The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

July 27, 2015

Storing Produce in Glass Is Safe, Healthy, and Beautiful

Storing in Glass is beautiful (c)

Last year, I received the following email from blog reader Melliny:

Hi…I recently began converting plastic to glass in my kitchen. It has been such an exciting experience to me that I took photos along the way to inspire my family to hopefully do the same…. The fact is that storing good food in glass is very beautiful, which is inspiring.

Please enjoy these gorgeous images, as well as Melliny’s explanation of how she stores fruits and vegetables in glass in her refrigerator.  At the end, I’ve added a few of my own ideas.

I got rid of the “vegetable bins” in my refrigerators where plastic bags filled with rotting produce are most likely to live and use glass jars to store almost everything. You don’t need veggie bins when each type of produce you have has its own transparent glass container.  It is also more convenient sometimes to lay tall jars on their sides, such as when you have soft, heavy fruit like peaches and don’t want the weight of them to smush those on the bottom.

Removed Produce Bins
Larger jars for storing produce:  Many of my largest jars somehow came my way free of cost.  Wal-Mart, has a 1 gallon “cracker jar” and another large jar that I’ve found to be convenient sizes and shapes.

WalMart Cracker Jar

I’ve recently added to my collection a couple of excellent large jars from Sundance that are heavy glass, have heavy stainless steel lids, are useful and a pleasure to look at.  An interesting assortment of good jars can be found at second-hand stores.

Sundance Jars

And of course, whenever you are still able to buy food in a glass jar, save it!  If you have lots of canning jars and don’t need/want non-standard jars, they can still come in handy for giving food away to family and friends.

I love the jars that sit at a tilt with a loose-fitting lid for lettuce and other greens, and for grab-and-go fruit, such as peaches, apples, plums.  Make a quick little salad or grab a peach without even taking the jar out of the fridge.

Tilt Jars
Fruits and veggies that contain a lot of water should have a floppy lid on their jar, or waxed paper with a canning ring screwed down over it.  You can add or take away humidity also by using a piece of damp paper towel in the bottom of some jars (carrots, celery) and a piece of dry paper towel in the bottom of others (grapes, berries, cucumbers).

Beth’s note:  To keep celery, carrots, and radishes crunchy, I actually fill up the jar with water and keep them immersed, rather than using a damp towel.  Try what works for you.

Waxed Paper and ventilation

Storing long skinny things

 

(This is also a very handy solution if you have just one too many cherry tomatoes for the size jar you are using—use waxed paper instead of a hard lid and you get a little more room.)

Waxed paper makes more room

Spinach and lettuce stored properly in large glass jars look as good a week or 2 later as when you bought them.  In fact, I don’t always have access to premium produce.  In Florida’s hot summers, the greens can be heat damaged.  But if you give them a cold bath, spin it, toss the limp stuff and store it in glass, it is a nice crisp salad 10 days later.  I refuse to go to the store any more often than once a week, and if I can go longer, that’s even better.

For mushrooms, I use a square of paper towel instead, as they need a lot of ventilation.

Storing Mushrooms

Convenient! Only TWO (2) standard sized lids!  For all the many sizes available in canning jars, there are only two standard sized lids.  So, hopefully the canning jar industry won’t decide to change that highly desirable feature.  No more searching for a lid that looks like 10 other lids and doesn’t fit the container you have in your hand!

Canning Jar Sizes

The lids that come with canning jars are metal 2-piece lids.  If you don’t want plastic to touch your food, leave a little airspace when using jars or other glass containers that have plastic lids.  If it’s not possible to leave airspace, you can put waxed paper between the food and the lid, or you can just flip the inside disk part of the lid over, so that the metal faces in instead of out, as long as you’re not using the jar for canning.

Other Benefits of Glass

Easy to clean!  Glass is a non-porous material that resists dirt, is very easy to clean, and it’s clear at a glance whether it’s clean or dirty.

Fast dry in dishwasher or drain board.  Plastic is porous, so drying is slow.  Drying dishes is something I refuse to do.  I think some people just put them away wet, and then wonder why their kitchen cabinets are disintegrating or warping.

Less waste! Because glass is transparent, you can SEE your food, and will be more likely to eat it before it gets old.  If you are a foodie and love fresh fruits and veggies, you will be very pleased with how beautiful they look in your fridge!

Maintain freshness longer!  Fresher in glass?  I believe, and my friends and family who have switched to glass believe that many foods stay fresher in glass than in plastic.  (We have not conducted any scientific experiment, it is just our experience.)  For instance—raspberries?  Very perishable.  I put some in a glass jar with a bit of paper towel in the bottom, and a week later, they were still good.  For most fruits and veggies I would recommend:  Put a half paper towel in the bottom of the jar before filling with produce.

Healthier for you!  Glass is inert, so you won’t ingest chemicals like those in plastic, BPA or otherwise, which are endocrine disrupters with an estrogenic effect.  (See my tips above for reducing exposure to the plastic inside the lids.)

