Les 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.


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

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

Never miss a post!


  • June 26, 2010 7:28am

    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!

  • June
    June 26, 2010 7:33am

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

  • June 26, 2010 7:35am

    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!

  • June 26, 2010 7:37am

    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…

  • June 26, 2010 7:46am

    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.

  • June 26, 2010 7:47am

    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…

  • June 26, 2010 7:51am

    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!

  • June 26, 2010 7:54am

    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.

  • June 26, 2010 8:08am

    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!

  • ellen
    June 26, 2010 8:12am

    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?

  • June 26, 2010 8:27am

    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.

  • Lewyintheuk
    June 26, 2010 8:29am

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

  • Arianne
    June 26, 2010 8:38am

    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?

  • June 26, 2010 8:52am

    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!

  • Sue Sartini
    June 26, 2010 9:02am

    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

  • June 26, 2010 9:08am

    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.

  • CityMinx
    June 26, 2010 9:14am

    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? ;)

  • Laura Aziz
    June 26, 2010 9:27am

    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!

  • anna
    June 26, 2010 9:32am

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

  • Jen
    June 26, 2010 9:41am

    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

  • June 26, 2010 9:47am

    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!

  • June 26, 2010 9:57am

    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.

  • Aliza
    June 26, 2010 10:08am

    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.

  • June 26, 2010 10:12am

    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 !)

  • Brittany
    June 26, 2010 10:15am

    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!

  • Amy W
    June 26, 2010 10:39am

    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

  • June 26, 2010 10:40am

    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…

  • June 26, 2010 10:43am

    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. :)

  • June 26, 2010 10:46am

    I don’t know what the shipping would be, but here’s two right-handed Arne Jacobsen boullion spoons for $45.

    And here’s a left-handed one for $24 to an EEC shipping address with Danish sales tax included.

  • Jean Marie
    June 26, 2010 10:52am

    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.

  • honeybee
    June 26, 2010 10:53am

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

  • June 26, 2010 11:01am

    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.

  • June 26, 2010 11:07am

    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 ; )

  • JK
    June 26, 2010 11:13am


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

  • soozzie
    June 26, 2010 11:25am

    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.

  • tracy
    June 26, 2010 11:42am

    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 …


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

  • June 26, 2010 11:48am

    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.

  • June 26, 2010 12:03pm

    I heart Weck jars. Thanks for sweet post!

  • June 26, 2010 12:04pm

    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.

  • June 26, 2010 12:28pm

    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?

  • Lynn in Tucson
    June 26, 2010 12:41pm

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

  • June 26, 2010 12:47pm

    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 :) !

  • June 26, 2010 12:50pm

    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!

  • June 26, 2010 12:51pm

    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…

  • June 26, 2010 12:55pm

    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

  • June 26, 2010 1:04pm

    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. :)

  • Mrs Redboots
    June 26, 2010 1:07pm

    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.

  • Mrs Redboots
    June 26, 2010 1:11pm

    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…..!)

  • starman1695
    June 26, 2010 1:21pm

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

  • June 26, 2010 1:41pm

    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!!!

  • Barbara Young
    June 26, 2010 1:49pm

    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.

  • Victoria Lane
    June 26, 2010 2:19pm

    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!

  • June 26, 2010 2:48pm

    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!

  • Catherine Negus
    June 26, 2010 3:22pm

    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…

  • June 26, 2010 4:04pm

    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!

  • June 26, 2010 4:19pm

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

  • June 26, 2010 4:21pm

    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.

  • June 26, 2010 4:42pm

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

  • June 26, 2010 4:56pm

    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 ….

  • naomi
    June 26, 2010 5:19pm

    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?

  • June 26, 2010 5:26pm

    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?

  • janele
    June 26, 2010 5:45pm

    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.

  • TLF
    June 26, 2010 6:09pm

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


  • Eleanor
    June 26, 2010 6:32pm

    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!

  • June 26, 2010 6:59pm

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

  • JenR
    June 26, 2010 8:40pm

    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.

  • Stephanie
    June 26, 2010 9:54pm

    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?

  • Tom Luhnow
    June 26, 2010 10:36pm

    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?!?

  • Linda H
    June 26, 2010 10:50pm

    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?

  • Anna My-Last-Name-Is-Too-Hard-To-Pronounce
    June 26, 2010 10:57pm

    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!

