Les Jars

jars

I hope for your sake that you’re nothing like me. If you are, you’ve probably saved every single glass jar that’s ever crossed your path. (Don’t even get me started on reusable plastic containers, which merit a whole separate post.) Once something lands in my apartment, it’s there for the duration. Someone once attempted to give me a smackdown for advising my favorite people in the world, my readers, to cover their cookie dough in plastic wrap.

But little did she know that I’ve been using the same sheets of plastic wrap, and plastic bags, since my arrival in Paris many years ago, which I rinse and dry methodically. Believe me, if a plastic bag or jar ever exits my threshold, it’s destined for only one place, and that’s the Smithsonian.

jar collection

I have two areas in my apartment specifically dedicated to the preservation of glass jars. One is for jars I use for jams and jellies, and the other is for jars I’ve used for pickles, kimchi, and other things that are stinky. And nary the two shall meet: we all, somehow, have learned to co-exist in my tiny garret.

I am an avid jam-maker and I always make jars and jars of jam with whatever fruit happens to be copious at the market. It’s a bit of a sickness and like my cabinet that’s a jumble of plastic containers, I’d need to increase the bandwidth here to let you know what’s going on in my refrigerator. When giving away my overload, I choose which jar goes to whom; if it’s a particularly pretty or interesting jar, it goes to someone I really like. If it’s a dinky jar, it’s for someone I don’t know all that well, but still want to give them a taste of the jam.

(If you don’t get anything, well, you know where you stand. Sorry)

ziploc bag

A lot of jars, especially in France, are pretty distinctive, French Dijon mustard jars come to mind. And in France, Bonne Maman jams and marmalade come in attractive ribbed jars with wide mouths which make them easy to refill with your own confiture du jour. Plus the labels come off easily after only a brief soaking.

To jar fanatics like me, there is absolutely nothing more annoying than those labels that don’t slide off after a few moments of soaking, meaning those of us with OCD (obsessive confiture-jar disorder) have to scrape them with our fingernails and get all that icky glue stuck underneath them. (My kingdom for a gallon of Goo Gone. I lent ‘someone’ my bottle of it a while back, and haven’t seen it since. And yes, that same ‘someone‘ does get a majority of my jam—on a regular basis.)

working glasses

(On an dubiously tangential note, it’s funny that Americans have co-opted French jam jars for use as drinking glasses, which somehow got dubbed French “Working” Glasses. I’d defy anyone to go into a French home and not find at least one long-emptied mustard jar being used as a glass—which I’ve seen called a “verre à whisky”, with the distinctive swirl of ridges. So I guess mustard jars are okay, but those “working” glasses definitely don’t “work” for anything but storing jam: drinking out of one is considered un peu bizarre. And speaking of bizarre, there’s a new trend in Paris to serve soup in canning jars. What the enfer is up with that? I don’t mean to offend anybody, but if we can’t drink from your jars, then you can’t eat soup from them either.)

maille mustard maille mustard

I often ride my bike down the Quai des Celestins since it has a bike path and is marginally safer than riding on the suicidal thoroughfare. It’s actually not all that safe as the Midas muffler shop regularly has cars double-parked and if you’re taking in the scenery and forget, and don’t swerve away quickly, you’ll likely to fly over the handlebars and plaster yourself on the side of a Citroën. There’s a great shop on the corner, agreeably called Cornershop Diffusion, and the brightly lit window filled with Danish flatware and other modernist goodies always makes me stop, gradually, to take a look.

I keep hoping that my sleek—but somewhat unusable…at least according to my resident jam-eater, Arne Jacobsen flatware will one day be on sale, so I can add a few more pieces. Including that elusive—and pricey…bouillon spoon that I seem to be missing, that may, or may not, have gotten swiped. If you’re out there and have a single Georg Jensen bouillon spoon in your possession, and don’t get any jam from me, well, I hope you’re enjoying that spoon.

One recent evening I was riding by and, as usual, I slowed down when passing their brightly illuminated window, looking for my flatware en promotion. Since I’m an optimist, hope springs eternal, but I haven’t seen it yet. Yet illuminated in the window were these graceful, charming jar tops. I gently squeezed the brakes, not wanting to risk of flying over the handlebars, because I knew that life again was worth living when I discovered yet another, and rather creative, use for my reusable jars.

So the other day, I took a walk over there to get them. When the clerk showed me the box, I noted, rather incongruously, that there was quite a bit of packaging involved to wrap these five jar tops, which I presume was meant to be a ‘green’ gesture. There was a box, a cardboard slotted holder for the lids inside, plus two reinforced cardboard side holders, and each screw top was individually wrapped in plastic. And there was an instructions book. Raise your hand if you need instructions for screwing a lid on a jar.

jars

But since I was riding a bike, not driving, I figured I was neutralizing mon empreinte carbone so I bought them. What was funny was when after I paid, the clerk reached for a bag while I was simultaneously opening my reusable shopping tote, to take them home. “Il faut!” I said, (“It’s a must!”) and we both had a good laugh as he slid the box into my nylon sack. And now I’ve got five jars with new lids, and new lives.