Healthier for the environment!  Plastic makes its way into our rivers, lakes and oceans, where it breaks down and is ingested by the creatures who live there.  Eventually, we eat some of these creatures and are eating our own plastic waste.

Two cents from Beth…

I personally have not spent money to purchase very many glass jars.  I haven’t needed to because my cupboard is full of glass jars from store bought pickles, peanut butter, condiments, pasta sauce, etc.

20150727_090940

I reuse those jars in the cupboard, refrigerator, and even freezer.

dried legumes in glass jars 09-01-refrigerator-storage storing beans in glass jars in the freezer

But recognizing that glass too has an environmental footprint (and in the interest of simplifying and de-hoarding), I have been cutting down on the number of new jars we acquire.  For example, I make my own mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, and most recently tomato sauce so that I can simply reuse the jars I have rather than collecting new ones.

tomato-sauce-08

 

What are some other ways that you use glass instead of plastic?

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Kingston

Glass as an impermeable item helps in keeping food products safe from external elements like microorganisms, which does not keeps the product fresh while stored but also extends the shelf life of the products. Along, with that the non-toxic nature of glass makes it safe for storage of edible products for longer duration’s. Lastly and most importantly glass bottles helps in preserving flavour of food’s longer than any other form of packaging.

Cyndi

Hi. Question: Do I need a fruit bowl? Or should things that sit out go in jars? And what kinds of things should sit out?

Trina Rigby

I’m just learning to keep produce and veggies in Mason jars can you tell me which ones are safe to store in them

like
raspberries
blueberries
grape tomatoes
cucumber
grapes
kiwi
thank you🙂

Lisa Beckstrom

Very helpful! I’ve been thinking about doing away with my crisper fridge drawers, and this seems like a great solution.

Dylan

I keep mushrooms in brown paper bags in the fridge.

Judith

This is awesome! I love the idea of the tilted jars for spinach and salad greens. I have several and I’m going to do this. I just wish I could find a market place that sells loose spinach and greens in bins and not in plastic boxes, Whole Foods doesn’t even sell loose any longer. I get looks from people when i don’t use bags and just put my fruits and veg in the cart. I tell them it’s more sportsman-like to let them roam free for as long as possible.

donttrashfuture

Some really great tips that I’ll be sure to adopt. Time to save all those glass jars! I personally love using water bottles made of glass, which allow me to infuse the water with my favourite fruits. Not only is it a healthier option, it also makes the bottle look more vibrant without harming the environment. Great post Beth!

Nicole

We love the idea of storing food in glass containers. We also shared your Tedx talk on our groups website. Thank you for being such an inspiration! Nicole at Vermont Youth for Eco Action

Joyce Howden

I came to this post late (but not too late as I do use glass for dry goods) but I don’t buy paper towels. Another person asked if using cloth would work. Does anyone have an answer? Beth? Love your blog .

Lisa

I’ve come to this post VERY late – but if you haven’t yet experimented and found the answer, I use a cloth napkin inside my fruit and veg storage instead of paper towel. Does the job perfectly.

ericbosloor

There are a lot of plans in storage for this are in Sydney aren’t there! Seems like there’s a lot of movers and shakers coming in to this part of town!

Maria

My husband makes him juice and stores it in jars saved from the market. I was always complaining to him he has to many and they are a nuisance.
He will be so happy I read this article

Dagmar

I love this idea

Sophie-SCHF

What an awesome idea! It looks great and it’s a surefire way to avoid toxic chemical exposure from plastic containers :-) Thanks for sharing!

Lily

This is a great idea! I am wondering if using cloth instead of ‘paper’ towels would work just as well.

rgramblings

Everything just looks nicer in glass… but carrots in glass jars – there’s one I’d never thought about! Great post :)

Agata

to be honest… WOW, why didn’t I think about it earlier:D I recently gave my hubby a lot of old plastic containers from Ikea (for nails, metal parts etc…) as I felt that food stored in them went out a lot faster than just sitting in the fridge on the plate, and the stains from the tomato sauce… Everything that we buy and has a plastic wrap I immediately take out, clean and just put in the fridge compartment, but I’m just gonna get rid of it and use jars instead:D my family already think that I’m crazy, well:D… you… Read more »

jonnie

One thing I have learned the hard way is to NOT invest in pyrex storage containers. they’re not recyclable should you break one :(

Elyse Hochstadt

Hi Beth, thanks so much. I’m going to test out the veggie storage in glass jars, I’ve never done that before except for pickling. Just putting some spinach in one now.
I use glass jars as you’ve suggested for storage of dry goods and sauces I also use them for taking my smoothy on the road!

robyn d

Wow. This is one of those why didn’t I think of that moments. I have so many extra canning jars.

Felicia

This is awesome, I’m inspired! Thank you for your insight!

Julie Rowan-Zoch

Great tips here, thanks!