A few years ago, I attended the wedding of a friend. My then-fiancé and I focused a bit more on the production of the affair than we normally would, because we were planning our own wedding. It was a beautiful spring day in Placerville, California and we were being treated to a rather cute southern picnic, complete with sandwiches, iced tea, lemonade, and even a pie contest. But it was during this event that we first drank iced tea out of a mason jar, something that kind of blew my mind. I feel like I’d heard of mason jars being used for various uses before that moment, but I don’t think it really clicked with my mind that they could be used for even the most ordinary of daily circumstances.
For our own wedding, we ended up giving mason jars to our guests to use for their various choice liquids. We bought pallets of the most standard mason jars that you can get. You know, the ones with the rubber sealed aluminum tops and the twistable aluminum seals. We used them for our wedding for the same reason our friend did: because they’re a quaint container for liquids that’s also perfectly functional and also fairly inexpensive. But at the end of the wedding, we ended up with several cases of mason jars, not to mention the jars that the guests ended up leaving at the event. We’re not exactly the type of people to start a massive canning business, and we also had a sudden lack of liquid containers by virtue of our roommate leaving and taking all of her stuff with her. So we started using the mason jars as cups, mostly as a temporary solution.
Through this experiment, we learned how truly useful and versatile these simple containers are. They’re not just for hipsters. They’re for anyone who has a need to keep something inside something else. Therefore, everyone.
Mason Jars Are Great Drink Cups
I’ve experienced many drink containers over the ages. Tall ones, short ones, ones with designs, ones with sealable tops. But mason jars encompass the best of all worlds. First of all, they’re glass, not plastic and not metal. That means there’s no harmful chemicals, metals, aftertastes or anything other than your delicious drink entering your mouth. They’re safe, they’re sturdy as heck, and hey! They even have some handy measuring lines on the cup itself.
Trying to make sure you drink enough water every day? Stop guessing about the size of your cups, just use the measuring lines on the cup you’re actually drinking from. Trying to figure out what the heck “about 3 servings” means in your bottled sweet tea? Use a mason jar to drink it. Heck, it might even be better to drink it out of a mason jar then out of the bottle it came from.
I Have Cats, Spill Proof is Important
Every Mason jar comes with a two-part top that’s reminiscent of their early days as a canning companion. When canning jams and marmalades, you want to make sure that the components inside are sealed inside and not exposed to contaminants in the air. Mason jars got their reputation because they work really well at exactly that. However, for us average folk that also means that when you seal up your jar, you or anyone else can do almost anything to it short of throwing it off a 3-story building to watch it explode, and it won’t spill the contained liquid.
That orangeish-red part on the edge of the inner seal is a thin layer of rubber that prevents the inner seal from sliding around. The top seal goes on top, pushes the inner seal down, and twists into the jar’s threads to create an airtight seal. The result is that my water is currently not spilling, dripping, or doing anything but staying obediently in the container I intend it to.
I know there are a ton of super pricing containers that you can get at various stores, including some plastic Mason jar rip offs, that do the same thing. But you can also just buy mason jars and save money. And I guarantee you that these will work 100% of the time.
Here’s the other thing. I have cats, as I mentioned in the header. Anyone who’s ever had a cat will know that cats are jerks. They love to just knock things over because they can. My cats in particular will also find any open containers of any liquid and drink them. That means when I grab a glass of water or milk or beer or soda to go with my dinner and set it on the table, a cat will inevitably jump up to it, sniff it, and start lapping it up before I even notice anything happened. I used to have to defend my jars from my cats, possibly spilling my food in the process, which is still a win for the damn cats. Not anymore! Now I literally taunt them with the uncrackable awesomeness that is my mason jars. Look at that. Roma’s like “how the heck does this work?” That’s right. Opposable thumbs for the win, my dear companion.
Store Your Food
I use mason jars on a daily basis for storing food. Why? For the same reasons. No harmful chemicals, no after taste, keeps food fairly well preserved for longer due to air-tight seal. Also a bonus, I store chopped onions in a mason jar in my fridge, but because of the seal, it doesn’t stink up my fridge. By the way, those onions have been in the fridge for probably about a week. And they still look great! I’m impressed.
However, my wife and I have also been trying to get away from the standard carbs + carbs with carbs spread on top and a cup of carbs to wash it down mentality of American breakfasts. So, we’ve started making yogurt parfaits, chia seed puddings, and also steel cut oatmeal. But nobody likes assembling all the ingredients and measuring it out and doing all the things every friggin day. We’re busy, tired, and lazy, like most of America.
So my wife made a brilliant system. She puts all the dry ingredients into mason jars, and then on Sunday nights, she’ll pour everything into a Crock Pot along with a generous pour of almond milk, and then lets the Crock Pot do its thing over night. With a single mason jar of dry ingredients, we get about 3-4 days of delicious steel cut oatmeal (although we store the finished product in a big glass casserole dish).
We probably wouldn’t have thought about this easy way to set up future oatmeal endeavors if the mason jars weren’t already in our cabinets. By having them around, it’s always easy just to grab a couple and throw something into it and not worry about ants getting in or cats or smells or anything like that.
This attitude naturally extends into every part of your life. Since we picked up mason jars, we’ve been finding interesting and crafty ways to use them. For instance, last year we made themed Mason jar gifts stuffed with all sorts of stuff along a simple theme. We made soup in a jar, with all the dry ingredients included with a packet of seasoning and a bouillon cube.
We also made sewing-kit-in-a-jar’s for a few fellow crafty friends by stuffing some sewing supplies into a jar, hot gluing a piece of Styrofoam and a scrap of cloth to the inner seal, and sticking a bunch of sewing needles into the top. It was brilliant and went over really well!
And what I’m trying to say here is that we wouldn’t have even thought of doing this if we didn’t have an excess of mason jars in our place. But I’m glad we did. For that matter, we’ll probably continue to buy cases of them. They’re so massively useful.
How many cups or glasses do you have that you can buy attachments for? None? Yeah, that sounds about right. Because mason jars are totally customizable. Not only can you buy them in almost literally any size, but you can also buy various different tops, attachments, and inserts. The first of said customizations that I bought for my mason jars are shown to the right.
Yes, that that’s a sippy cup attachment. With a cute little straw that goes with it. I’m currently sipping some store bought Tazo tea in a bar jar with a straw and sippy cup lid. I mean, if that doesn’t sound amazing to you, I don’t know what to say. Even though the top and straw are plastic, everything in Ball’s inventory is always BPA-free and as safe as any plastic can be. As I looked up Amazon links for you, I even noticed that there are different colors of these lids, for ultimate cuteness of course.
But there’s a lot more than just that. The crafty community has gone nuts with creating accessories for mason jars, and especially for the wide-mouth style Ball brand jars. I mean, just look at this Stainless Steel Tea Strainer or this attachment that turns a mason jar into a coin bank, or these shaker lids that help you store and dispense herbs.
All I’m saying is that these are the most versatile and diverse containers I’ve run into. Just take a look at this search and you’ll see why you can easily replace most dry or liquid storage containers in your place with a mason jar. And considering you can get a dozen of the standard 16 OZ ones for a little over a buck each, I’d say they’re pretty darn cheap too. Don’t take my word for it, go ahead and try it. I posted these links earlier, but here they are again. I typically go for the 16 OZ wide-mouth jars, which are currently going for about $17 on Amazon. But, if you prefer, you can also pick up the big ol’ quart sized ones and they will come with the sippy cup attachments for about $2 a jar.