Cornershop Diffusion
3, rue Saint-Paul (4th)
Tél: 01 42 77 50 88
(Map)



Related Links and Posts

Royal VKB (Jar Tops)

How to Find Food and Other Items I Mention on the Website

Cookware Shops in Paris

No Recipe Cherry Jam

Cheesecake Baked in Little Jars (Chez Pim)

Five Extra-Pretty Canning Jars (The Kitchn)

Coconut Rice Pudding (delicious:days)

Rhubarb-Berry Jam

Weck Canning Jars (Heath Ceramics)

Christine Ferber’s Strawberry-Lemongrass Jam (Wednesday Chef)

Le Glaneur

How to Make French Vinaigrette



159 comments

  • I’ve been using some of the plastic bags that I’ve brought with me when I moved to Japan over 9 years ago (rinsing and re-using). I also have a “jar collection” but haven’t enough space to have 2 separate areas. As for those awful labels that don’t come off after soaking, I usually use some durable tape to take off that “stickiness”….loved this post!

  • Goo Gone is great, but in a pinch, plain old vegetable oil works extremely well for removing sticker glue :)

  • I need to get rid of all the jars I have stored! Somebody needs to host a jar yard sale and I’d bring a big loot! Thanks for sharing, David!

  • Jars-I love wide mouth squatty ones and really narrow tall ones.

    This new Paris trend of serving in canning jars has swept the US, too. I was served a lemon curd dessert in one the other night. Beautiful, but when every resto is doing it…

  • Oh my, you have reminded me of some great jar shapes. My cellar is full of glass fruit juice bottles with bobbled glass that the manufacturer stupidly replaced with plastic and I yearn to fill them with homemade lemonade sometime soon.

    I chucked my plastic container collection but they were damn useful when making mass quantities of trifle for a local summer fair.

  • I am absolutely a jar-hoarder! (Although in our recent move, I was only allowed to keep the ones that had something in them already, and a couple of special ones that I had to choose. The rest went to the recycling.) Love the jar tops – I think they’re a fantastic idea! And yes, then there’s the problem of the reusable plasic containers…

  • Kathy: That’s the problem with all these ‘novelties’-once everyone starts doing them, it’s time to move on to something else. In the end, good food doesn’t need gimmicks, though. And most food get served in their appropriate container(s) for a reason—Champagne flutes, bento boxes, soufflé ramekins, etc..

    kat: When some friends were moving from the US to London a few years back, I thought they were a little nutty to be packing plastic yogurt containers, which they said were hard to come by over here. But now I see the logic, although I buy fromage blanc in 500ml plastic containers, which are the perfect size for giving away a half-batch of ice cream!

  • Perfect. You have described my own obsession, but as usual, you make it sound much more charming being in a tiny kitchen in Paris. Me, I’m just a hoarder with a basement in Indianapolis.

  • I have to confess, I’m a jar-hoarder like you and recently had to (reluctantly) give away a large box of them because I just can’t make space for them in my tiny kitchen any more.
    *love* the jar tops, I wish I could find those here!

  • I save jars too but I worry about the lids. It seems like I can never fully clean the insides of the grooves and I don’t know if they’re food-safe or not…any advice, david?

  • Your cutlery set is on “sale” over at danskdesign.nu
    I was a jar + plastic container hoarder but had to recycle my “collection” when I moved. Decided that I’d just invest in a proper good set of plastic containers + save the occasional jar when I fancy the jar. But I must say that the jars in France appear to be way fancier than those in Sweden. I would be more of a jar squirrel if I was living in France.

  • I love these jar tops – Jorre van Ast (the designer) is a mad design genius. I’m buying some today!

  • Oh, you’re making me cry! I just moved back stateside Tuesday and I am going through withdrawl. I spent too much time thinking about what to do with my jar collection before I left and decided to leave it to the next family renting the house. I hope they get as much satisfaction out of it as I did. We had a fair number of baby food jars as well which made rotations on our picnics. I even used the scalding hot tap water in baby food jars as hand warmers for my kids on their walk to school. David, have you every compiled a list of suggestions for those of us now stuck stateside of items we can find here?

  • After my mother died, my sister and I found boxes and boxes and BOXES of empty jars, each one labeled, “Jars to Paint”. Luckily … they found a good home and NOT the dumpster! I’ve been known to buy pickles, just for the jars, the really big ones there’s no earthly way to actually eat so many pickles. Fun post, David, fun!

