One thing they don't tell you when you start homesteading is how many mason jars you will need. Seriously. It is amazing how many jars I now own. I also was not aware of how many shapes and sizes jars come in. And did you know there are entire lines of products that can be used with your mason jars? Mason jar accessory lines. Yeah, me either. It wasn't until we had been homesteading for a few years that I realized just how extreme my collection had become. I know I sound fanatical and it looks like I am being paid to brag about mason jars, but I truly love them. (I would love to be sponsored by them since I've already spent a crap ton of money on them.)
Reason #1 - Canning
Sounds innocent enough. I am growing vegetables and fruit and want to preserve my harvest. I started with basic water bath canning jams and jellies. Harmless, right? Then the pickling happened and now I am pressure canning bone broth. I go through boxes and boxes of jars. My friends and family bring me their empties. I even give a fifty cent credit at the farm stand for each jar that is returned. They really are the ultimate in sustainable packaging. With a quick wash and sterilization, they can be reused countless times.
Reason #2 - Fermenting
Similar to canning, I found that fermented foods make our harvest last longer and provide us with great probiotic benefits. We make kraut, pickles, kefir, and a variety of vinegars. I use the MasonTops brand of Pickle Pipes. I make all of my ferments in the larger jars and then have to store them in smaller jars to keep them fresh longer. Maybe I should write another blog post on fermentation.
Reason #3 - To-Go Cups
You are about to see my crazy eco-side here. I hate disposable cups. Despise! When I found out my favorite size mason jar, the 24 ounce wide mouth fits in my cup holder, my life was changed for the better. I use both the Ball and EcoJarz lids with my metal straw for the perfect to-go cup. Really. It's amazing!
Reason #4 - Coffee Cups
Similar to the above reason, I like to carry hot tea or coffee with me when it's cold outside. I really love the Cuppow lid because it doesn't get as hot as the metal lids do. I also prefer the 12 ounce quilted jar. I love these so much I've learned to knit a coffee-coozie to protect my hands. These little jars are just perfect!
Reason #5 - Goat Milking
You read that right. I prefer using a glass half gallon jar for storage. I milk into a bucket but strain my fresh milk into mason jars to keep it super cold. Check out these awesome amber jars Ball just started offering. So cool!
Reason #6 - Pretty Storage
I love to keep my bathroom necessities in jars. I keep my nail clipping stuff together in one jar, Q-tips in another. I also keep my homemade deodorant and moisturizer in 4 ounce jars and sell our Healthy Hippie Starter pack in quart mason jar.
Reason #7 - Left-overs
I love using these wide mouth pint jars for storing left-over chili and soup. It is designed not to leak in my bag and heats up easily (after removing the metal ring and lid, of course.) Straight-sided jars can be used for freezing left-overs, too. Only use straight sides for freezing. The jars with shoulders will crack or explode when frozen. I speak from experience. Learn your lesson from my mistake.
Reason #8 - Seed Starting and Window Sill Gardening
Mason jars make a great place to start seeds. The clear sides help warm the seeds in a sunny window. If you plant the seeds on the sides, you can actually watch your seed sprout and grow. You can also plant herbs in mason jars to keep them handy in the kitchen. The one thing you need to monitor is the water in each jar. Since there are no drainage holes, you have to be a little more observant. You can add rocks or packing peanuts to the bottom of the jar before adding your soil to help this issue.
Reason #9 - Makeshift Lighting
In a pinch, you can place candles in mason jars for gorgeous mood lighting or emergency lighting in case of a power outage. I like hanging them outside on branches for a rustic lighting opportunity. If you are worried about little ones being too curious, you could use LED tealights for a safer option.
Reason #10 - Glassware
I would not be a true Southerner if I didn't mention that mason jars make great drinking glasses. This is especially true if you have teenagers or forgetful adults in your house that leave glasses everywhere! You won't get nearly as upset about someone breaking or losing a mason jar as you do your good wine glasses. We have been lucky enough in all our scrounging to have located some jars with handles. I'm pretty sure they sold jelly or something in them since mine don't have a brand name on them. You can buy similar ones here.
Did I forget something? Please let me know how you use your mason jars. I'm sure there are a hundred or more other uses for my favorite homestead accessory.
Vasek and Brooke
We are thrilled to share our homesteading successes and struggles with you. There's a steep learning curve here and we are ready for the challenges.