And my favorite part? Good use of vertical storage space.” I could hear myself think the same thing :)

    Since my apartment situation is temporary, and I’m a student without a paycheck, I haven’t bought glass yet. However, I have been keeping leftover glass jars of salsa (we like Green Mountain Gringo for store-bought), and I clean and dishwash them (with my new Ecover dishwashing tabs!) and they are great and free (with the salsa, that is!).

    Elana, what do you use or recocmmend as “tupperware” to store leftovers in the fridge (if that ever happens in your home) or for your family to bring their lunch to school/work?

    • sue green

      Pyrex dishes are great for leftovers Another advantage of glass, no bugs get in your food.I went to all glass when we had ants one time.You can buy bigger jars with air tightblids for flour,oatmeal,etc.

  5. ~M –I just finished packing lunch for the boys in mason jars. They are very sturdy and do not break unless the boys punt their lunch boxes –I broke them of the habit in 1st grade. For leftover storage in the fridge I use pyrex baking dishes that come with (shh!) plastic lids; my favorite though are the anchor hawking bowls with glass lids and I do have a loaf pan with a glass lid –just searched all over the web and cannot find the link to it :-[
    Basically though, my fridge is full of glass mason jars of leftovers. Pasta, broccoli, salad, whatever, it’s in a glass mason jar taking up the vertical space in my fridge!

  6. paul

    Hi Elana
    I like your ideas to eschew plastics for glass (maybe stainless steel too?)
    What do you think about re-using Knudsen juice bottles for water etc…

    My main question is this: what would you use once the tops start to rust?!!

    (I tried McGuckins and they don’t have a top that fits !!)
    I’d appreciate a email back but don’t want my email address out on the web please…
    local MD

  7. Hi Paul-

    Sometimes I use my Knudsen juice bottles to store beans and other pantry items. For drinking I use mason jars –carry them around with me. They are more durable than the Knudsen bottles and work quite well. When the tops of the mason jars become rusty or damaged, you can always get new ones.

    I hope this helps to answer your question.

    Elana

  8. Angela

    I am in the process of converting to glass as well. When my daughter was finally diagnosed I created a personal pantry for her- I stored all of her flours in plastic cereal containers. I have since converted our kitchen and home – we are all completely gluten free now.
    I have no trouble storing my flours, nuts and leftovers in glass jars in the fridge-

    my question is regarding freezing- I tend to make large batches of stock at a time and am aprehensive about freezing it in glass jars- I don’t like using the plastic but have no other options. I also make freezer meals for my husband to bring to work or to take out on Sabbath- I usually freeze these in Rubbermaid containers- any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  9. Angela,

    I freeze all of my stocks in 1 quart mason jars. The mason jars I purchase have a fill line which indicates a safe amount to put in the jar if you are freezing liquid in it. I tend to fill a little below this line and haven’t had any trouble with breakage when doing so.

    Per what to pack food in for meals on the go, I haven’t yet come up with a good solution. I use little wax paper bags –very wasteful:-( for the boys school lunches and sometimes a small mason jar for items such as yogurt or fruit salad; though this only works when they don’t punt kick their lunches up in the air like a football, which I have pretty much trained them out of. Still, even with careful handling we do get a broken jar in the lunches every now and then. My husband thinks I’m nuts to use the little mason jars, however I just can’t bear to pack their food in plastic, as I worry about the impact on their little bodies.

    You could always use a stainless steel thermos. Or, some Asian shops have little stainless steel lunch packs with a snap on lid; I purchased one a long time ago though can’t find it online.

    I hope this helps and lets keep in touch about more ideas.

    Thanks,
    Elana

    • Yolanda

      Have you tried thrift shops they are great for glass containers!

    • Yolanda

      Elana,
      I found the stainless steel stacking containers @ World market; perhaps they carry them in their online stock.
      Thank you for your website and sharing your ideas with us. I love glass!!!