  • David,
    Is there a way to print your recipes without printing the piece? I like to bake from a piece of paper rather than from my laptop since I can be a messy cook. I am making this cake for dinner tonight and serving it with strawberries and your Philadelphia style ice cream and your hot fudge sauce. You’re invited, if you are free. I live on the East Coast of Massachusetts and the weather is gorgeous. Dinner is oven-fried chicken (Sara Moulton’s recipe with pounds of butter), cornbread (Northern style which is sweetened), Boston baked beans and coleslaw. I’ll set a place for you. Sue

  • So funny. Goo-gone? I never heard of it but will look for it. Good for you for helping the environment and saving even plastic bags. I do the same and hold on to a lot of jars until the cabinets can’t hold anymore. If I could find those mustard jars here, I would push aside all my other everyday glassware. Those black tops for the jars are such a nifty idea.

  • I saw those lids a little while back, I think on shelterrific.com, and was so tempted! The only issue I have is that the lids don’t have lids (I know) for storage. Basically you’re supposed to use the jars to pour, then take the plastic lid off and put the original lid back on? It seems that a better design would have been to create these great spouts and sifters with sealable tops so that they can go back in the fridge, or on the shelf or wherever you keep what you keep
    And yep, I too am a jar and plastic deli container hoarder. Why buy Tupperware or those Glad reusable containers if you get sealable packaging free with purchase? ;)

  • Only this morning, after rinsing out another 5 jars, did I think to myself’ Is there anyone else who hoards jars like this?’ I had a rapid flash forward of being 90 years old and having to be rescued from a house full of jars, known only as ‘the old jar lady’

    But yet here we all are, jar hoarders (not so) anonymous.

    On a side note – David, I *love* your blog. Your writing and food is delicious!

  • My obsession, precisely. I’m so glad we are not alone :)

  • What a neat find! For US readers, just wanted to note that the MoMA store appears to sell them online. (Boy am I glad I don’t live in New York, or I’d spend all my money there!): Jorre Van Ast Jar Tops

  • Oh lord, I know *exactly* what you mean about those annoying stuck-on labels and scraping the good with your fingernails. Ugh ugh ugh. Worst feelings ever (hyperbole alert), and they never seem to get totally clean!

  • Yes, I collect them all as well. Sometimes I sort through them but hardly throw anything out it seems.
    great find on the tops/ lids.

  • I laughed when I saw this post – I am not alone! Vindication at last! My husband rolls his eyes at my jar hoarding habit but I hate waste and they are just so useful, you know? I keep some of my beading supplies in the smaller jars and since I’ve started experimenting with whole-grain baking (love Kim Boyce’s new book, Good to the Grain), they are perfect for storing small amounts of unusual flours. I’m sure I can think of LOTS of other uses for them. When I’m feeling inspired (or OCD, take your pick), I use up leftover bits of wrapping paper to cover the lids so they look a little nicer. I’d love to find the jar covers in your post – what a great idea.

    P.S. Goo Gone is great for removing sticker gunk, but barring that a really thin plastic scraper will get off most residue – this is what bookstores use to take off labels and price tags. Works like a charm.

  • I think French people see a huge difference between the jars used to drink in America and the mustard glasses : the screw path on the top ! (or the glass bead top, for those without the screw path). It would be funny/awkward to the French to drink with the lips on this disturbing glass element, or from a glass that pours uneasily (seen that way at least) because of its weird edge.

    Mustards containers are sometimes called glasses because they are actual drink glasses filled with mustard and covered with a plastic top, not a hacked jar. They are bought in the very purpose to join a collection of them, we love them a lot as you know :D. I still have some from my childhood with my dearest comic book heroes, intact, they are my dear treasury :D.
    So, French people would happily drink from those glasses or any repurposed glasses, no matter the previous content. but they wouldn’t drink from mustard jars or any repurposed jars, as long as they would be “real” jars with a disturbing edge.

    (hopes that makes sense, I kept wondering if I wasn’t making some funny language mistakes around the word “screw” :D !)

  • I also hoard jars. We moved recently and my father-in-law tried to insist that we toss all my carefully cleaned jars. That suggestion didn’t go over so well! I also love my Goo Gone for removing those labels that are particularly persistent.
    I absolutely love those lids… Too bad shipping to the US is twice the cost of the actual lids!

