Food

Beyond canning and jamming: 5 surprising ways to use a Mason jar

Ah, the mighty Mason jar.

Sure, they're unparalleled when it comes to keeping your pantry ingredients corralled, for canning and jamming like a professional, and they look cute as heck when lined up on the counter.

But did you know you can also use a basic Mason jar for a bunch of kitchen needs beyond storage?

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How to layer a mason jar salad for the perfect lunch

Play Video - 0:59

How to layer a mason jar salad for the perfect lunch

Play Video - 0:59

These dishwasher-safe glass jars are super hardy and they're useful in a pinch when it comes to prepping meals, keeping ingredients fresh and even making cocktails. Here are five Mason jar hacks to try this week.

Use it as a cocktail shaker.

Instead of struggling with metal bar shakers that may freeze and leak, use a Mason jar. With its easy-to-seal lid, this jar makes shaking up margaritas and martinis easier than ever for the home bartender. While you can buy a screw-on strainer lid, it's not always necessary for cocktail time. Pour the drink ingredients into a pint-size or quart-size Mason jar, depending on the number of drinks you're serving, and add ice. Seal the lid and shake. Then remove the jar ring and tilt the flat lid to strain the cocktail into your glass, leaving ice and any herbs or citrus zest in the jar.

Store any leftover wine.

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Got any leftover wine? Just follow Hoda and pour it into a Mason jar!

Anyone with a little leftover wine will enjoy this handy hack! A Mason jar is one of the best ways to save newly-opened red or whites without risking oxidation. Pour what's left in the wine bottle into a jar and fill it as close to the brim as possible. Seal the jar and store in the refrigerator for up to five days. The super-tight seal on the Mason jar keeps air from reaching the wine, while the darkness and cool temperature in the refrigerator both slow the oxidation process further.

Prep some make-ahead meals.

A layered salad might be the prettiest, Pinterest-friendly meal you can make in a Mason jar, but the humble container isn't just for grab-and-go lunches. For a ready-to-serve breakfast, stir your favorite milk, spices, dried fruit, and rolled oats together in a jar and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, you can stir in maple syrup or your favorite sweetener, plus any nuts and seeds for a little extra crunch, and then enjoy!

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For dinner, stock the fridge with make-ahead "ramen" noodle jars. Fill each Mason jar with pre-cooked noodles, like leftover spaghetti, shirataki, rice noodles, or udon, along with add-ins like chopped chicken or shrimp and your favorite pre-cooked vegetables. Refrigerate until you're ready to eat, then heat up some chicken broth, vegetable broth, or miso broth. Carefully pour the hot broth into the jar, mix and then let everything steep for a few minutes before serving.

Looking for more kitchen and cooking tips? Check out these time-saving tricks for peeling garlic, slicing tomatoes and more!

Make an omelet in a jar.

Since Mason jars are made with heat-safe glass — they can withstand a boiling water bath when canning — they make a perfect vessel for cooking delicate eggs to fluffy perfection. Fill a jar halfway full with beaten eggs, vegetables and pre-cooked meats like bits of sausage or chopped bacon, if desired. Place the jar on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or microwave for 2 minutes. The eggs will puff up while cooking, then deflate as they cool. Cooked eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Keep herbs fresh for longer.

Have you ever spent money on beautifully fresh herbs, only to use one handful, then see the rest of the bunch quickly waste away in a plastic produce bag? Instead of letting that leftover parsley or cilantro wilt, try this simple storage trick. Rinse the herbs and dry them thoroughly using a salad spinner. Place the herbs on a paper towel in a single layer and loosely roll the towel up, then place the roll in a large Mason jar. Seal it tightly, then store it in the refrigerator and use the herbs within two weeks. The paper towel keeps the herbs just damp enough so they won't dry out or collect too much moisture on their leaves and stems.

12 Mason jars (16 ounce), $19, Amazon

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