Is there anything more useful than a Mason jar? These sturdy glass jars have been around for over 150 years and have helped countless families preserve the harvest and store everything from nuts and bolts to dried kidney beans.
For modern Americans, Mason jars have rushed back onto the scene in full force, thanks to their clean good looks and extreme versatility. What other product can you grab at the store and turn into a retro lighting fixture, convenient storage container and an all-purpose cooking tool? The possibilities for putting classic Mason jars to use in your kitchen are nearly endless, and we’ve got 12 favorite ways to get you started.
The Basics: What You Need To Know About Mason Jars
Mason jars are typically available in grocery stores and hardware stores, and it’s easiest to find them in the summertime, when gardeners typically buy them in bulk to make homemade pickles and jams. You can also get them online, along with the rings and lids if you’d like. One important thing to remember about Mason jars is that the lids are usually sold separately. Classic lids come in two parts: a flat, metal disk and a screw-on ring that holds it in place. You can also find reusable plastic lids and craft lids made of wood or cork.
Mason jars come in many shapes, sizes and colors, but the most common sizes are the 4-ounce jelly jars, 16-ounce pint jars and 32-ounce quart jars. Jars also come in regular and wide-mouth varieties — an important point to double-check before choosing the lids if you need them. In general, wide-mouth jars are easier to use for just about every project.
How To Use Mason Jars In Your Kitchen
Display Your Dry Goods
Everything from flour and sugar to beans, rice, nuts and dried fruit can be stored in large Mason jars, and they’ll look especially attractive lined up on open shelves or behind glass cabinet doors to provide a uniform look to your kitchen. A metal lid and ring will look historic, but reusable plastic lids are more convenient.
Store Your Leftovers in the Fridge
Those reusable plastic lids also make storing leftovers a snap. Just fill a jar with whatever didn’t get eaten, screw on the lid and label the cap with a dry erase pen. If you don’t have space to describe the contents, at least write the date so you’ll know when to eat it — and when to give up on it.
Upgrade Your Change Dish
Do you tend to drop your loose change on the counter after a grocery store run? Turn your Mason jars into fun piggy banks by adding a specialized slotted lid. If you make a set of four, you can pre-sort your pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to make your next trip to the bank a breeze.
Organize Your Herbs and Spices
Small jelly jars are perfect for holding larger whole spices like peppercorns, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods. You can also preserve all those fresh indoor herbs you’ve been growing by hanging them to dry before storing them in Mason jars for winter use.
Keep Your Hands and Dishes Clean
Add a soap dispenser lid insert to your Mason jars for a much more counter-friendly look. These work for hand soaps and lotions as well as liquid dish soap. They look especially great if you choose a soap color that matches your decor!
Stay Hydrated All Day Long
If you’re worried about chemicals from plastic water bottles, turn a Mason jar into your new favorite drink holder instead. Sip & Straw lids let you turn any size jar into a travel cup for water or juice, and the wide straw even accommodates extra-thick smoothies and milkshakes.
Brighten the Table with a Bouquet
With Mason jars around, you always have a vase handy. This is one time when a standard-mouth jar is often better than a wide-mouth, as the narrower opening will hold your stems more upright. Pro tip: Arrange the flowers in your hand, then cut the stems to length all at once before popping your instant bouquet into your Mason jar.
Keep Kitchen Utensils Handy for Cooking
If you have a collection of wooden spoons and spatulas that don’t fit well into drawers, keep them at the ready right near the stove by storing them in a lidless, wide-mouth Mason jar. You’ll love the look and the convenience of having your favorite tools within arm’s reach just when you need them.
Bake Cute Dinner Rolls
Mason jars are built to withstand heat — so much so that you can even use them as baking dishes. For a super-cute appetizer at your next dinner party, try baking individual portions of your favorite bread or roll recipe in 4-ounce jelly jars. Be sure to prep the jars with a bit of olive oil and cornmeal to keep them from sticking, and serve only after they’ve cooled to room temperature — the glass will be hot.
Create a Romantic Mood
Jelly jars often come with pretty patterns in the glass, like raised berries, vines or diamonds. These make for sparkly votive holders if you drop a tea light in the bottom. It’s an inexpensive way to set the mood at the dinner table or on your coffee table for movie night. For best results, group several together in the center of a round table or line them up as a glowing runner along your countertop.
Crush Garlic and Tenderize Meat
Fill a pint-sized Mason jar with sand, and you have a great weight that can be used for all sorts of jobs in the kitchen. Use it to smash garlic cloves and break the skins for easier peeling, or use it as a meat tenderizer to flatten chicken breasts into filets that will cook faster. Keeping one of these on the counter also provides a paperweight when the windows are open on a breezy summer day.
Make Homemade Cocoa Mix
If you’re looking for the perfect gift, fill a Mason jar with homemade hot cocoa mix. To make it, use a funnel to evenly layer these ingredients in a quart-sized Mason jar:
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1 cup Powdered Milk
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 1/2 cup Miniature Chocolate Chips
- 1/2 cup Miniature Marshmallows
With all of these excellent ways to use Mason jars around your kitchen, we’re not sure how you can live without a set of them. And once you have the jars, who knows? Maybe you’ll even be inspired to try your hand at making homemade pickles, pasta sauce or strawberry jam this summer. After all, canning is what these amazing jars were originally designed for — though they’ve certainly proven their worth in all the other corners of your kitchen, too.