Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Importance of Good Mason Jars & Dehydration

Wasn't Laura's interview so good yesterday?! I loved it! Today I want to tell you about why mason jars are not just a craze but also a good investment. This also has to do with my Tuesday's post on dehydration. A few nights ago my husband and I did a late night run to my less than favorite place— Walmart. He needed a last minute item (by last minute, I mean he had 7 hours before he needed to be at work the next morning with this particular item). So we ventured to Walmart at that ungodly hour. We found what he needed and then I grabbed his arm and asked him if we could please go down the aisle with the mason jars just to look at them! I’m not a girl who asks to go walking around a jewelry shop just day dreaming of what I would love to have, and I’m not even the girl anymore so much who pours over baking aisles… but mason jars, I will go find the aisle at midnight at Walmart just to stand there looking at them. I love them. 

At first mason jars were a fad that came around the same time pinterest came along. I feel like the newness of pinterest was directly correlated with the excitement and my new found love for mason jars! Suddenly you have girls going to antique stores looking for jars. And not just any jars, but jars to display pasta, beans, and coffee grinds, jars in a chic way, to make hanging pendant lights out of, jars for filling with cranberries and floating candles for Christmas, jars for succulents you bought off of etsy, jars as vases filled with peonies, jars for indoor plants, jars for snow globes at Christmastime, jars to make cute soap dispensers for your guest bathroom, jars to gift cookie mixes or even pre-made blueberry pies, jars to make chandeliers out of, jars to spray paint gold, jars to glue, JARS. Just as chips are a vehicle for the queso dip, pinterest was the vehicle for mason jars- an item probably used in Little House on the Prairie time period when they traded salt for meat! 

Anyway, as much as I understand the whole fad and the consequent cynical being “over” the whole idea, I’m not over mason jars. In fact, I feel like I’m just starting to fall in love with them. If I had to pick some of my top five favorite things in my kitchen to have, mason jars would definitely be included in that list. The little ones are great for leftover sauces and dips, loose spices you bought from the bulk section of whole foods or from Herb Boot Camps that get lost in your spice drawer if they’re in those weird bags, fresh peanut butter, the remains of salad dressing from dinner, and yes cute individual desserts. The larger ones— what are they not good for? Of course they bring a warmth to your dinner table as dinner glasses. They’re good for silverware dispensers when you’re having people over. They’re amazing though for leftovers of dinner as well! I don’t love putting hot food in plastic. I don’t love the chemicals plastic emits when a hot substance comes in contact with it. I'm not paranoid about it, but I definitely prefer glass for hot substances (and most substances really) over plastic. As much as I don’t want to be crazy, I really do not like putting leftovers from dinner in the plastic Tupperware unless they are completely cooled. Mason Jars make for a great and easy substitute. I also like that they look a lot better than the messy plastic Tupperware drawer or cabinet or whatever I try to organize them into. I’ve also found that in the summer when beautiful berries and fruits are plentiful, washing my fruit and then putting them into mason jars preserves them far longer than any other method I’ve tried-- and especially longer than leaving them in those plastic little crates they come in. ( Update: This is such a revolutionary thing that helps me save money that I later wrote a post solely on that you can find here. ) I also love freezing homemade broth and homemade soups in mason jars. I don’t love freezing in plastic bags because defrosting is so messy. With the jars, I defrost by running them under warm water or sitting them in a bowl filled with warm water. I wouldn’t be doing that with plastic, because of the chemicals of course. In that same line of thinking, kind of, mason jars also help me melt coconut oil for various recipes. I don't love melting it in the microwaves since it destroys some of it's insane nutrients, so I just put some coconut oil in one of my little jars and warm it in the oven, as demonstrated in this post.

Another reason I love mason jars is because of how they help me stay hydrated. When I started drinking more filtered water on a good consistent basis I saw so many benefits in my health and overall wellness. The only problem in all of that was the inconvenience of it. I had to find a way that made it easier to track how much water I was getting, and for it to be easily accessible throughout the day— whatever my schedule entailed. I tended to loose track of how many cups I was drinking and I even tended to loose track of the cups themselves and I would get confused with how much I really drank. So, I started using mason jars. Every morning I will fill two mason jars (3 cup mason jars that have the markers for the measurements) full of purified water and I stick them in the fridge to get cold. Cold water is so much better tasting to me. I start drinking water as soon as I wake up and then I carry the mason jar throughout the day. If I’m leaving my house I’ll just screw on the top of the jar and stick it in my purse to have with me as I’m on the run. I only have two jars to keep track of and since the jars are already marked with measurements, it makes it so easy!  It is one of the most convenient things I’ve ever done. It is the best way to track how much water I’m drinking and it is the easiest. I also love that the jars are GLASS and I’m not having random plastic water bottles all over-- and I don't even trust drinking out of those plastic water bottles sold at the store anymore. Like I said, I'm not paranoid, but I’m just not as into plastic anything anymore so I don’t love plastic water bottles and my beloved mason jars fix that problem immensely! Also, I find the water tastes so much better in the mason jars. I sometimes wonder if that's in my head, but I really like the water so much better! 

Tip: I have found that the best mason jars for freezing are the wide mouth jars. Now, the only jars I buy are the wide mouth ones. When you go to defrost it is much easier to get everything out. There are usually big chunks of frozen ice that are last to defrost and it’s much easier to be able to dump them out instead of waiting until every last drop has defrosted to be able to get it out of the little mouthed jars. Also if you do end up freezing broths or soups or anything in mason jars, it’s best to make sure that you let it cool to room temp before putting in the freezer, because I have had far too many jars split and break in the freezer sadly. 

Like I said above, you can find my other post on how Mason Jars help me save money buying organically and making food last the longest here
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