Recycle for Spice Jars

Creating Spice Jars from Old

Glass spice jars are the best. You can see what you need from seeing the colour inside and be able to tell if you are running out. I find that many companies offer spices in a jar that has a lid of plastic which invariably comes apart and is then useless. Screw top is best. So when you have run out of a spice, and need to get more, take the opportunity to find a good jar to reuse for it instead. An added benefit to that then you can buy spices, often cheaper, and certainly more sustainably, in a bulk bag that you use as refill.

So is it crazy that when buying cooking ingredients i am also assessing the glass jars they come in because I will be reusing them in some way? For nuts and flour the large jars that olives or gherkins come in are good, but for spices the small jars that have mustard, capers, speciality sauces, are perfect – a smaller drawer or shelf friendly size, more uniform, and will hold about the right amount that keeps fresh. (refill bags that are not entirely decanted into a jar will need to be tightly sealed and kept in a cool dark place until they can be used up).

Reused glass jars of all sizes, and refilled spice jars labelled up
Homemade Berbere spice ready for a recycled jar
Masking tape and felt tip pen for labels that can be rewritten and replaced
Brightly, and clearly, labelled up for the depths of the freezer

Professional kitchens are full of containers covered with handwritten titles or instructions written onto tape, and then stuck onto the outside. The containers and jars are then completely reusable and when the contents change so does the handwritten label. And that is how I do my spice jars, and Hokan Bowls. When a Hokan is in the freezer I can clearly see what is inside. What head chef always insist upon is that the tale is cut and trimmed with scissors for neatness. Yep true (and exactly how I like it)

So to get the original label off the jars depends on how they are manufactured. Some won’t ever come off and tape can be placed over them but most will have an easy adhesive or a difficult one. Two methods for removal are soaking in warm soapy water until the glue is softened and then scrape off with the blunt edge of a knife, or by filling the jar up with boiling water to dissolve the more difficult adhesives from the inside, and the carefully scraping the label, again with a knife , and not splashing the boiling hot water over yourself. 

A label on the lid and one on the side maybe and you are done. Good to feel that you have recycled, saved money, and cleaned out your spice rack!  

This of course leads me onto the insanity of jar and container design. In a world where we understand the need not to waste, why do companies insist on their designed container shapes that make it impossible not to be able to get the last bits out. Often what is left is not an  insubstantial amount. Enough for another spread of peanut butter on a slice of toast for instance. One last dollop of syrup. I actually think that it is cynical not to provide the food that is bought in a container, for it not to provide all of it for you. Quite apart from being so tone deaf to food waste.

So lets take it to the manufacturers I say. Make them up their game and not be so egotistical as to this that their ‘shape’ of container is more important than not wasting food and money.

So many different types of jars which can be used specifically for different uses. For example the tall olive jars I use for pickled cucumber and rhubarb, the smaller ones for pastes and sauces. The reusable jar world is my oyster if I was not vegetarian!