When I say this is surprising, I mostly mean to me. For all I know, you have thought of this years ago and are wondering why I'm just now catching up. But, nonetheless, I'm pretty excited.
It occurred to me today that mason jars have the potential to be an amazing-all-around-multitasker. Here's just the list of ideas I came up with and I'm sure there are more uses I'm not considering:
1. Canning: The classic use for one of these jars is pressure canning preserves, pickles, tomato sauce and the like for long term storage.
2. Freezing: They can be used as containers to freeze anything from leftovers to sauces to broths, so long as air is left at the top and a softer (not solid metal) lid is used to prevent the jar from exploding.
3. Refrigeration: Toss your leftovers in a jar and pop it in a fridge, with the upside that they can be heated in the microwave the next day in the same jar. They are a little heavier than tupperware but the shape can make them easier to transport to and from work or school. They'll also fit and stack neatly in the fridge, and can even be stored in the door.
4. Serving: Eat soups, pastas, casseroles, ice cream and other desserts served in the jars. Can also serve drinks, as some restaurants have proven. Jars can take the place of the "one bowl" idea, as you can serve most foods in jars as you could a bowl, the main exception being foods that need cut apart like steak.
5. Dry Storage: Jars are great for storing dry items, you can see what is in it and the containers can seal nice and tight. They could be used to store anything from flour to pasta to cereal. They can take cereal from storage to serving - grab a jar, pour in milk and eat!
6. Plants: The jars can be used to display cut flowers in water, germinate seeds, make a terarrium with moss, or as a planter for small (shallow root) plants.
7. Tool holders: Jars can be a convenient place to put pens, pencils, etc, or hold kitchen tools like spatulas and tongs.
8. Toiletries/cleansers: If you make your own soaps, dish/laundry detergents, or other cleansers, jars can be a great way to store those as well.
9. Recycled: Jars don't have to be bought new- because they are glass, they can be sanitized and cleaned in high heat. They can be found all over in vintage/thrift stores, at yardsales and many families have been handing them down for generations. Most people are more hesitant to throw away a glass jar than a cheap plastic container, so they are more likely to either be resold or make it to a recycling facility.
10. Decorative: Jars have been a part of vintage and country decorating for some time now, but they can make their way into more contemporary design as well. Being glass and relatively plain in shape, they can fit with almost any decorating motiff and would look great lined up on shelves in any kitchen. There is a trend towards open cabinets or even replacing the cabinets with shelving, and a long row of jars makes a bold statement.
11. Crafts: Ribbons, yarns, beads, and other craft items can be tamed by jars as well, while remaining easy to spot on a shelf.
That's a short list of my ideas, what are yours?