I love jars. Now, when I say that to most people, they cock their heads and look at me as if I’ve got a couple of loose marbles upstairs, as jars aren’t something most people spend a whole lot of time thinking about. However, it’s an entirely true statement. I use canning jars to store leftovers and carry my lunchtime soup to work. I stash grains, teas, candies and condiments in them. I often turn to a wide mouth 16 ouncer when my water bottle is stinky and in the summer I carry that same size in case an iced coffee craving hits me (I hate using disposable containers, I can’t help but imagine them lasting forever in the landfill). There’s also something so satisfying and solid about drinking out of a jar as opposed to a flimsy paper cup.
My favorite jar in the world is the discontinued wide mouth 20 ounce glass freezer jar. I haven’t been able to track down when Ball stopped producing these babies, but they are a rare and precious commodity. About six months ago, I bought a dozen of them on eBay so as to bolster my stash. I gave several to my mother for Christmas. She was delighted to have them, as she was the one who originally turned me on to that particular size and understands just how hard they are to find.
I trace my minor jar obsession straight back to my mom. When I was in college, she slowly began ridding the house of the Rubbermaid and Tupperware containers that we’d used for food storage since I was born. She hated that they always became stained and liked to retain particularly stinky scents. Each time I came home for long weekends or holiday breaks, there were more food-filled jars in the fridge and fewer plastic containers. These days, save for a few ancient plastic containers that she’s had since the seventies, my parents’ house is a jar-only zone.
These days, my jar collection outstriped my ability to house it. I spend the summer making jams and pickles, and so throughout the winter, tuck the empties into closets and under beds until their time in a water bath comes again. Living in Center City Philadelphia makes finding jars a bit difficult, but I live just a short hour from Lancaster County, which is the self-proclaimed home canning capital of the world (those Amish sure to make a good homemade ketchup). And there’s always eBay.