  • christina
    June 26, 2010 11:08pm

    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…

  • June 26, 2010 11:14pm

    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.

  • June 26, 2010 11:20pm

    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

  • June 26, 2010 11:31pm

    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

  • Julie
    June 26, 2010 11:32pm

    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.

  • Jane Ridolfi
    June 26, 2010 11:45pm

    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!

  • Wendy
    June 27, 2010 12:05am

    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!

  • Jayni
    June 27, 2010 1:12am

    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!

  • June 27, 2010 1:59am

    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.

  • maureen
    June 27, 2010 2:05am

    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.

  • June 27, 2010 3:07am

    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!

  • Debbie
    June 27, 2010 4:36am

    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.

  • Ksenia
    June 27, 2010 5:14am

    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.

  • June 27, 2010 5:46am

    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

  • Lynda
    June 27, 2010 6:09am

    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….

  • June 27, 2010 6:26am

    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.

  • Barbara
    June 27, 2010 6:41am

    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.

  • June 27, 2010 7:01am

    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

  • Cate
    June 27, 2010 7:33am

    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.

  • June 27, 2010 7:42am

    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 :(

  • rfrancis
    June 27, 2010 8:43am

    WD40 for the labels. Then wash well.

  • Patricia Carr
    June 27, 2010 8:47am

    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

  • Patricia Carr
    June 27, 2010 9:36am

    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.

  • June 27, 2010 9:52am

    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.

  • Patricia Carr
    June 27, 2010 9:53am

    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).

  • Rena
    June 27, 2010 9:59am

    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.

  • Songbird
    June 27, 2010 10:08am

    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

  • June 27, 2010 10:10am

    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.

  • June 27, 2010 10:13am

    A man after my own jar !

  • Vicki B
    June 27, 2010 10:23am

    You have successfully made it chic to be a compulsive jar collector! I can’t stand to toss a glass jar into the recycle. What I really covet is some of these http://www.weckcanning.com/

  • Susan
    June 27, 2010 10:42am

    I am also a jar hoarder, however, my very favorite storage containers are those working glasses. Crate and Barrel also sells the lids separately, so I’m able to get the glasses at the thrift store when I come across them..which is fairly often. ( I don’t understand why anyone would discard them.) Like you, I still need the jars for sharing the jams that I make with in season fruit and ice cream sauces, too. This sounds a little nuts, but I have a couple of people save their jar lids for me. I find that jar lids get a little scraped up and rusty looking around the edges after a lot of use and I get leary of them, so the lid hoarding keeps the jars in service. I save the plastic bread bags that I occasionally get, and the shower caps from hotels for use as bowl covers. Can’t have enough of those!

  • June 27, 2010 11:13am

    Back when I was young, it was “in” to use the small Nescafe Instant Coffee jars for drinking. Yes, we use instant coffee over this part of the world. Today, some people still do, only the glass styles are different..

    I too hoard these recyclables, from olives to peanut butter and to tostitos dip jars. I love them all. I also recycle, styropore supermarket packagings. I just keep them around, just in case. Other things I recycle are aluminum foils, just wash and dry and keep. I do the same to Zip locks.

    But I am surprised you do. I didn’t expect that a man as sophisticated and ‘bon vivant’ as yourself recycle.

    Cheers to all of us!

  • Sophia
    June 27, 2010 11:21am

    I can’t believe the timing of this post. I’ve just spend the last hour searching high and low for the quart size Bormioli jars I bought last year at Container Store in order to store iced coffee concentrate. They are nowhere. Completment disparu. With my canning jar lifters that I needed yesterday when I turned my just-picked strawberries into la confiture.

    Iced Coffee

    Time: 5 minutes, plus 12 hours’ resting

    1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)

    1. In a jar, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours.
    2. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.
    Yield: Two drinks.

  • June 27, 2010 12:20pm

    To Remove Stickiness from Old Labels


    To remove the stickiness from long gone labels, smear the spot generously with vegetable oil and leave on over night. The next morning it should scrub off. Some persistent glues need a second oiling. This always works.

    You’re not a glass jar hoarder, you are a recycler magnifique!


