The Many, Many Uses of the Simple Mason Jar

If there was an award for most the most amazingly versatile 152-year-old household item, it would surely go to the Mason jar. These simple clear jars have scores of uses in addition to canning food. After the jump, a collection of the myriad uses of the Mason jar.

There's a reason the Mason jar has gone relatively unchanged since it was invented and patented by John Landis Mason in 1858. How do you improve on perfection?

  • Canning jars make a great vase for fresh flowers. This is especially true if you're taking flowers as a hostess gift. You can plop the flowers into the jar to hand off to your hostess. She won't have to scurry around looking for a vase at the last minute and you won't have to spend the extra cash on a fancy vase.
  • Of course we think of using the jars for canning food but they're also handy for storing dry food. Keeping legumes, rice, and other dry goods in a Mason jar makes them easy to see and also protects them from any pests you may have in your home.
  • Leftover paint can dry up if left in the can. Pouring that paint into a jar is an easy way to make sure you'll have the paint when you need it for patching.
  • You can pack leftovers into a Mason jar to take along in a brown bag lunch. I like to pack soup in a jar rather than Tupperware because it's easier to microwave the jar (and no worries about BPA's, either).
  • Because Mason jars are made to withstand high heat as part of the canning process, they make amazing impromptu candle holders. Fill the bottom of the jar with sand or rocks and stick a taper candle in it. Or, with a smaller jar, drop in a tea light for an instant lantern.
  • I keep a change jar near my dresser to drop my coins in at the end of the day. (Extra fun tip: my husband and I save all our change for one year and then we cash it in and split it as each other's Christmas gift budget!)
  • It's always handy to have a sewing kit around. You never know when you're going to pop a button on your favorite shirt. Try making a sewing kit with an empty Mason jar using this guide from Martha Stewart. Make one for yourself or make a few as gifts.
  • In addition to being able to withstand high heat, Mason jars are also great for the freezer. Fill with leftover soup, screw on the top, label it, and throw in the freezer. Be sure to leave a little room at the top for the food to expand when it freezes.
  • Fill a jar with seashells, sand, vacation collections, colorful rocks or anything else you'd like on display. For an extra handy bonus, use these jars filled with your colorful collections as bookends or doorstops.
  • There are loads of recipes around the internet for baking cakes in a jar to give as gifts. If you're not the baking type, pour the dry ingredients from a boxed cake or brownie mix into a jar, create a label with mixing and baking instructions, tie a ribbon around it, and present it as if you made it yourself!
  • In a pinch Mason jars can be used as drinking glasses. The small jars associated with jelly are perfect as juice glasses and the larger ones are super vessels for iced tea.

I'm sure there are more uses for Mason jars that I haven't even thought of. Add your clever ways of reusing jars in the comments below!

Image: The Pioneer Woman

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