  • I love to reuse jars too. Everyone on the blog must be stricken with the same jar loving affliction! I use mine to pour used grease in, then place it in the freezer. I think it is a myth, but my mom always said not to pour it down the disposal. My mother in law used to leave it under the sink, but then it would stink to high heaven, so jar or grease in the freezer it is :) I think jam would be a better use though, definitely tastier than used bacon grease! Thanks David

  • as someone who has an impossibly hard time throwing out jars ~ especially considering i NEVER make jam in them ~ those lids look like heaven for me. i need to look around and see if there’s something similar available here…

  • P.S. if i can’t find lids like that in america, i am perfectly willing to trade with you: a box of lids for my huge bottle of goo-be-gone. and if you could throw in one of those gorgeous maille jars, i’ll be your b.f.f. :)

  • I don’t know what the shipping would be, but here’s two right-handed Arne Jacobsen boullion spoons for $45.
    http://geolinonline.com/activepages/product.html?ProductId=5699

    And here’s a left-handed one for $24 to an EEC shipping address with Danish sales tax included.
    http://www.skovlarsen.com/GB_Detailview.aspx?ProductID=107598

  • Bonne Maman jars are the best! And the ones with dulce de leche too because they have that cute square of burlap that I also save. You are obviously not alone in your jar fixation. You have made me feel very guilty about not rinsing and reusing those plastic bags though. I vow to follow your example and become less wasteful.

  • Peanut butter is the absolute best for removing water-resistant glued on labels.

  • Add another bottle hoarder to the list. The easiest way to remove the label is to fill the jar with hot water and let it sit for a few minutes. The label will peel right off – and the glue wipes off too. Then use the water to water your plants.

  • Hannah: The big department stores in Paris, especially the BHV, all use those paper labels which are really hard to get off. They drive me nuts! But I was told they use them so people can’t peel them off in the store. Which makes sense.

    Carol+ Wendy: Thanks, I know they are available, but they’re still so expensive now. There’s a place in the states that’s pretty inexpensive and I plan to pick some up on my next trip. (Oddly, the prices in America are cheaper than in European..and it’s a European company!) But Wendy, I will check on those sale prices..thanks!

    Amy W: It’s true that you shouldn’t dump grease down drains, your mother-in-law was right (!) I saw a television program of how grease gets trapped in the ecosystem and sewer pipes, so it is best to dispose of it elsewhere.

    Sue: Because the site was set up years before the idea of a print option was available, to do so at this point, I’d have to go back and configure over a thousand posts. Yikes! (Any volunteers?)

    There are sites like Print What You Like, as well as others, that allow you to print specific web pages. And thanks for the invite to dinner. Fried chicken is one of my favorite things, and corn on the cob, too…

    Krysalia: One American woman did tell me she likes those “working glasses” because they were impossible for her kids to knock over. And yes, I know all about those French juice glasses. And I do love the mustard ones, although I can’t say I have a collection of them. Yet ; )

  • David,

    I highly recommend the japanese vegetable brush (Kamenoko Tawashi) for removing labels off jars. Little or no soaking required!

  • Just a note on the plastic containers, from old Tupperware to empty yogurt — BPA is in them and should not be in us. BPA is in almost everything, including canned foods. It is in almost all plastic storage containers, and is especially bad for food storage, liquid storage, and microwave cooking. So a few days ago I rounded up all my old plastic containers and sent them to the recycling, except for my egg tray and a couple of pitchers, which are taking some time to replace. And then I got a new set of non-BPA containers to replace them. Trauma followed by catharsis. I do not know, but suspect, that plastic storage bags are also a problem. So my jar collection is growing, as my plastic collection is staying small, and BPA free.

  • I’m seconding Soozzie. Plastic bags & containers are full of BPA (BPAs are BAD!) and the longer you use them (or heat them up in the microwave or dishwasher) the more the BPA is released into your system. I too, have switched almost entirely to glass. For the most part it’s been easy, except for Ziploc bags. They are just so darn handy. If you can’t live without plastic bags try these …

    http://www.biobagusa.com/catering.htm

    The only thing I haven’t found a substitute for is plastic wrap.

  • It really sounds like you have my obsession. I love containers, jars, plastic containers, ziploc bags and all sorts of things. My wife thinks that I am nuts. I even keep wine bottles sometimes in the vain hope of someday using them for oils and vinegars. Every once in a while I open up my cupboard, to an avalanche of plastic, jars, mason jars all trying to come out, screaming “use me!!!!”
    Yep, you nailed it totally to a tee. I can totally see where you are coming from. I love the bonne maman jars, but here in QC they have the metal lids. How I wish they had those cool rubber ones like in Paris.

  • I heart Weck jars. Thanks for sweet post!

  • Oh my gosh!! A kindred spirit! I can’t believe you save ziplock bags too! I thought it was only my family that did that. We also re-use starbucks cups too.. haha one of my friends gave me a really weird look when I tried to give her some water in one of those.

  • I like to keep jars too, but other than my jam jars that I recycle for more jam, it tends to be only the pretty ones.

    I like the round jar you have there, and as a recycler I should like the little tops set you found, but dear me, they are so ugly! No offence meant here!! Beautiful or useful the saying goes, but I like beautiful and useful, not that I’m fussy or anything – well I might be :)

    Is Maille mustard actually sold in those glasses, or is that a spoof? I like the wine one, could see jam or maralade in that.

    You will have to share a jam recipe or two with us here, pretty please?

  • Holy cow! I never knew Georg Jensen had a sale page! You may have ruined my life.