  • Shirley in Berkeley
    June 27, 2010 12:52pm

    Holy moly!! For I second I thought a picture of the jars collection in the bottom of our pantry had somehow gotten into your website — looks like it, even to the Bonne Maman jam jar lid!! We eat a lot of tomatoes in bottles (okay, it’s Organic Classico Pasta Sauce) and cannot bear to throw away the Atlas Mason jars it comes it, so I freecycle them when there’s an embarrassing build-up. We also save all plastic and paper bags, and when they threaten to take over, we take them to our local thrift store. BUT be sure to take a look at bags before you just pass them on. I have found important items that fell off a shelf into a bag (how about that Georg Jensen bouillon spoon?) and EGAD, my husband’s wedding ring was found at last in a plastic bag that must have held wet lettuce! Home is okay, but I DO miss Paris! Thanks for your blog, David!

  • Shirley in Berkeley
    June 27, 2010 1:27pm

    A note about jars odors — the smell usually resides in the lid, not the glass. If you can’t get it out and it’s too gross to ignore (new contents will supplant the old aroma of pickles), just replace the lid and KEEP the precious jar!

  • June 27, 2010 3:49pm

    I have been obsessively collecting all sorts of jars, including any lost soul on kijiji or freecycle who dares give up their own (what are they thinking?!). My husband raises an eyebrow and begins to grumble until I point at the jam in the fridge or the fact that we no longer purchase ‘drinking glasses’. I even have my mother on the hunt for jars for me … to be fair, she’s paid in jam and various marmalades. I’m a little too freaked out by germs to wash out plastic bags so I try to limit their use (what else am I supposed to do with a million jars). I fully approve of jar hoarding!

  • Eileen
    June 27, 2010 6:28pm

    the ziplock bag will dry better and faster if you hang it in the opposite direction.

  • June 27, 2010 9:50pm

    I LOVE this post. I, too, have a similar obsession. I just cannot throw out or even recycle glass jars… they are too useful! When my husbands grandmother passed, I found out that she had the same obsession with glass jars. So on top of my glass jar over-flowing pantry (something I once thought I would use only for food), I have boxes and boxes of glass jars in my attic… which by the way I got some really cool old ones such as GLASS!! Skippy and Peter Pan Peanut Butter jars, Tang and my favorite Ball blue jars.

    I use them for everything…. besides when I make my years supply of local strawberry jam… I use them for storing leftovers, gifts of herbs dug up from my garden, seashells, sea-glass, baked gifts, granola, pasta, grains, bulk coffee and teas… LOVE glass jars :)

    Oh, yes… and I wash out my baggies/ziplocks (in fact I don’t buy them… only reuse what others give me) and I do the same with the plastic wrap. ;)

    Now only if I lived in Paris…

    Off to dream :D

  • Margaret Pilgrim
    June 27, 2010 10:02pm

    Hmmm. I have forced my husband to eat yogurt at every breakfast in France in order to acquire the maximum number of those sweet little jars with the snap-on lids so useful for…????. We also have finally assembled with greater difficulty a set of 8 of the smaller Maille mustard glasses, which, damn!, they have discontinued. It is this short style-life of bottles and jars that makes us such compulsive collectors.

  • Sara
    June 27, 2010 10:21pm

    Many a Texas Southern style restaurant use Mason Jars to serve iced tea.

    My Granny Melba was a great jar collector, and to my husband’s dismay, I have a great collection. My faves are Polar Jam ( mini urn), Pomm Iced tea ( straight, tall glass that is great for making salad dressing- the lid pops back on well), and Inglehoffer Mustards ( short squatty and great for spices).

    Love your blog.

  • Sheila
    June 27, 2010 11:10pm

    Hi, labels will come off jars easily if you use eucalyptus oil or tea tree oil.

  • June 28, 2010 1:51am

    It’s so funny you mentioned Cornershop this week! I was just there for a Designer Days event as they carry our glass baby bottles and water bottles. The store is just around the corner from our apartment so when I am in Paris, I too love to go there to “window lick”. The owners, Bridget and her partner are very nice. If you like to drink out of glass (but not necessarily jars), ask them to show you the new glass and silicone covered water bottles and tell them I am a fan of yours!

  • lee
    June 28, 2010 5:25am

    I remember years back there was a news story talking about how people were getting sick because of the printing on bread sacks, which were being reused by many for lunch sacks. The newscaster seemed to think reuse was a bit bizarre; how times have changed!

