Prepping, homesteading and living the simple, green, independent life.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mason Jars: Great Invention or Greatest Invention?

I'm seriously falling in love with mason jars.  They're just so useful!

It seems like every week I think of new ways to use them.  I'd even use them to drink out of but my wife would kill me.

One thing that's been bothering me for a while are the amount of ziploc-type bags we go through.  I mean, it seems kinda wasteful doesn't it?  I know some people who wash these bags and re-use them but my wife again isn't too keen on that either.

 Plus the thought of plastics degrading overtime in contact with food...I know, I'm probably just paranoid.

So a few weeks back I'm at the grocery store and I decided to buy some of those mini-hamburger patties (sometimes called "sliders") that my girls love.  I did them on the BBQ and after we ate there were a bunch of them leftover.

Since all our containers weren't cleaned yet I was about to use a ziploc bag when I thought, "I bet those mini-burgers will fit well in mason jars...".  And they did!

Then I decided that since they were in the jars, I might as well vacuum seal those suckers, freeze them, and then they'll last a long time (the vacuum sealer instructions says up to a year if you trust that).

So that's what I did.  I also froze the little buns too so now I can pull out a few burgers for them for a quick meal for my girls.

I also rehydrate a little bit of dehydrated onions for them which they love.  The dehydrated onions turn out like those little onion pieces that McDonalds puts on their burgers; the dehydration increases the sweetness.

This got me thinking of what else I could put in mason jars and freeze but so far the only other thing I've done is ground beef.

I try to buy the bulk packs of ground beef and split it up into smaller portions in ziploc bags.  Sometimes I'll cook it up before freezing it for quick meals later but thawing the beef in the microwave while in the ziploc was always kinda gross.

So what I'm doing now is cooking the beef when I get home (throw in some dehydrated onions for flavour) and portion it out into mason jars that are then vacuum sealed.

This makes it super-easy to make pate chinois (French-Canadian style sheppard's pie).

All I do is microwave the ground beef in the mason jar, boil some dehydrated corn, and make some mashed potatoes, which is the hardest part.  I could use dehydrated potato flakes but it's not as good.  Maybe someday I'll have discovered the secret to making your own dehydrated mashed potatoes.

We've also started going to a Bulk Barn that opened up in my home town and instead of leaving everything lying around in the plastic baggies the store supplies, I've been putting the stuff in mason jars and vacuum sealing them if we're not going to use them right away.

With all these uses I'm finding for mason jars I think I'm going to buy one of the dedicated mason jar vacuum sealer attachments.  The canister work-around is great but the largest mason jars, which I didn't think I'd use often, wont fit inside.

I think I'm also going to pick up some of those plastic lids for the jars instead of just using the metal ring and lid.  Once the vacuum seal is broke, what's the point of fooling around with the ring and lid right?  Might as well keep them in good condition to be re-used.  I need to conserve my supplies 'cause once you get started with mason jars you can't stop! At least that seems to be the my case.

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