Did you know that you probably throw away a valuable resource every day? Did you know that you are also potentially spending money to replace that thing you just threw away? Well, if you ever just toss glass jars in the trash, then you are wasting one of the best supplies of ready food storage containers, sorting tools, and planters.
The Wealth – Properties of Glass
Unlike plastics, glass has stood the test of time. When compared to tin, aluminum, plastic, and other containers (especially for food storage), it has some unique qualities that make it ideal for a prepper’s purposes.
- Holds its temperature better than other containers, making it less susceptible to heat and cold
- Does not absorb flavors and odors like plastic does
- Does not contain potentially toxic compounds that can leech into what you are storing
- Easier to sanitize and does not promote the growth of bacteria
- It cannot be chewed through by rodents or other pests
Sanitizing Glass for Food Storage
Once you start looking for it, you will find glass everywhere. Spaghetti sauce jars, empty jars of store-bought jelly and jam, and many other miscellaneous food and other items you purchase on a regular basis.
The first step to using these containers is to sterilize them. There are three ways to sterilize glass containers. Use any one of these and you will be set and ready to go.
After rinsing the containers thoroughly, wash them in your dishwasher if you have one.
- Wash the containers in hot soapy water, then boil for 10 minutes.
- Wash the containers in hot, soapy water, then place on a cookie sheet and in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Make sure you use them immediately after sterilizing them so they do not have time to collect additional dust, dirt, or bacteria. Also, ensure they are completely dry before using them for food storage. For this purpose, the oven method of sterilization may be the most effective since the dry heat will evaporate any moisture off the containers before use.
Glass containers are great options for not only storing home canned fruits and vegetables, but also for dry goods such as beans, grains, and flour. Another advantage of the glass containers you will collect from other items is that they are not usually very large. This is actually a good thing, because if one container gets moisture, bugs, or anything else in it that starts to make the food go bad it will be isolated to that one container rather than your whole food storage. Properly sterilizing containers and storing items in glass will also minimize these kinds of problems in the first place. I have never had anything go bad in a glass container yet.
Always make sure to date and label your food so that you know what it is. Especially when storing things like salt, sugar, flour, and cornstarch (which look very similar) the labels will come in very handy. This is also critical so that you can rotate your food storage.
Glass storage is a great option for repackaging bulk beans, wheat berries, seeds, flour and grains, in order to keep them fresh and safe longer.
Since glass is transparent, make sure to keep your food stores in a cupboard and not on a shelf with access to light, as the sunlight will cause the food’s nutritional value to degrade more quickly.
Another possible use for your glass containers is sprouting. You will have to experiment with various methods of creating lids (cloth and rubber bands, pin size holes in the lids, etc.), or purchase lids especially for sprouting, but glass is a great medium for growing your sprouts. Not only for all the properties listed above, but also because you can see inside and be able to enjoy the full wonder of watching something grow on your countertop.
Other Uses of Glass
If you find you have more jars than food to store, there are any number of additional uses of glass. Sort your screws, nuts, and bolts in containers that are easy to see what is inside. Keep your seeds for planting in glass containers. Decorate with tissue paper and glue (or just a nice ribbon) and use as a pen and pencil holder on your desk. Use for art supplies, craft items, or buttons in your sewing room. Get creative and you will be able to find other ways to use this oft overlooked treasure.
The one downside of glass is that it does break. Make sure to take precautions to keep your glass from breaking and damaging the items you are storing, as well as potentially harming you or your loved ones.
- Keep all glass out of the reach of small children
- When placing it up high, ensure that the glass is on a stable shelf or space that will not tip or fall
- Never allow your glass to experience extreme temperature changes (such as when taking it directly from the freezer and putting it into a preheated oven). Instead allow it to adjust to new temperatures gradually, such as putting it in a cold oven rather than preheated one, and allowing it to come to room temperature before putting it in the oven at all.
- If your glass ever cracks or chips, recycle it rather than continuing to use it
- Do not roll glass along a hard surface, especially one that is bumpy like concrete, as this will slowly wear down the integrity of the glass causing it to eventually break.
When treated with care, glass can be a great solution for many of your storage needs, and is easily collected and saved from items you are already using, rather than being an added expense.