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Thursday, September 5, 2013

* More Uses for Mason, Canning, Fruit Jars!

A look inside my refrigerator shows all my beloved Mason jars in use. In the back a 2 quart jar with Sun Tea, 1 quart jar with pasta sauce, pint of strawberry jam, left over mac and cheese, and some beet juice I’m going to use for another project in the craft room. In the front leftover curried rice and raisins ready for my lunch box, home made yogurt, jello in a half pint ready for hubbies lunch box, butternut squash soup, more jello and yogurt, and some fresh whipped cream to top the jello with. 

My husband and I use the leftovers for a quick lunch box ready meal. Sometimes I even take a drink in a jar with me, though my husband is a little shy about drinking from a jar at work.  Once when I had misplaced my travel coffee mug, I used a jar to hold my morning coffee; it fit nicely in my cars drink holder. I had to hold it at the top to keep from burning my fingers as I sipped, and it wasn’t great at keeping the coffee hot but hey, it worked in a pinch. I wonder if those cardboard holders would fit on a jar….hmmmm…….
Sometimes I make spaghetti sauce from those gallon size tomato sauce cans and I freeze it in 1 quart containers.  Nice on those nights when you know you will be home late, you can remove a jar from the freezer in the morning and hubby can put on a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Leftover pasta and sauce can be then added to the next days lunch menu, in a jar of course.

When reheating things like pasta and sauce in a jar, it's best to stir the sauce well into the pasta.  Fats heat the fastest, pasta slow, so mixing it together well will make for a more evenly heated food.  Also this will decrease the possibility of the jar breaking from overheating the fats in the food if you walk away from it or put it on a high cooking time with out stirring once in a while.  This would be true of any glass container.
  Don't do this; sauce on top, pasta on bottom. 
<--- Do this; stir well to evenly distribute sauces.
I always have a quart jar in the freezer to hold chicken broth that I add to now and then.  It seems that I rarely have a large amount of chicken broth and I hate to throw it out knowing I will need some for a recipe in the future. I cool it to room temperature then add it to my jar of frozen broth pouring it through a strainer. (if you try this make sure you cool the broth before adding it to your jar from the freezer. It will break if you add hot liquid to it!) This way I don’t have to make or buy chicken broth when I need it. 

If I had a chest freezer I would probably not be so quick to use glass to store foods in it as the rummaging around for food items could break the jars. If you use a chest freezer and want to use glass storage in it then put all your glass storage items in a container with a lid such as a cardboard or plastic box/bin and pack them with cloth, newspaper or plastic bags stuffed around them to minimize breaking.  The container can be removed and the broken glass easily contained if something does break.  You can slip jars into old tube socks to help minimize breaking too.
So here you have a few more ways I use my Mason jars; more ways to come!

1.       Use all sizes of jars for leftovers.
2.       To go container when you have dinner guest who take food home.
3.       For your brown bag lunch, reheat in office microwave; great for salads too.
4.       To freeze large quantities of food like pasta sauce
5.       To hold freezer items you add to, like chicken broth.

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