  • kelly> the mustard is really sold in those glasses. They have several collections, from decorated glasses for children to classy wine glasses. But if you want to have the 6 or 12 identical mustard glasses, you need to eat a lot of mustard very quickly, because the collections changes once or twice a year. for those wine glasses, they made something very clever : only the color of the central part of the “stand” (le pied ?) changed over the years. A friend of mine has the complete collection, each glass with a different coloured stand : she bought them au fur et à mesure :) !

  • It’s a little sad that I’ll buy products not only on the shape of their jars, but also give them extra points if the lid isn’t ugly or printed upon.

    I use jars for homemade yogurt, storage, and even to pack my lunch for work, so the more jars the better.

    I’d never thought of tracking down jar lids other than mason jar lids, so thanks for this!

  • hmm, to be precise about my previous comment : the wine glasses collection I talked about was from Amora, not Maille. Maille is somewhat more traditional, but in fact almost all the brands of mustard, even the cheaper ones, offer to buy their products in re-usable glasses, with different styles depending of the brand image. I don’t know how this tradition started though…

  • I feel much happier after reading your post – my accumulated jars have new status – they are no longer ‘junk’ and in line to be tossed. I shall continue to hoard them with fervour….xv

  • I am so thrilled with this post as it is clear that I am NOT THE ONLY ONE! Wow! This is such a revelation. I really did think I was the only one who washed her Ziploc (do I need to put a “TM” here?! LOL) bags and saved jars as if they were going to soon be extinct. It is such a relief to read this post and see these comments. I’ve had people make fun of me for saving all my jars. Now I know I am one of the “cool kids.” :D

    (Either that, or we’re all real geeks, huh. Heh.)

    Those jar tops are too cool. What will they think of next?

    I have been going through a jar of Maille (the whisky glass kind) about once every two to three weeks of late. I now have a set of six, soon-to-be-seven. If I ever have to move from Paris back to the States, I *WILL* find a way to take them with me. Those Maille drinking glasses are great. I’m having some hibiscus iced tea in one right now. :)

  • You’re talking to the woman who buys frozen raspberries and strawberries to make jam out of! I save Bonne Maman jars as they have such useful lids; other jars don’t,and unless you know which lid goes with which jar, there’s nothing to put on the top once the cellophane top has been used.

    I absolutely adore your collection of lids! I don’t think I’d have been able to resist them, either. What a fantastic idea.

  • P,S, In reply to your comment – Lidl do (in France as well as in the UK) wonderful 1kg pots of natural yoghurt, which is delicious, but the point is that the containers are beautifully re-usable, for ice-cream or whatever.

    (Lidl in France does an eminently drinkable Cotes du Roussillon, very cheap, but do they sell it over here? Do they…..!)

  • After seeing the picture of your jar collection, I don’t feel so badly about mine. Thanks.

  • David – If you can’t get a hold of goo gone, try petrol or lighter fluid – it works just the same, sometimes better! Just rub it on with a clean towel then wash with warm, soapy water and ta-da! no more sticky glue!!!

  • Sue, to print David’s recipes from the blog, I just highlight the parts I want, copy them (Control-C on a PC, Command-C on a Mac) and paste the bits into a Word file, then print from there. You can right-click to copy the images and paste them in as well.

  • Your marvelous post only served to reaffirm my conviction that no obsession is unique. Just as cats and dogs have certain distinctive traits they share among themselves, so, too, do we homo sapiens. I heart some of my “free” acquisitions so much that after using them for candles and arrangements at my daughter’s wedding this month, I carefully cleaned them out and restored them to their proper shelves. (Trust me, it would have been soooo much easier to trash them.) And I simply must get a set of those jar lids to enliven the lives of my jars!

  • Yep, tons and tons of jars and plastic containers here, too. In the kitchen. In the basement. In the shed.

    A question: how long does your jam/jelly keep without being sealed (and does it then have to be refrigerated)? I’m so used to actually canning mine, but if it would last a decent enough time without the bath, I’d be happy to skip the extra step – and the mason jars!

  • Thanks so much for a fun read, David! Very funny and thoroughly enjoyable. Right now I have a large flat of strawberries in my kitchen, which will turned into jam within the next few hours. And I agree, there is nothing like Goo Gone for taking off that impossible sticky stuff from labels! Not to make you jealous or anything, but I have a large bottle of it my cupboard…

  • Second for the lighter fluid (naptha) for labels. It won’t melt plastic so you can use it on that too, but if I have a glass with a label I always use plain old nail polish remover (acetone.) Never used Goo Gone before and might just have to try it. I think many sympathize to your jar hoarding!

  • french people use “l’eau écarlate” instead of goo gone, but the first price harsh hairspray found in the supermarket works really well too.