    • Teresa Fischer

      Hi!
      I found some 1 3/4 cup corning ware containers on ebay (P-41B) that I use to freeze my leftovers, and then I take one to work the next day for lunch. They have plastic lids, and you can buy extra lids separately on Ebay, but there is also a glass lid for them. So, when I reheat my lunch, I switch out the plastic lid for the glass.

  10. Tara

    I am also trying to use mostly glass for food storage and transport. I was unaware that half-gallon mason jars exist, so I’m glad to learn that (although they are currently unavailable at Amazon). For leftovers and for my husband’s lunch to take to work, I use Pyrex glass containers (yes, with plastic lids). I buy them locally, but you can also get them at Amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/Pyrex-Storage-18-Piece-Round-Clear/dp/B000HAVOC6/ref=pd_bxgy_k_text_c

    The sizes of the Pyrex containers are usually “just right” for my storage needs. They can be purchased in sets or individually. They also come in rectangular shapes.

    I prefer the round shape for sending my husband’s lunch because the lids stay on better; the corners of the rectangles come up more easily. These work for my husband. I can imagine that spills and breakage might be a bigger concern for children’s lunches! My husband does complain that his lunch bag gets too heavy and bulky when I send several glass containers. But it’s better than plastic, in my opinion.

    Also, for drinking water on the go, we use Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottles, purchased at reusablebags.com.

    Elana, you mentioned the stainless steel lunch packs; those can also be purchased at the Reusable Bags site: http://www.reusablebags.com/store/togo-ware%C2%AE-2tier-stainless-steel-food-carrier-p-669.html Reusable Bags also carries other lunch container/bag options and other goodies.

    I hope that helps,
    Tara

  11. Dana- Scranton PA

    I am so glad to have found your site. This article is just what I was looking for to finalize my decision to go glass. I am not gluten free- but my friend has celiac so often I try to find good recipes for her.

    I have a question for storing fresh produce IE organic baby lettuce- I buy a big box of it from Sam’s Club and though we go thru it quick it still has to be stored for a day or 2. Do you have any ideas? Would paper bags work ya think? And since all of my fresh organic produce comes in stupid plastic bags- celery,carrots,greens,herbs etc any input on storing these would be much appreciated :-)
    Thanks so much for your hard work on this site. So much wonderful information for the up and coming green and natural convert.

  12. Tara -You are a dream! Thank you so much for forwarding all of that info. And, I am so happy to have a link to my favorite stainless steel lunch container.

    Dana -Thanks for your comment. I wash, rinse and spin my greens, lay them out to dry, then wrap them in a paper towel and zip them into a plastic bag. Although I do not like plastic whatsoever, I have found this to be the most effective way to store my greens. They keep for more than a week this way if dried entirely. I reuse the plastic bags again and again (being sure to line them with a paper towel, though you could line them with a brown bag) so that I go through about 1 box of Ziploc bags per year. I know it’s the dreaded plastic, however, for greens I haven’t found a better storage method. If you do, please write back and let us all know. Thanks!

  13. I just found your site from Sew, Mama, Sew and have been busy reading the whole thing the past few days. I love all of the recipes and am going to try out a few in the near future (when I can squeeze in some more cooking/baking!). I am dairy intolerant and try to use less gluten flours in our food (I suspect a gluten intolerance). Your recipes all look really good! Now for my glass question: what do you use to store juice (mixed from concentrate or juiced to be drunk later in the day), almond milk, and cold tea in the refrigerator? I have tried finding glass juice jars and such, but without much luck. We are transitioning away from plastics, so any help would be greatly appreciated! The glass mason jar idea is very clever and one I am going to start using immediately since our glass bowl collection is quickly used up storing leftovers and such!

  14. Hi Stacy,

    Thanks for your comment and glad you found us here.

    I also use the glass mason jars for tea, almond milk, juices, etc.

