Jar Serendipity

May 26, 2009(updated on October 3, 2018)

my favorite leftover storage jar

For years now, this has been my very favorite jar for storing leftovers. The wide mouth makes it easy to get ladle food in and out and the size means that it typically can handle what remains of the chili or soup in its entirety, without need for splitting across multiple containers. I found it a vast warehouse of a thrift store that stood on North Broad Street, just south of Girard (for those of who live elsewhere, this is not the greatest of neighborhoods, but oh! the deals!), for at least 40 years.

My mom shopped there while she was in college in the late sixties, picking up wardrobe staples for $.25 a piece. Sadly, sometime in the last couple of years this bargain mecca vanished, replaced by yet another vast, characterless Family Dollar. I think the neighborhood was better served by the thrift store, but things inevitably change.

jar find

This is the jar I bought over the weekend, at our very first stop upon entering Lancaster County. It was tucked in the corner of a junk barn that was part of a summer-long yard sale. With the exception of the label, it is twin to my favorite jar, and was just $5 (not bad when you consider the price of plastic food storage containers that get so easily stained and imbued with the scent of chili).

I was also delighted to learn from the label what the jar had originally held.So often, I buy things with unknown origins and create applications for them that aren’t necessarily exactly what they were initially intended for. It’s always a treat to know a little bit more about them (I had a similar discovery experience about ten years ago, when I discovered that the drinking glasses rimmed with embossed stars that I had grown up with were actually the packaging for Hormel-brand dried beef) and be able to imagine a time when that preferred jar was readily available at the local grocery store (although, it might have been a special order type of thing. There’s not a ton of call for three pound jars of peanut butter in ordinary life).

Kitchen King Peanut Butter

However, now I find myself in something of a quandary. In order to make this jar as useful to me as possible, I’m going to need to remove that oh-so-carefully preserved label. I have a personal rule that I don’t collect anything that doesn’t have a purposeful application in real life (every one of my jars is clean and ready to use) and so to justify having this jar, it needs to be cleaned. However, I’m feeling a bit resistant towards stripping the label off, knowing that I’m going to probably end up ruining it in the process. Any preservations experts out there have tips on how to get the label off without destroying it?

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7 thoughts on "Jar Serendipity"

  • That new jar rocks! I love the label!! By the way, my parents totally hooked me up with all of their old jars from the pickling and preserve days. I think I inherited about 50 jars from them this weekend!! So excited to use them!

  • my first instinct for trying to remove the label is steam. and maybe a uber-flexible spatula to carefully lift from underneath. the downside is that if it doesn’t work, the label is done for. and i’m not an expert, so please take this with a grain of salt!

  • I’m most successful in removing jar labels when I can soak the jar in water totally submerged for quite a while. When the glue is finally dissolved, the entire label sort of floats off the jar. It can then be dried and saved if I want it.

  • What a great jar and label! I’m afraid I’d be tempted to just use it to flowers or something in order to keep the label!

  • We used the Flinstones jelly jars for drinking glasses when I was a little girl. I loved them. We fought over who got which one.