  • David – You have clearly struck a nerve…or many nerves about Jar Guilt. I suffer, but am overcoming this by making more marmalade, confit d’oignons, etc. The French organic crème fraïche jars have a tight-seal black lid that makes them so versatile. But this post made me laugh so hard I nearly fell off my Ikea chair! Good luck on your cutlery quest. I’m on the trail of some classic Tapio Virkkala spoons (with black handles)… sigh. Thanks for the tip – will stop at your corner store next time I’m in Paris. Meanwhile, maybe The Jar Store is a business idea….? This clearly goes into specialties beyond a collectibles/vide grenier opportunity.

  • I have not seen those jar tops here yet. Great idea though as I also have a collection of jars.

  • Oh yes…so true. Honestly I always thought that it was a hereditary trait passed on from my mother. It got really serious during the years when I worked in a commercial kitchen. I couldn’t let one Nasoya Nayonnaise jar go homeless… they were absolutely perfect for storing bulk items in the pantry! There must be a 12 step program ….

  • Our everyday wine glasses were mole’ jars in a previous life – they’re patterned, much nicer than Fred and Wilma (though I’m somewhat partial to them too). I reuse plastic bags too, but the newer ones seem to have a finite life. They break down into little pieces after about 2-3 years. I tell ya, what happened to quality trash?

  • David! The hairdryer instantly removes labels. I loved your story today, and sympathize with the jar situation. It is wonderful that you found jars in your collection to fit every single one of the designer lids. What are you going to put in the sprinkling jar?

  • We’re not supposed to, but in my apartment building, people have been leaving out their unwanted items on the small shelf in the lobby of each floor. Just the other day, someone left 4 quart-sized Ball mason jars. I quickly scooped them up and cursed whoever may have been there before me (if there were more).

    I don’t have a jar obsession, but I do save only the wide-mouthed jars. But thanks to your readers who suggested using the jars for things other than food (buttons for my new sewing hobby), I think I may find myself reconsidering what I recycle.

  • No one has yet mentioned the Monty Python classic *Storage Jars*? :D

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbFG3U4iOao

  • I love that you have a jar collection! My partner keeps throwing mine out.

    In Australia, we like to use vegemite jars as glasses. They’ve since changed the style of small jar and now they are unusable as a drinking glass. The jam jars are still fine though!

  • I have had fantastic luck getting sticky off things by using plain old creamy peanut butter. Very oily, slightly abrasive. Wonderful.

  • Wow so many ways to remove the glue residue from labels. I use eucalyptas oil as I love the smell while I’m rubbing away.

  • How do you get the smell from the food to go away? I find most of the jars I try to save leave a residual stink that has then made other things put in those jars, smell like what the jar was made for. I’m thinking specifically of spaghetti sauce, but perhaps the tomato smell just never goes away?

  • THANK GOD my partner has never met you or you two could open a Jar Museum. The statement, “I never met a jar (or plastic container) I didn’t like” never rang more true. I toss them out when he isn’t looking, but he DOES notice when they are gone. I mean, does one REALLY need 6 mayonnaise jars? Really?!?

  • If I didn’t hoard all those interesting jars where would I put all the jam I make in order to justify keeping the jars?

  • At our house we save tons of jars too! My older sister brought us a jar of Bonne Maman cassis jam along with other incredible goodies from her last trip to France. The macarons make me wish she would study at Sorbonne more often. Haha. If you ever visit Houston, TX, be sure to stop by our Ikea!! I swear you will spend hours going through that treasure maze!

  • Well, at least I have finally found an excuse to keep all those jars, I have friends that make jams, jellies, and great pickles. I, of course, extract a commitment to return the jars filled with delicious treasures…

  • You are all lightweights. I put the “whore” in “hoard!” When I get my hands on jars, plastic bags, and even plastic bags that bread or magazines come in, I will find a use for them. I’ve been trying to abstain from buying things in plastic jars like peanut butter since they will just end up in a landfill somewhere not decomposing. A very small percentage of plastics is actually recycled, and of course plastic bags will end up in the ocean.

  • Wonderful post: whenever I’ve moved, my glass jar collection has been wrapped in my quilting material…and not in my rock collection boxes.

    But I really wanted to comment about those difficult-to-remove labels. As an artist, I have tons of paint thinner (odorless) and turpentine around. Instantly removes the leftover glue, and a quick wash in warm, sudsy water removes any residue from the turps or paint thinner. Works for brushes, too.

    And oh, yes, the jars are used for everything from jams to salad dressing. Who needs plastic? OK, we all do, but not for the wonderful things jars are used for!

    Gwen Meyer

  • This post rings a loud bell! I have a penchant for hanging on to glass jars too. In fact, I have so many similar jars, that all my spices and powders are stored in them on my rack. And I always can find jars for my jams and pickles.