    Elana

  15. Emily

    Good evening Miss Elana!
    As we can afford, I am slowly getting rid of everything plastic (and aluminum!) in our home. I found some great mason jars at a shop nearby and purchased them but they are still waiting to be opened because I am concerned about their seal. These are the 2-piece type; they have cover and a screw on band. Are they the same as you use? Do you find that they create an airtight seal? I have been freezing leftovers in a few old mason jars I already had with the 2 part lids and I’m a bit worried they don’t fully seal. I wouldn’t want food to go off because of it not sealing properly or something like nut milk leaking.
    Also- I see your comment on storing your lettuce and greens. Do you find this works well with kale too? Do you chops and de-vine the greens or leave them whole? What size Ziploc bags work best? (The shelves in our fridge are made of plastic!!! This is a battle my husband will not let me win as he does not understand purchasing a new fridge when the one we have works perfectly fine) What do you store fruits in?
    I am also proud to say I have gone through less than 1 box of Ziploc bags in the past 6 months or so (ever since I learned about the effects of plastic)! I like to freeze fruit wrapped in parchment paper first, then placed in Ziploc freezer bags. I found that freezing fruit in mason jars results in one big frozen chunk and then you have to defrost the entire thing and use it all at once.
    Thanks for your input! As always, I appreciate your patience with all my questions. I love learning all about healthy living and wish I had learned these things long ago! :-)

  16. AmyRuth @ AmyRuthBakes.com

    I’m all about the visual and the economic justification. The health reasons must just be a bonus, right? Really great photo. I still have a long way to go, though.
    Thank you
    AmyRuth

  17. Enya

    Emily- you could try freezing the fruit individually first. I put the fruit whole in the case of smaller fruit like blueberries & strawberries or cut up in the case of larger fruit on a sheet pan and cover this with foil. Put the whole thing in the freezer and transfer it to the glass jars when the fruit has frozen. The key is not to freeze the fruit or veggies in a big blob. Make sure that each piece is barely touching other pieces.

  18. Caro

    I love the glass idea. I’ve started using glass jars for everything too. My husband just grabs a jar out of the freezer and heads to work with his favourite stews/chilis.

    We just moved into a very small space, so for a while we weren’t sure what to do with the ones that we were not storing food in, however, while we were moving in I dropped the box of our drinking glasses. So I improvised and served water in our mason jars to all our heavy lifters (friends who helped us move) and it just stuck! While they do not contain food in them we use them to drink out of, and when I run out of drinking glasses, I know I should start eating out of our pantry & freezer for meals :)

  19. Caro

    Oh sorry… forgot about the ziplock/greens storage thing…

    I only use cloth napkins in our house, and I’ve found that a thin cloth napkin in place of paper does a great job keeping greens dry. I also found large glass tupperware type baking trays (the lids are plastic though but I make sure food does not touch). I think Anchor makes them. And, they are square, so you can maximize space in fridges.

    This solves 2 issues… food touching plastic and it’s reusable many times over, all for the price of a box of large ziplock bags.

    Sorry for the bad grammar, but it’s late at night… time for bed!!!

  20. Emily -These are the types of mason jars that I use. I have them in all different sizes and find they work very well for food storage of all sorts. I store all of my greens the same way as I store my lettuce (wrapped in a cloth or paper towel in gallon ziploc type bags) though I do not chop anything until right before I use it. Sometimes I have to use 2 bags to accommodate the height of the kale. When I cook my kale we eat almost the entire thing, I just cut off the very bottom tips. I really like the veins as they are more crunchy. I freeze my fruit exactly the way you do with parchment and a bag or I use small size mason jars. You are very welcome, it is my pleasure to answer your questions. We are all learning all the time :-) It’s an ongoing process that doesn’t end!

    AmyRuth -Thanks :-)

    Enya -Love that idea, thanks for sharing it.

    Caro -Thanks for your comment. Go glass!

  21. K&S

    Just curious…my boyfriend and I have discussed using mason jars (for more than just the fact that I love them because they remind me of the farm) and our only thing that we’ve heard negative about it is that after a while the metal tops can make your foods taste metallic. Have you ever had an issue like this? Do you switch out your lids after a period of time?

    By the way, LOVE your recipes, just haven’t written yet :) About to try the yummy butternut squash soup recipe…and my boyfriend FREAKED when he heard me read him the split pea soup with smoked paprika recipe (being relatively new vegetarians it’s nice to find some yummy and fun recipes for different veggies).