    I switched brands of jam to a cheaper brand with fewer ingredients (and it tastes better) than the one my mother buys and the jars it has have handles. I found they are so very useful. I have pierced a few of the lids with an awl and hammered the undersides flat so I have shaker lids. the handle helps when my hands are slippery and I find them very useful for sprinkling. I have made them with different sized holes for different mixtures.

    The other use for those jars is for when I buy spices from the Indian store. My other spice jars were much too small. Fortunately I am going through the spices at a good clip so they are not going stale, which I feared when I bought them.

    I made my grandmother a little stand out of pretty scrap wood for drying her plastic bags. It seemed to work well, and it is decorative.

  • June 28, 2010 6:33am

    Hmmm. I thought this was an article about male geese — that’s the definition of jars, in French. ; )

  • Toni
    June 28, 2010 6:38am

    David, I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned this yet, but I’ve found the best way to get rid of the sticky residue left on jars is by using nail polish remover. I’m sure most sorts of alcohol-based products could do the trick!

  • lee
    June 28, 2010 7:29am

    Citrus solvent, not those citrus cleaners, but 100% Orange Oil which I get for wood working, does nicely one some of those residues. I also have a bottle of very cheap vodka which works well on others.

  • June 28, 2010 7:55am

    Hej David!

    Now that I read your post I am obsessing over the Luminarc Working Glasses with lids. The Amazon seller doesn’t ship to Sweden and I can’t find a retailer in Europe.

    Any ideas?

  • ashley stone
    June 28, 2010 8:31am

    i love the gingham on the bonne maman jars too! though i also adore the heleos brand jam jars. the tops of the jars have cute pictures of the fruit flavor that’s inside. is there not recycling in paris?

  • June 28, 2010 11:39am

    I’m guessing, given the number of fellow jar-hoarders here, that I’m not the only person who has been known to buy something for the jar rather than for the product inside! The positive side is that I can sometimes justify purchasing a “designer” jar of jam if I count the jar as part of the cost!

    My jams and empty jars have recently been relegated to our spare bedroom for storage, as we simply don’t have enough room in the kitchen to keep them all.

    I wish I could find Maille mustard here in L.A. for a reasonable price. They had it at Surfas for a while, but then they moved to a giant (as in, 2 or 3 L) jar of it for $40 or so… no more Maille for me!

  • Jeff H (Los Angeles)
    June 28, 2010 12:35pm

    Ah! My kindred souls! Not just jar hoarders, but plastic bag reusers! I don’t think about it anymore, but this post made me realize I haven’t bought plastic bags in probably 6 years. My partner hated it initially, but could never counter my argument that the bags were still good, especially after I’d washed them and he couldn’t tell the difference between a new bag and an old bag. Same with the jars, but with five fruit trees, I’m always in need of empty ones, and canning jars can get expensive. The lime tree alone last year gave us 14 jars of marmalade, not counting the lime curds and tarts and limeade. And the juice stored in the freezer in — you guessed it — recycled freezer bags.

  • June 28, 2010 12:35pm

    ashley: There’s recycling (except for plastic bags) but I’m doing my own bit of recycling. Right here at home!

    margie: Try Amora brand. It’s another commonly-found French mustard that is pretty popular in France.

    Mother Sweden: Check at the end of the post for tips on ‘How to find things mentioned on the website’.

    Pam: Interestingly, I walked by there last Sunday when they were closed. But they had my flatware in the window..for €69 for a set of 5. And they had bouillon spoons, too!

    Sophia: I tried making that cold-brewed coffee once and mine didn’t turn out. Which is probably a good thing since if it did, I’d be drinking coffee all day long during the sweltering Paris summer. And staring at the ceiling above my bed all night, wide awake!

  • June 28, 2010 1:53pm

    Thank you, David!

    That list is a shopper’s Paradise!

    (Uh, oh…)

  • caroline
    June 28, 2010 2:05pm

    I wish I could hoard jars! It seems the only jarred things I ever buy are pickled, and it is just too difficult to get that smell out. I’ve ruined a few things by storing them in former pickle jars that I thought were completely deodorized.

  • Dean E.
    June 28, 2010 3:29pm

    Thank you for making me feel less strange for keeping bottles. I have tons of dry goods stored in what were originally Bonne Maman jars. Not only are they a convenient size and quite durable, but the lid is attractively appropriate as well. I also keep nicely colored small sake bottles around to re-use for herb infused oils and vinegars. Glass is the greatest!

