A Guide to Differences, Pros and Cons of Glass Jars and Their Recommended Usage
Finding zero-waste, ecological and non-toxic solutions to store your food isn’t easy.
Online websites are flooded with plastic and cheap food containers, which claim to be non-toxic, BPA free and safe for our children. True, some types of plastics have been proven to be safe when in contact with food and liquids. However, under certain circumstance, such as heating or preserving, choosing glass containers to store food is a much safer option.
Have you ever taken your plastic lunch box out of the microwave to find out its shape has been warped by the heat? Have you ever experienced the uncomfortable soapy taste after you have cleaned your lunch box in the dishwasher?
When thinking about safe food storage solutions, glass is one the first materials that come to mind. Glass is considered overall a safe option for storing and heating up food, because it won’t leach any dangerous chemicals. Read on to discover how to store your food using a more eco-friendly material: glass.
What are the pros and cons of glass when used for food storage?
- Pros: it does not not leach harmful chemicals into your food, it is dishwasher-safe and most of it it’s microwave safe.
- Cons: it is heavy and often bulky, and can break if dropped. Not all glass is microwave and heating safe.
How to then choose which glass container is better, and what are the main types of glass containers?
Mason jars are one of the most versatile and safe food storage options. What is amazing about mason jars is that you really get the joint benefit of a safe material such as glass, and the ease of a transparent food display. Additionally, these jars have an amazing vintage-looking appeal, which will give your kitchen cabinets a stylish look.
Mason Jars are perfect for storing small rice and pasta leftovers, seeds, sugar, quinoa, beans, nuts: basically just about any small size dry food. They are also great for storing cold drinks, preserves, and jams, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.
Mason jars also come with a good variety of lids: simple screw on metal lids, double rings lids, and lids with a central straw hole. I generally prefer single closure lids for storing dry food, and prefer to use double rings lids for smoothies and cold drinks as I can easily pop a spoon through the double opening. Lids with a small central hole are specifically made to fit in a straw.
Mason Jars are widely available on Amazon. Personally, I purchased most of my mason jars from following brands who specialize in glass jars: the American Ball, the British Kilner, and the Italian Bormioli Rocco.
These are all highly reputable brands and their products have a really good quality. Plus, they have a very distinctive design deeply connected within the brand’s country of origin.
My all-time favourite must-have glass jars from these 3 brands are the following:
- Bormioli Rocco Quattro Stagioni 23.5 Ounce Glass Jar
- Ball Regular Mouth Pint Jar
- Kilner Vintage Preserve Jar
There is a very vast selection of mason jars for every pocket on Amazon. In my opinion, it is best to spend a couple of dollars more on a higher quality product which will last you longer.
A very important consideration to make is that not all glass jars are microwave or freezer safe, so you must check before buying. Most Mason Jars will state on the packaging or on the actual body if the jar if it is heat safe. Always check with the supplier if in doubt. For example, most handled mason jars are usually made of a lighter glass, and cannot be used to serve hot tea, nor can be microwaved.
You must also remember to always remove the metal lid if planning to microwave the jar as they are not all suitable to microwave and some can release dangerous particles during the heating process (Source: Can You Microwave Mason Jars? – Quick Informational Guide).
If you are into food display, mason jars are particularly cool to use to make salads or cold pasta salads because they allow you to layer different ingredients by keeping them separate from each other. Once you are ready to have your meal, you can simply throw the ingredients in a ceramic bowl. This technique allows the ingredients to remain fresh overnight, and your salad leaves will remain crisps without getting soggy from the contact with other ingredients more humid ingredients.
Here are some examples of salads I have made using Mason Jars:
- Radish & Poppy Spinach Salad with Mustard Seasoning
- Crispy Lettuce with Italian Dressing, Eggs and Rice Cakes Side
- Rocket Salad with Walnut, Honey and Pepper
Mason jars also come with one side handle, and these types are perfect to be kept on your desk at work and just refilled with fresh fruit water, instead avoiding plastic or paper cups. I also use them to make amazing and delicious cocktails or fresh smoothies. As explained above, most of these mason jars cannot be used to serve hot drinks, as they are usually made of a thin glass better to keep drinks fresh, and to be lighter.
Here are some examples of refreshing drinks I have prepared using Mason Jars:
- Fresh Lemonade with Coriander leaves topping
- Sparkling Fresh Ginger with Lemon Zest and Cucumber
- Coconut Milk & Dark Chocolate Cold Shake
Pros and Cons of Mason Jars
- Pros: Most of them are dishwasher and microwave safe (without any metal fittings). They are fairly light compared to other glass containers
- Cons: they can break if dropped. Not all Mason Jars are microwave and heat safe
You can use hermetic jars to store “humid” food, such as mushrooms and coffee or more “crunchy” food, such as crackers or rice cakes, that requires an hermetic seal to keep it crisp and fresh.
You can use hermetic jars even simply to display and serve food when you are having friends over, they will be really impressed by the presentation, trust me! I personally recommend the Made in Italy evergreen Bormioli Rocco Hermetic Jar or the Kilner Square 68-Fl Oz Clip Top Jar.
On the other hand, I would not recommend storing any fresh vegetables as veggies will last longer when exposed to some air. Instead, I wrap any vegetables in a cloth to keep them fresh for longer.
Finally, remember that due to their metal fittings, you cannot put hermetic jars in the microwave.
Here are some examples of breakfast and lunches I have stored using hermetic jars:
- Overnight Berries and Nuts Oats
- Greek Yogurt with Coconut, Honey and Blueberries
- Tiramisu Coffee Bites
- Butternut Squash Soup with Chives and Sichuan Pepper
- Lentil, Basmati Rice and Tabasco Salad Mix
- Mushroom & Cream Hearty Porridge
Pros and Cons of Hermetic Jars
- Pros: they keep any food fresh longer thanks to their air tight sealed lid
- Cons: they are not microwave safe
If you need to store anything bulky or crunchy that requires an airtight lid, and which will prevent the food to loose its fragrance: cookie jars are the answer.
I usually tend to prefer to store cookies and biscuits in metal boxes as I believe they preserve freshness better, while I personally use Cookie Jars mostly for bulky dried fruit such as dried prunes, and to store crunchy items such as tea leaves. If you are looking for a good brand, Anchor Hocking makes very good quality Cookie Jars Made in USA.
Pros and Cons of Cookie Jars
- Pros: they can hold bulky and larger items
- Cons: for the above reason, they are much bulkier and take up a lot of space in the kitchen