    Thanks!!

    ~K&S

  22. K,

    I don’t fill the jars up to the top. When the lids look a bit worn and rusty I replace them.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Elana

  23. Sassybigbuttbeauty

    Elana, I am loving your blog with all your recipes. Everything I’ve tried has been simple and delicious!

    I see you buy your Mason Jars at McGuckins. Are they a good deal there? I prefer to support local business, but I’m actually down in Westminster so, sometimes, ordering online works better.

    I really appreciate you putting all the work into your blog. Thanks from one Boulder Rockin’ Mom to another.

    Kim

  24. Susan

    We use glass jars for so many things…making flavored vinegars, making tinctures with herbs, drinking glasses (and can make custom sleeves to soak up the condensation, protect the glass, and keep the beverage cool). I also use it to store dried herbs. And of course…we do use them for the standard canning reasons (o: Ball jars also make a great “recipe” gift….you can layer the ingredients for cookies, brownies, etc. and seal the jar and attach a recipe…so cute! Another idea I have not used yet…but I mean to…is portioning out my grains for breads in batch size (when I grind my grains fresh, measure the grains, along with the seeds, etc. jars by one batch size so when it is time to make the bread I just dump in the jar and get started with little measuring.

  25. ~M

    I have plenty of the 1 pint and 1 quart wide mouth jars. It looks like the lid of the 1/2 gallon jars are the same size, too. My question is whether you have any glass jars that have wide enough mouths to let you scoop with a 1/2 cup or 1 cup measuring scoop from the jar. I can’t quite fit my measuring scoops into my 1 quart jars. Thanks!

  26. Thanks to whoever tweeted this “back edition” of your blog. I agree, also for cheapskate reasons. Wee jam jars make a great way to pack a small amount of homemade salad dressing in a brown bag lunch. Medium sized peanut butter jars have a new life when I send home leftovers after a dinner party. etc. etc.

  27. Janabelle

    Don’t toss the plastic containers out. Recycle them into your craft room, use it for your nuts and bolts. Kids small toys. Remember reuse recycle reduce.

  28. Rachel

    I’ve been wanting to ditch plastic. Thanks for this awesome post! The Do-it-Best near me even has 1 gallon mason jars! I guess they are anniversary edition? Too cool!

  29. Teresa

    I do the same thing! We jar our own tomato sauce in September and as I use them I clean them out and store grains, nuts, etc. I love them!

  30. Valerie Wilson @ none

    I just found your website – how neat that you live in/near Boulder. I’m in Longmont!

    I have been mostly GF for about 2 years, making and baking many of my own breads, pastries, etc. I have been looking for a healthier way of cooking GF – looks like almond flour can help.

    I’ve been using canning jars to store beans n’ grains n’ things for years. I’m a long-time gardener and I enjoy “putting things by”, so have jars of assorted sizes to use. I use the plastic lids because they don’t touch the food (although they do out-gas, I suppose).
    I’ve been using BPA free plastics too, now that they’re available, with my vacuum sealed foods in the freezer.
    What are your thoughts on this?
    Thank you, Valerie

  31. Katherine

    I am a bit late to this conversation, but I make my own kombucha and store it (along with all my other food stuffs) in glass jars or containers as well. For those who are concerned about breakability, I bought a neoprene wine bottle sleeve and trimmed it to fit my jar. Keeps it insulated and it hasn’t broken thus far. Not the most elegant solution, but it does work and it should last for ages.

  32. Mama2one

    I just inherited all of my grandmother’s mason jars! All sizes for all kinds of storage. It’s a great everyday reminder of all the cooking she taught me. I have gotten jars at estate sales and such, but some days a real bidding war for jars.

    Love the website and all the recipes and advice.

  33. Lynn

    Hey Elana,
    I just started on my journey and even though it is confusing, frustrating, and just plain hard I am already feeling much better just 2 1/2 weeks in! I love the photo of your pantry. Your food looks safe! Would you please consider doing a blog story on what you keep in your pantry and frig and what you use as storage containers for everything? Thank you.
    Lynn

  34. Sheryl

    A friend sent me an email that you were having a giveaway of your gluten free books. It looks like a current giveaway although I don’t see anything on the site.

