Sanity Saving Ideas for Canning Jars
Got a bunch of these things in the basement and don’t know what to do with them? Or, maybe you’re looking for an easily replaced, can find it anywhere glassware item that’s inexpensive with built in character. With both the modern and retro styles of these things on the market today, canning jars are the way to go. What’s that? You prefer the antique variety? Well, pack a lunch and start hitting the tag sales, because with these money saving ideas you’ll be organized and living large in no time. Bonus? You’ll have more money for wine!
1. Dry goods canisters.
I guess after singing their praises in the areas of bulk buying and cheap gourmet kitchen design, how I feel about clear containers isn’t much of a secret. They are easy to see through which promotes organization, and if you go with canning jars, you can get them by the case for a song. Yes, you can get them for free by saving your pickle jars. But if you want to get a new system up and running in a hurry, these are a nice workable choice for not a lot of money. Some ideas for things to store in them? Dried chiles, spice rub mixes, lentils, sugar, tea, dried fruit and beans.
2. Drinking jars.
I’ve seen more than a few restaurants over the years use these as a way to serve giant cocktails. And you have to admit, large looks luxurious, even if you are giving it a more rustic twist. Since we have a lot of antique reproduction advertising art in our kitchen (the one that’s packed up at any rate) in the form of framed prints, old tins and metal signs, we decided to give these a whirl a few years ago. The result? We’ve never looked back. You can get them in smaller sizes for juice, medium for your standard water and iced tea drinks, and quart sized for hard lemonades and frozen party drinks. Depending on the style you choose, many of them are available with an old-timey raised design on the front. For the kitchen, and casual every day use, these fit in with our particular look. In fact, at more than one party, we’ve had people say it reminded them of having dinner at Route 66. Since it was exactly what we were going for, we were thrilled with the compliment. This may not work for everyone’s design tastes, but clearly it is do-able for more than just the rustic country look. If you like the old advertising prints from Europe, or even a more industrial look, you could pull this off. Replaceable at your local discount department store.
3. Jar gifts.
Links for ideas to use canning jars in this way are too numerous on the web to document. Julie posted a neat one recently for potato soup mix, and I’ve used this one for beer bread in a jar that many hostesses have seemed pleased to receive. If the baking mix recipes don’t work for you, consider filling one with homemade roasted nuts or chocolate covered pretzels.
4. Homemade candles.
This is a particularly fun idea if you have some antique ones sitting around that you’ve inherited from good old Grandma. Here’s a link to a basic wax candle recipe. If anyone has a recipe or instructions for soy candles, please feel free to post.
5. Storing personal care products.
Again, this goes back to the clear container preference I’ve mentioned before. As hectic as things are for most of us in the mornings, using this strategy in the bathroom is particularly powerful in my opinion. Storing cosmetic puffs, hair ties or cotton swabs where they are easy to see can make life a whole lot easier. And they are particularly great for homemade spa products if you are putting together a rustic gift basket with other home canned items. It’s a way to have a pulled together look even if the items themselves don’t have a particular theme.
It may be stating the obvious, but there really are some simple ideas out there for easier recipes that don’t require a pressure cooker. Jellies, homemade fudge sauce, and tomato based sauces come to mind. They can all be accomplished with the water bath technique.
7. Make a lamp.
These are kind of fun, and easily customized to suit your style and interest. While the electrical hookup remains the same for each, you can add different things inside the jar to fit in with your home. Sea shells, antique buttons, marbles, river rocks, etc. Here’s a link to some instructions.
8. Organization for small sized items.
Crafting supplies, sewing notions, or nuts and bolts can all get some help from the canning jar system. Whether you just store the items inside, or take the extra step of attaching them to the underside of a shelf, using the container principle as a small space survival strategy is always a good idea.
Send a guest home with a quart of spaghetti sauce or use it to transport soup to an elderly shut-in. They seal up well, and people can always use them for any of the other ideas on this list.
10. Solar powered glow lamp.
I just saw something similar to this while researching green gift giving ideas. It sold for around 40 bucks. Here’s a link to a set of instructions.
11. Shaker for liquid mixtures.
Whether you are mixing corn starch and water for a gravy thickener, or letting the kids shake some cream to make butter for a fun at-home science experiment, having a couple of different sizes with lids can make sure you always have a container on the ready.
12. Desk organizers.
Again, various sizes can be used for numerous items, markers, pens, paper clips and pencils all need a home on your desk, preferably one that is easy to reach.
Like the look of the homemade brown paper bag ones, but afraid a good wind will put you in fire protection mode? Try creating them in glass jars for a safer version, and you’ll have them for other uses after the party. Here’s a set of instructions.
14. Kitchen counter sanity.
Utensils, wooden spoons, or an upside down fork with a recipe card tucked between the tines. Take your pick.
15. Pourable storage container.
This requires a bit of forethought, but if you save the top of your Morton salt container (the kind with the pop up metal spout) and cut it to fit the inside of the screw on canning jar lid, you’ve got a canister you can pour things out of, like a cinnamon and sugar mixture for your morning scone or coffee.
16. Bulk buying solution for gift basket items.
Many things make a fun tuck-in to gift baskets of various themes. Popcorn for a movie theme basket, M&M’s or Hershey’s Kisses for a chocolate lovers’ extravaganza, crushed peppermint candies for cocktail rimming, flavored coffee beans and many other things could work here.
17. Flower vase.
The antique ones with the metal handles are super great for this. Really fun for dining al fresco, or if you enjoy the shabby chic look.
18. Make your own soap dispenser!
I’m DYING to try this idea. Whether you are going rustic or industrial in your kitchen or bath, this idea has major potential in my book. It would even be fun for bulk purchases of bubble bath. Here’s a link to some instructions on how to do it.
These are my top picks for using canning jars around the house. They are one of my favorite multipurpose items. If you have another great project idea using mason jars, please feel free to post a link and let us know about it. Happy saving!