Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Unusual uses for canning jars

A cute reference by Dogs or Dollars to the "Cuppow" (a way of turning a canning jar into a beverage cup) got the old cogs spinning.  I'm All For using canning jars (or anything else ready to hand, really) in unexpected ways.  In fact, I wrote recently about how much I've come to love using canning jars to carry my lunch around.

Canning jars are great for storing lots of stuff besides canned foods.  Check out 50 Great Ways to Use Mason Jars, or 10 Uses for Old Canning Jars.  (The first link has more ideas; the second has more pictures).  Most of these ideas are about stuff you can put into the jars -- that is, most of these ideas would work just as well for any kind of jar, really.

But canning jars are special because they have a lid and a ring -- and having these two different pieces means you can swap out the top for something really different.  So here are some MORE ideas for using canning jars -- provided you already have them lying around.

1.  Gift-card lid.
Here's one of the simplest lid-swaps I've done (actually, it's a lid addition).  Using another lid as a stencil, I've cut up a greeting card to put between the (sealed) metal lid and the ring to pretty up a gift.

2.  Funnel lid.

Top view of the funnel jar.
I found a funnel I wasn't using that magically fit right into a canning jar.  (Score!  I love that kind of serendipity).  I cut a larger hole at the bottom of the funnel; now this makes our "one-way" coin jar.  It's easy to toss coins in.  We'll use these coins next summer when we go yard saling: you're looking at my clothes budget, right here!

The beginning of the clothing budget for the year.
3.  Spout lid.
Use a canning lid as a template.
Grab an old salt container.  (My non-miser husband buys name-brand salt; I find that generic brands are better because the paper label around the spout comes off more completely).  Use an existing lid as a template, and cut out a circle containing the spout.  The new jar can be used to pour small amounts of sugar, dry milk, etc.

A canning jar with a spout, for pouring powdered goods.

4.  Beverage lid
And beverages?  As much as I love the concept, I can't bring myself to pay $8 to buy a little plastic lid (sorry, Cuppow!) -- it's against my religion and all that.  I spent a weekend examining the rest of my travel mugs, hoping that something would magically fit (like that funnel).  No luck.  But looking at all the little holes made me realize that three-dimensionality isn't as crucial as I'd first thought.  So I grabbed a can punch and an old lid -- a hammer helped to start the hole. Bingo!
My "new" travel mug, made from 100% old parts.

Beverage lid: view from above.  Success!  Yes!
If you're not a canning jar aficionado but you like one of these ideas, you can go "backwards" from a standard canning trick.  Because the lids are the same size, a bunch of my friends who can jam will use glass mayonnaise jars with canning rings and lids. (You can't use mayonnaise jars in a pressure canner).  If you just get your hands on a few rings, then all of these alternative lids would work just as well for mayonnaise jars or many other kitchen jars.  In fact, our parmesan cheese comes in a container whose lid fits my canning jars -- I didn't show that here.  


  1. Very nice! Although, I think I am more impressed by the funnel and the spouts! Not to mention your clothing budget.

    The travel mug though... 2 concerns. 1. dribblage. How's that going? I have a hard enough time keeping my coffee off my shirt. 2. BPA, because I'm weird like that. As I understand it, its the sealant in the old lids that leeches nastiness. I reuse lids a lot for dry stuff, but avoid liquids to minimize contact. Hmmm... Thoughts? Or am I the only one that worries over such things?

    I have not purchased a Cuppow, but I have crocheted a cozy.

    1. Dribblage -- not. I've toted this thing around with me for two days now, and no problems. And BPA? I am clueless. I might be weird that way if I knew anything about it, but I don't. It seems investigation is warranted.

    2. I'm a fan of using containers to get the things organized. But more than food, I reuse then to keep brico stuff such as screws, bolts, pins, cables, and anything (small) that I can imagine I could need sometime in future.
      In the past, I used to employ all kind of containers but lately I am inclined to use only the transparent ones, being of plastic or glass, because it helps a lot to identify the content.