    Yes, labels that do not come off, and that strong sticky glue is a pain, but worth it in the end. :)
    I have even occasionally been known to buy something I don’t want just for the jar it comes in! :D

  • I was so excited to see that you save pretty jars that I threw a large part of a glass of wine down my front. I saw those jar toppers at the MoMA store online. I was very interested but have had to move my box of aesthetically pleasing jars out onto the back patio so I wouldn’t bark my shin or stub a toe every time I needed to use the bath. Too much stuff.
    I’m terrible at making jam but I like to put Tia Georgina’s Scissors Salsa in my jars for gifts.

  • OMG wait till you see my closet and shelves filled with glass containers of all sizes, plastic containers in 3 sizes and thank God, one lid fits all, and shall we discuss bags??????? or not even go there………trust me, you will feel right at home when you enter chez moi!

  • Your post shows (in a nice way) how we are all more alike than different in this crazy world . . . (smile).

    Last summer when I left Paris, I brought home in my suitcase some really cute, small glass yogurt jars that I could not bear to throw away . . . they look like mini milk urns. I also save the creme caramel glass containers, too.

    Thank you for all the links to all these amazing websites as well as for sharing your knowledge with us readers. You’re the best!

  • I never dreamed there were so many people with a container hoarding “affliction” like mine. I frequently share some of my delicious soups with neighbors, but I tell them, “If you want some of the next batch, don’t forget to return my jar.” I was flattered when one neighbor brought back my jar–and several extras!

  • I too have a fantastic jar collection, oh and to get those pesky labels off, I find that a cotton ball and some cheap old nail polish remover works beautifully.

  • I have to agree with CityMinx (hope I remembered that name correctly it’s far back up the list).
    Those jar lids look useful but I’m not so sure they are a real help.
    Have you made much use of them yet?
    I saw them somewhere, MOMA sounds right, and was very tempted.
    I use jars over & over, everyday: leftovers, milk for my cappuccino frother, half a lemon, jam & pickled stuff etc….. But I invariably want a lid that seals well…. Oh! Except when I drink from them.
    I decided against those lids. Please let us know if you find them indispensable.
    Thanks for another fun & involving post.

  • I enjoyed your article. I too find it really hard to let go of glass jars. Eventually, I succumb to the pressure of the rest of the household and throw away the jars then inevitably I find I need exactly the jar that was thrown away! I am going to stand strong from now on.
    On an unrelated note, I bought your book on Amazon and I should be receiving it any day now. When I read the excerpt about you deliberating to go or not downstairs in your pajamas I was hooked! I went to University in Paris and I used to walk my dogs in my PJ’s and the neighbors were scandalized!

  • Wow, I thought you’d somehow gotten in to my basement and taken a photo of my jar box….it looks exactly the same, right down to the division of sweet/savory jars!! I love your posts. Once I moved to Europe (Netherlands) I quickly began saving all types of plastic boxes for giving away extra ice cream — yes, I’ve made many of your recipes from Perfect Scoop. And even though we can now buy Ziplok type bags here (finally !!), I still wash them out and dry them like you do. Hope to make your wonderful almond cake today if the supermarket (now open on Sunday’s–hooray) has the almond paste. This blog is the best.

  • Great post :) I am definitively like you: I save almost all the glass jars, as long as they are not absoluely horrible and not practical at all (although if they’re especially pretty, I can keep them despite the last characteristic). The Maille mustard jar (the little, round one. I haven’t seen bigger jars here) is one of my favorites! I think now it’s filled with whole coriander. I save some plastic containers too.

    I have seen how some of my friends use Nutella empty jars as drink glasses. An taking in account that they have more glasses than I’ll ever have, Nutella should send them a personal card or something as an expression of gratitude.

  • Anna: I’ve tried the nail polisher remover here and it doesn’t work on the super-stubborn ones. At least as well as Goof Off does. I may have to put those ones in the recycling bin, the ones with the errant labels. But maybe not, since I’ll be back in the states for a bit and may stock-up on Goof-off!

    Linda H: I have a friend who, when she gives away jam, says, “If you return the jar, I’ll refill it for you next time I make jam.” Seems like a good arrangement to me!

    Stephanie: You can use bleach or white vinegar to remove most smell. A few, like dill pickles, are tough ones, though.

    janele: In my building, sometimes people will leave jars on top of the glass recycling bin. I’ve been thinking of setting up a webcam in the recycling room of my building so I can get them before anyone else, but I think that may be going a bit overboard : 0

  • I wondered how long it would be before someone mentioned Nutella, didn’t think it would take 84 posts though!
    A huge Thank You to the person who posted the Monty Python link: although Storage Jars had slipped from my mind, the animation had left a mark on me….

  • I’m going to put my hand up here as another member of the jar-hoarding club, it’s a habit I picked up from my late grandmother. I, too live in a tiny flat and sometimes I get tempted to throw the jars away to make space. But they do come in handy- I use them to store spices, herbs, coffee, etc.

