I was washing dishes the other day and this jar came to the top of the pile. It’s a jar I bought honey in when we lived in California — seven or eight years ago now. This is what I love about mason jars — that they last forever.
About a year ago I got rid of all the plastic containers in my house. I bought a bunch of old pyrex refrigerator storage containers on eBay, and I’ve been using canning jars for everything else. It works perfectly. For braised things like the pork with New Mexico chile (thanks Deb for the chile — it’s SO delicious) I use one of those flat yellow pyrex dishes with the lid. For soups and anything else semi-liquid, I use canning jars. I also have all my dry goods stored in canning jars in the pantry — beans, rices, dried mushrooms, salted black beans.
The thing about canning jars — they’re cheap. You can find them in secondhand stores for almost nothing, or you can buy a dozen brand new jars with lids and screw tops for 8-12 bucks. While you can only use a lid once for proper canning, for just everyday storage, you can use them over and over. Just wash them. And glass is inert. There’s no weird chemicals leaking into my food. And I think they’re very attractive — I love my pantry with all the jars lined up, where you can see all the different beans and peas and other stuff.
As anyone knows who has been reading my little site for any time now, I’m really interested in older technologies that still work well. I like new technologies too — don’t get me wrong, I’m having a ball with all the Web 2.0 stuff we’re doing at work, and if it wasn’t for new technology I wouldn’t be able to live here in Montana. But I’m also really interested in the older stuff that suddenly a lot of us seem to be rediscovering. Canning. Knitting. Growing veggies in your backyard. Maybe this financial crisis will inspire some more of this kind of rediscovery. Ways of living with less waste, more reuse — consuming less quantity but perhaps a little more quality? A tiny silver lining perhaps?