The DIY Life: Mason Jar Storage and Organization

29 Aug

If you’ve been reading this blog since it started or just browsed it for the last 5 minutes, or know me personally,  it’s pretty easy to see that I have an obsession with all things mason jars. I just can’t help myself! BUT it’s not like I need an intervention or will show up on an episode of hoarders any time in the near future. I hope not anyway. There is no other item that you can have in your home that has SO MANY USES! I use mine for the obvious reason they were created – for food preservation. But I use them for a multitude of other things. The older jars I use for things like foaming hand soap dispensers or homemade sugar scrub storage. The antique blue ones are used for storing sugar, splenda and ground coffee beside the coffee maker. I also use them on my shelving rack to store pasta, beans, and corn for popping. A big jar holds baking mix. Inside my cabinets, they hold all of my baking items: sugars, flours, grains, chocolate chips, nuts, baking soda, homemade vanilla extract, rice and other grains, homemade taco seasoning, dehydrated herbs. They are our drinking glasses for everything from beer to wine. Small portions of leftovers get nestled into them so they can easily be reheated for lunches the next day. Our freezer contains (freezer safe)  jars full of yumminess like pesto , squash spread, and creamy limoncello/tangicello. I have a light fixture by the sink that has old mason jars with stars on them as the glass over the bulbs.

I did this consolidation a couple of years ago because I was tired of all the boxes, bags and various containers holding all of our foodstuffs – raw material and ready to eat. I was so over going to grab the box of rice or pasta for a meal only to find there wasn’t enough. With the limited cupboard space we currently have, it was well overdue to start getting down to organizing everything. And not just the boxes. Because let’s face it – those box/bottle/bag laden shelves only stayed nice and organized for roughly 1 week after all that work. Being in a hurry to get dinner on the table meant things just got shoved back in where they fit. The canning jars saved the day! I’m not stuck on using only canning jars. The clear glass jars from Target are large enough to hold a 5lb bag of flour or sugar. Bigger barrel jars from the discount stores hold bulk egg noodles. A large apothecary jar holds homemade oatmeal.

The beauty of this type of organization is that it’s very easy to see how much of an item you have. There’s no guesswork if you have enough rice on hand for dinner that night. You’ll know if you need more flour for weekend bread baking just by looking into the cabinet. Because the jars are uniformly sized, there will always be a niche in your cabinet to put the jar you were using back where you found it, making it easier to keep your pantry organized.

I have a label on top of each lid that tells me what the jar contains. I will cut the directions off of the bag or box for items I’m not confident I’ll remember how to make and stick them inside the jar. Jars that contain items I don’t use weekly will have an additional label with the expiration date or I’ll cut that off the box/bag and tape it to the interior lid.

Always remember to use the items up before refilling – oldest out first. What I sometimes do is transfer the older contents to a smaller jar and put it on top of the bigger jar so I know to use up the small jar first and can get rid of those bags and boxes before they have chance to clutter up anything. This system has worked out so wonderfully for me. Christmas baking has become so much more efficient with everything so easily seen. People ask me how I don’t freak out about the jars sitting out because they are so easily seen and can get dusty. It’s simple – when I go to use the contents of that jar, I wipe it down with a wet dishcloth. The jars that sit out are the ones that I use pretty regularly so the odds of them getting visibly dusty are slim. They become part of the kitchen decor, but they serve a purpose.

How do you use mason jars in your home?

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8 Responses to “The DIY Life: Mason Jar Storage and Organization”

  1. Yinzerella August 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    I’ve started reusing pasta sauce bottles and the like, in the same way. Little by little!

    • seasonedwithsarcasm August 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

      It’s an awesome storage method. I have so many jars for canning that people have given me and I purchased over the years that I decided to use them as storage for everything. Better to use them then toss them!

  2. summersendfarm August 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    I am also a mason jar junky! I use them for everything. Never thought of putting them in the freezer though. Great idea.

    • seasonedwithsarcasm August 29, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

      Hello fellow mason jar addict! lol Yes, they are great in the freezer for single use portions of pesto, spreads, and booze infusions, even soups! Just pull one out in the morning and let it thaw for lunch!

  3. Heidi @ lightlycrunchy August 29, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    What’s not to love about mason jars? I have a small problem with collecting them myself. At certain times of the year they are all in use, other times, as they are emptied, they are falling out of our cabinets.

    • seasonedwithsarcasm August 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

      haha! I TRY to keep all of my not in use jars contained to one area of the house. People always think of me when they are decreasing their own stockpile, and it’s hard to say no to free jars. So I’ve got some cases in the shed and more in the basement. eek. I don’t mind though because I have been gifting a lot of food items, so I don’t feel like I need to be aggressive with getting the jars back because I have more that were FREE!

  4. zankin August 31, 2012 at 3:08 am #

    Really like this idea, right now I use huge punch containers for stuff like flour and sugar, mason jars would keep it longer though. The mason jars I have are filled with old screws, rubber bands, and nails. I need to fix that.

    • seasonedwithsarcasm August 31, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

      Hey, mason jars are great for everything! Even those old screws, rubber bands and nails! We’ve got some jars in the garage and basement with similar stuff, except those are old pasta sauce or plain jars. For me, it was hard to locate gallon sized jars to store sugar and flour so I used these: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Anchor-Hocking-Cracker-Jar-with-Lid/16520333 In the gallon size, they are perfect for storing this stuff and keeping it from going stale. Good luck on your organization!

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