    Meanwhile I justify the unused jars by promising myself they’ll be used for jams and homemade sauces. Eventually.

  • In Canada, milk is sold in really sturdy 1-liter plastic bags that are great for re-use as sandwich bags, freezer bags, etc. My Mom saves them for me so after every visit to Canada I come back to Amsterdam with a fresh supply. Depending on how I’ve used them, I wash and reuse them too.

  • Hi there, this is a bit off-topic but I saw your piece on A l’Eoile d’Or and was wondering if you knew La Petite Fabrique near Bastille? It’s my absolute favourite chocolate shop in Paris.

    I tried to buy chocolates there a few years ago and the woman at the counter wouldn’t let me pick out the ones I wanted from the case, which was extremely odd. So I left. I went back a few months later, thinking maybe she was having a bad day or something, but she was even worse and I left again, without buying anything. It’s too bad because the people working on the back look like they’re working hard on their chocolates, and she is so decidedly unpleasant. -dl

  • What a charming post! I am a general hoarder and skip diver. Just yesterday I picked up two vintage blankets someone had left carefully folded by their rubbish area outside their house. I also recently picked up a demi lune table also left outside another house with a label that said Take Me on it. Re jars, my fave jars are the Bonne Maman ones. Love the different coloured lids. I use them for beans, nuts and dried herbs mostly. My dad used to have a jar arrangement in our garage when I was growing up. It had the lids supported on something like a shelf and so you could get to the contents by just unscrewing the jar from the lid. He had stuff like screws and nails in them. Think they were mounted on a pegboard. Re Ziploc bags, I have recently found them in both Sainsbury and Tesco stores in London. They are their own brand. I don’t know how long they have had them as I don’t shop in those stores often.

  • I just finished reading an article about pastry chefs serving desserts in Mason Jars..apparently all the rage….but i have not heard anything about soup :(

  • WD40 for the labels. Then wash well.

  • I share your obsession with jars David, and so glad to see from other comments that I am not the only one. A useful resource for jar covers and pretty preserve labels is the Lakeland mail order company in Engand (http://www.lakeland.co.uk/F/product/10564). I turned some of my French friends onto them and they love them.

    That’s a great find. I like their striped jar covers, which I thought were fabric, but are cellophane. But their other stuff is cool. Thanks! -dl

  • Hey David, I was just browsing that Lakeland site again ‘cos I’m going to buy some labels, but I notice on the same page as the labels (http://www.lakeland.co.uk/F/keyword/labels) there is a product which removes sticky stuff, so I’m now going to get some of that, too. Hope it’s as good as your US goo remover.

  • Firstly, fantastic writing about your little obsession which reminded me of a hoarder in my own life. When my husband and I moved into our old house which had been occupied by the same woman for 55 years, and I began cleaning out the kitchen, I found at least 500 used ziploc bags and used aluminum foil sheets. Most of them were sticky with grease and residue. At first, I felt a little sad — as if, I had intruded upon carefully stored memories of long forgotten vegetables and meats — but, as I kept discovering more and more strewn throughout every drawer in the kitchen, I found my sense of disgust. They all went into the trash.

  • I promise this is my last email on the subject. I always relish a challenge, so I did a little research and have now found – also in the UK – some really cute gingham covers with matching labels (http://www.cookability.biz/cookability-jam-pot-covers-labels-pink-gingham/b_4383.htm).

  • Mille fois merci for this post! And I really appreciate all the comments. Jar collectors unite! I have been accused of being a non-recycler because of my collection. So not true–after all, I cannot keep all jars I come across. I will go over to the MoMA shop asap to get some of those nifty jar tops.

  • Compulsive jar hoarder here! Imagine my delight at a whole post devoted to what I thought was a dark, uncommon habit. Since compulsive hoarding and tiny kitchens don’t mix, I have a 1ftx2ftx2ft cabinet reserved for jars and tubs. When it gets full, the cubby gets purged and containers recycled. Always a sad day for me. On a side note, Zentis preserves come in really pretty jars great for gifting homemade jam. I buy them at Whole Foods, but you can see a picture here: http://www.germandeli.com/zentisapricot.html

  • I am with you on the jar stashing. I have been known to buy things in an attractive jar just to reuse it. And I get eye rolling at work when every Thursday we make an artichoke salad with a giant jar of artichokes and I remind the person making it, if it isn’t me, to not pierce the lid to open it so I can take the jar home for my pantry dry goods. Those jars lids have a notoriously hard seal. (The labels are no picnic either.) My co-workers are starting to catch on that this jar collecting (or hoarding, cough) is a good idea and are waiting until I tire of the artichoke jars and they can take one. As if.
    We can get plastic lids for canning jars so you don’t have to reuse the two part metal ones to reuse the jar.
    Now I really need to order those lids from this post. Thank you.

  • A man after my own jar !