  • Martha in KS
    June 28, 2010 5:22pm

    I spotted the Bonne Maman jar right off. I use WD-40 to remove gooey labels. Odiferous, but it works! As for removing lids, think RIGHTY TIGHTY, LEFTY LOOSEY. Works everytime.

  • June 28, 2010 6:33pm

    although I buy fromage blanc in 500ml plastic containers, which are the perfect size for giving away a half-batch of ice cream!

    Ditto–when I started making frozen yogurt, I only had one tupperware big enough to hold it. Over the past year, though, I’ve started accumulating empty 1 QT yogurt containers, and it’s a perfect set up: buy 1 QT yogurt in plastic tub; turn yogurt into frozen yogurt; put frozen yogurt back in original yogurt tub!

  • June 28, 2010 6:34pm

    P.S. Before I visit Paris, I’ll have to measure the mouths on the jam/canning jars whose tops have gone missing, so I can get nifty Parisian replacement tops!

  • Lisa W.
    June 28, 2010 6:36pm

    I love Le Parfait jars. And, yes, I buy French jams and things I don’t ever use, like lemon curd, and blood orange jam, just for the jars! I also love Lorina French soda bottles. Tres formidable!

  • June 28, 2010 6:48pm

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one with the jar obsession, which I inherited from my grandmother. Who still will make vats of soup and transfer them into huge pickle jars and give to my mother and neighbors. But to make it even MORE ridiculous, she keeps track of each jar and if you don’t return one, she’ll remind you.

  • Tammy B.
    June 28, 2010 9:00pm

    I am so relieved that I am not alone. If there is a 12-step program, I’m probably not going to attend. : ) And I agree 100% about the label issue. When I label my home made stuff, I use plain old glue stick. The labels just slip right off in water. No hassle to clean off. Okay, so I must confess that I bought a case of pesto for not only the pesto but, the jars as well. The company was going to a different jar and I knew about it in advance. To me, when buying something in a jar you will reuse is a two-buys-in-one deal.

  • sara
    June 28, 2010 10:43pm

    I save a lot of jars! With summer here and three children home all day…we painted our glass jars with glass paint and made them into lanterns. Hmmmm…maybe I should have saved them for that 40 lbs of strawberries we picked!

  • Tonya
    June 29, 2010 12:33am

    With all this talk of hoarding of jar, I think I might join the band wagon. Next time I go to town I am going to look for interesting jars on the shelves. I do have a collection of glass bottles, so when I go to town I can take my own spring water with me in them instead of the plastic ones. Love your post, those mustard jars are beautiful. I wish they sold mustard like that here in the states.

  • June 29, 2010 1:33am

    It is funny that this post was staring up at my from my dashboard. I just finish sterilizing and storing a vast amount of jars as I have been on a jam, jelly and preserve marathon. I am in the process of hunting down a goose feather to get started on my Lorraine Jelly with the white currants in my garden!!! Any advice?

  • diana
    June 29, 2010 5:13am

    My mother has a SHED in the garden only for jars and tomato juice tall glasses. And my (very old) father spends his late winter/early spring scratching the goo away; it’s his thing to do.
    I, on the other hand, recycle: Nice, pretty jars, new lids, bonne mamans et comp stay with me, ordinary honey/pickles/peas etc.- to my mother’s. Ain’t I a charm? But I already have 12 jars of strawberry made-by-myself confiture, and plan to make six more this week-end. All in bonne maman jars!

    I enjoy every single post of yours, they are tasty!

  • June 29, 2010 1:53pm

    This post brought back a flood of memories of my grandparents. Holdovers from the Depression pervaded every corner of their home. My grandpa is the only person I ever knew to wash out, hang dry and reuse his Ziploc bags.

    My grandma saved every plastic butter tub and glass jar to reuse–I can’t say that I have ever reused a Ziploc bag but I certainly got the jar-saving gene (I buy kosher salt by the pound and keep it, ever so appropriately, in an empty pickle jar). She had a few of those confiture jars you linked as “French working jars” (I’ve never heard them called that) that she saved throughout the years (mainly to store leftovers) and they’re actually some of our treasured family heirlooms (and still used for leftovers).