    According to the email, I needed to leave a comment about which flours I use. I use almond flour almost exclusively. I have tried flax seed meal, but did not care for the taste. I also have coconut flour in the house and while I don’t use it a lot, I do sometimes add it to the almond flour.

    Due to how expensive almond flour is (and that I have to go an hour away to get it), I don’t bake as much as I did pre-gluten free, but the most often baked treat is banana bread. Next most frequent is chocolate chip cookies, with brownies and pancakes being tied for third.

    Thanks,
    Sheryl

  35. I love jars! I love being able to see everything, and it’s easy too – just save old jam jars etc… Although I do have the problem of having to search through all my lids to find matching ones haha

  36. I have just discovered your books and blog. You are exactly what I’m looking for. Eating right, being healthy takes a lot of education, correct education. I’m going to be enjoying bread – finally!
    As to storing the nuts in the fridge, I buy in larger quantity. I’ve been told that keeping the nuts and flour in the freezer helps to keep them fresh longer. Is this true?
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  37. Alicia V @ none

    The more I read about mason & glass jars, the more I get excited about converting my pantry to glass! Thanks for your insight on the glass vs plastic debate! Even though this blog post is a few years old, I assume you’re still using glass?

  38. Anne Ritter

    I’ve been keeping our nuts in glass jars too but on the counter top. I basically have almonds & walnuts. What kinds of nuts have to be stored in the refrigerator or is it all of them?

  39. AmyC

    I like using glass to store nuts and seeds in the pantry too. I just started collecting glass jars as we use them. Since so many things come in glass jars, I can’t justify just plain out buying them. They aren’t that cheap here, but maybe I’ll go check out the local thrift stores and see if I can find some on occasion.

  40. ChristineP

    It depends on where you live. I have to keep almost everything refrigerated because Florida is so hot and humid. Glass is heavy and it shatters. As I get older, there are days when I can’t seem to keep a grip on anything. However, if you are preserving/vacuum-packing, then yes, I would go with glass. These days, at least around here, it is easier and cheaper to find plastic.

  41. Sorry if this was already mentioned, but http://www.reuseit.com/ is a great website for all things reusable. Yes, they do have some uh, plastic, but mostly a lot of really cool alternatives.
    I have mostly switched over. Hubs still uses plastic for lunch, he’s afraid of the glass…uses a plastic fork, too, although Ihave gotten thrift store forks in case he loses or tosses it. Sigh….
    Anyway, I am all over the Pyrex storage containers and mason jars!
    What do you think of the cuppow lids and inserts? http://www.cuppow.com/
    Thanks for the good info, I will be reading more of your blogs!
    :D
    Karen

  42. Liliya

    I started storing most food items in glass jars ever since I had a nasty experience with food moths! So, another plus of glass containers is well-sealed food and less likelihood of getting these nasty creatures in your food ;)

  43. Brittany @ wildgeart.org

    Elana do you store your nuts and dried fruit in the fridge or freezer for longer keep? That’s why I haven’t moved those items into glass yet (everything else I have is stored on glass) but with limited freezer/fridge space is still pit my bulk nuts in the plastic bags :-( I hope to some day have a large enough fridge but living in our apartment our fridge is so small.

  44. Terra

    Glass is awesome, but I recently read that the metal lids contain BPA…?

  45. Hi Elana, First of all thank you for sharing all of your wonderful recipes and for this great idea using glass vs. plastic. I’ve been saving my glass jars and reusing for food storage in the frig for awhile now. A friend suggested to me years ago that it was much better in keeping food fresher and, like you said, you can see it easier than in a plastic container. I like that it doesn’t hold the smell after something pungent had been stored in the glassware.

  46. Suzanne @ suzanneholt.com

    Great idea! I have never thought of using mason jars in the fridge, but it makes so much sense, especially as we try to eliminate plastic from our lives.

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