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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

101 Uses for Canning Jars

Cherie Langlois
Hobby Farms Contributing Editor

Cherie Langlois' 10 ways to use canning jars
Photo by Cherie Langlois
OK, I lied.  I haven’t actually figured out 101 ways to use them yet, but glass home canning jars, also called Mason jars, are just so versatile and useful that I couldn’t resist the title. 

I adore these things, and I’ll bet there are 101 uses for them out there (please contribute any ideas you have in the comments below!).

First, a bit of historical jar trivia, gleaned from www.pickyourown.org:  The glass Mason jar, with its reusable, screw-top lid, was invented in 1858 by a tin smith named John L. Mason. 

Up until that time, home canners had to make due with a glass jar, flat tin lid and sealing wax.  These affordable, easy-to-use jars revolutionized home canning, making the activity popular with farmers and city folk alike. 

In 1882, another type of canning jar emerged—one with a clamped glass lid called the Lightning Jar, invented by Henry William Putnam (I inherited a bunch of these lovely old jars from my mother-in-law, including some made from blue glass).  Eventually, Ball and Kerr jars—familiar to any home canner today—took over.

I’ve accumulated quite a collection of canning jars, of all different sizes, over the years, and here’s what I found these jars holding in my home today:

1.  Home-canned foods, of course:  red and green salsa, apple butter, blueberry and blackberry jam, some herbal jellies.

2.  Dried beans:  I use the jars to store beans, and have also layered different colored/sized beans (and pasta) in the antique jars for kitchen decorations:  Easy!

3.  Home-grown mint tea; homemade hot chocolate mix; Christmas chocolates.

3.  Dried herbs from my garden, store-bought bulk spices.

4.  Saved garden seeds for next year’s planting.

5.  Rose bud/lavender/sweet woodruff potpourri.

6.  Cotton balls, Q-tips.

7.  Made from scratch salad dressing and pancake syrup.

8.  Jewelry odds & ends; make-up brushes, mascara, etc.

9.  Tacks, nails, screws, etc.

10.  Candles. 

One Christmas, I hired a candle-maker friend to take some of my antique jars and make candles out of them for gifts (I kept several for myself).  They’re beautiful! 

If you need a candle-holder in a pinch—say during an unexpected power outage—simply take a wide-mouth glass canning jar (small or large) and stick a votive candle (or tea light) inside. 

You may want to layer some small, pretty pebbles on the bottom of the jar first to make a steady base for the candle.  For safety’s sake, place a glass plate underneath the jar and, as with any candle, never leave these unattended.

Hope your New Year is off to a good start!          

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101 Uses for Canning Jars

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Reader Comments
Hi Carrie,

You can read Cherie's article "Start a Farm-sitting Business" by visiting the following link:

Hobby Farms editor, Lexington, KY
Posted: 1/20/2012 6:16:03 AM
Loved reading this...Love my mason jars and I find many uses for them.
Question - How can I get a copy of your book, Cherie...Start a Farm-sitting Business? Please get back to me. My husband and I so much want to read about doing this very thing. Thanks so much.
Carrie, Belcamp, MD
Posted: 1/19/2012 12:36:54 PM
Kitchen - I use them to store tea bags. Makes a pretty display with a different type of tea in each jar plus keeps them fresh!

Kitchen - 1/2 gallon and gallon size are perfect for things bought in bulk or that come in bags: Oatmeal, Granola, Sugar, Flour, etc.

Crafts - I use them to sort & store ribbons by color family. Buttons, Safety pins, Embroidery threads and lots more!

Office - the 1/2 quart or pint size make great decorative storage for rubber bands, paper clips, pens, pencils, etc. a different jar for each item type.
Erica D, Monroe, WA
Posted: 3/6/2011 9:04:00 PM
I am a canning jar nut. I use jars for just about everything I can...and for canning too!!!
Tammy, Onalaska, TX
Posted: 9/25/2010 8:50:43 AM
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