We use wide mouth glass canning jars every day for storing foods. We hardly ever use plastic any more. Why? Well, we find the glass jars very useful and we don’t like plastic. I’ll explain why.
These work really work for a variety of uses in our kitchen and sometimes beyond. As the photo above shows, we use them for long-term food storage. Most of the things there we bought in bulk at local food coops and natural food stores. Left to right, you see raisins with goji berries behind them, black beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, multi-colored popcorn, dark quinoa, and brown rice. Clear glass canning jars are great as kitchen canisters for instantly seeing what is inside them. There are two sizes on that shelf, the one quart and the two quart. We also use pint and half-pint jars a lot. We stick with wide mouth jars most of the time but do have a few glass jelly jars as well.
Many of those items we vacuum seal between uses, and here is another article I did on how to vacuum seal canning jars.
But it isn’t just long-term food storage that we use these jars for. Here’s a look in our fridge:
On the top shelf, that is homemade buttermilk on the right… will write soon about how we do that. We also keep a couple of glass jars of water on the left, and for sentimental reasons I use a couple of old V-8 jars. I still remember my mother, years ago, exclaiming over the attractive shape of those bottles.
On the middle shelf, there are meat scraps for our dogs, leftover rice pudding, leftover salad, something dark and mysterious which is probably Kelly’s homemade salsa, hard boiled eggs, and in the back that is homemade peanut butter. In the door, one jar has grated Romano cheese we got in bulk.
The other glass jar has “better butter” which is an old Adele Davis recipe of half butter and half oil. We use walnut oil for that as it has very little flavor and the butter flavor comes through nicely. It has a great texture, easy to spread — that is why we do it. By the way, the lid on that jar says Kerr but generally we prefer Ball canning jar lids, as they work better for us when we vacuum seal jars.
With all these jars, we are usually washing some in every batch of dishes. For storing them, we use a section of our lower kitchen cabinets with doors on, and we store the jars without tops. The lids and rings get tossed into a large box on the same shelf.
We usually buy these things at a local chain grocery store, and we have noticed that they have a better selection than Walmart does. You can get them online too; this link takes you to wide-mouth Ball pint jars at Amazon.
Once in a while we do break one, but it’s rare enough to not be a problem.
it’s very hard to tell if plastic has any chemicals in it that might be leaching into the food. According to the ever-informative Enviromental Working Group,
BPA is found in polycarbonate plastic food containers often marked on the bottom with the letters “PC” recycling label #7. Not all #7 labeled products are polycarbonate but this is a reasonable guideline for a category of plastics to avoid. Polycarbonate plastics are rigid and transparent and used for sippy cups, baby bottles, food storage, and water bottles. Some polycarbonate water bottles are marketed as ‘non-leaching’ for minimizing plastic taste or odor, however there is still a possibility that trace amounts of BPA will migrate from these containers, particularly if used to heat liquids.
Safer products and uses: When possible it is best to avoid #7 plastics, especially for children’s food. Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are safer choices and do not contain BPA. Find baby bottles in glass versions, or those made from the safer plastics including polyamine, polypropylene and polyethylene. Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA. Bottles used to pump and store expressed breast milk by the brand Medela are also labeled BPA-free.
You can read more on this page: http://www.ewg.org/bisphenol-a-info and browsing that site can give you further information about how plastic by-products end up in lakes, rivers, oceans, and newborn babies. Grim.
We do buy foods that come in plastic, such as yogurt, and we do keep a few of those around in case we want to give someone some food. We recycle the rest. All in all, I expect we will keep on using glass canning jars!