Canning Jars: Not just for canning

A chip or ding in the rim of a canning jar means its life of processing food is over. But there are several creative options left before it hits the recycle bin. When preparing for canning, it is a good practice to run your finger around the rim of each jar to make sure they are smooth and will hold a good seal. Jars with even the slightest chip or flaw get marked with an X at our house and go into a separate box.

If the chip risks cutting a finger, filing it down a bit with sandpaper or an emery board will make it safer for its next use. Jars with just a tiny nick can be used to store dried foods like beans or pasta.  You can also store your button collection, old marbles or other notions. Using an old zinc lid for your antique collections adds to the charm. A pint jar can be filled with wax and a wick to create a candle. Since we have a bushel basket full of zinc lids in the old ‘grandpa house’ on our farm, this is another good place to use one for a rustic look.

My absolute favorite use for retired canning jars is to add them to my vase collection. Pints, quarts and half gallon both in clear and the old time blue are an easy and attractive way to arrange flowers to share with others. Adding a ribbon or raffia bow can dress up a clear jar and people don’t feel as guilty about not returning your vase knowing it is just an old canning jar. The blue jars which I have collected from the old grandpa house, farmhouse basement and estate auctions make bouquets look especially nice, as the blue compliments many flowers. We provided flowers from our garden for two weddings this summer. One bride had me arrange the flowers in clear mason jars, and the other wanted 100 blue jars full of flowers! Adding a burlap runner to the tables with the blue jars created a rustically elegant look for the reception (see photos above and at left). So the canning jar look is definitely “in” with brides these days.

Canning jars are definitely a valuable staple at our house, whether they are containing tomato sauce or yogurt or trinkets or flowers. What will you fill your jars with at your house? Be creative, even after they are beyond their canning career.