    While it would not occur to me to use them for drinking, I will confess to savoring a cold glass of milk out of a mason jar now and then. I think that’s mainly because I have more of them than I do of drinking glasses especially at the beginning of the year before canning starts again in earnest. :)

  • Michael
    June 30, 2010 2:32am

    Hi David,

    Great post, but I have a warning for you. While the glass jars are not a problem, there are dangers in reusing the plastic materials. Over time, plastics break down and can leach hazardous chemicals into your food or personal environment. Plastics are simply fossil fuels that have been processed. Many things like plastic bags, bottles, etc…are not designed to be used repeatedly, and subjecting them to things like heat simply makes the risk worse.

    Read a book like Cradle to Cradle which talks about this kind of stuff and how most of society doesn’t understand the risks. Of course, it may not be necessarily better to throw them into the environment (I use my plastic bags as trash bags so I never have to buy them), but just be careful in terms of contact with food, drink, etc…

  • June 30, 2010 7:08am

    Hi Michael: Yes, I’ve been reading a lot of the warnings about plastic, and have stopped using plastic water bottles as much as possible (they’re an unfortunate necessity when traveling). I do like glass, and other materials, and use them as much as possible.

    One thing I do…and recommend to others who wish to lead a healthier lifestyle…is to walk everywhere, as much as possible. Not only does it cut down on all the fumes in the air produced by driving (and all the other problems associated with petrolium production), but it’s a good way to stay in shape.

    For me, plastic garbage bags are an unfortunate necessity. The regular shopping bags here are a bit weak and I tried buying the ‘green’ ones, which broke and leaked, prompting me to double up on the bags. So I’ve reluctantly gone back to the thicker ones. I’m still waiting for the city to start a home composting program, too!

  • June 30, 2010 12:12pm

    Expandable kitchen drawers to the rescue!

    I could not help but take pictures when my lunch today was served in canning jars, at least half a dozen! Only dessert and coffee were served on ye olde plate and cup. ;-)

  • June 30, 2010 1:52pm

    Too funny David!
    Yesterday at the NY Fancy Food Show I was given a jar of Braswell’s Select Strawberry preserve and I noticed this morning as I was opening it, it says on the label,
    ‘Preserved in European Drinkware’
    ! ! !
    What goes around comes around it seems..

  • Geraldine Toltschin
    June 30, 2010 6:00pm

    Hi David,
    I’m always astonished with how truly entertaining your posts are! And JARS….well, perhaps I should go shoot a photo of the Garage, or do some explaining!

    Since I’ve CLOSED my little bake shop (insert tear here), I have time to read in depth your posts, something to be said for not working 18 hours a day,. After reading each and EVERY reply to your post on jars, alas, NO ONE said what I have been doing for years. With some of the jar lids I make kids baker’s clay molded to the top, remember I’m a baker. Anyway it’s simple, fun and very entertaining for kids. I do not put color in the clay, simply paint the finished shape with mily to color it naturally and bake away.

    Since the Jerez airport is only a jump away from my house, hopefully next year I’ll spend a lot of time in your marvy city! Thanks for all your Paris informatioin it is truly fantastic.

  • June 30, 2010 6:05pm

    you had me lough out loud, “European Drinkware”! :-)
    At our house, we are using Nutella jars as drinking glasses (they don’t come with a screw-on metal top but a plastic one). They seem to last forever! ;-)

  • July 1, 2010 3:22am

    Merisi> french people think it too (that those glasses last forever).We have a jaded/amused saying with shrugged shoulders for the moment someone drops one of the sturdy glasses on the floor and it finally breaks : é=”bah… c’est comme ça que ça s’use !”, “well… that’s how it wears !” :D

  • July 1, 2010 6:13am

    thank you for that information,
    made me laugh out loud! *giggles*

  • July 1, 2010 7:43am

    David, I recently began reading your blog, having moved to France (Touraine) this time last year. When I saw the post on glass jars, I immediately shared it with a friend who, just days before, said in disgust, “What on earth are you going to do with all these glass jars? They’re just taking up space” USE THEM! I love them, particularly the wide-mouthed jars. I just returned from Italy with large bags of spices like oregano which require larger jars. I’m a great one for making up spice rubs, too, which need containers.

    Oh, want a solution to your adhesive removal? Try non-acetone nail polish remover. Works like a charm–fast and not messy and doesn’t damage glass the way it would plastics. I just used it last night on four creme fraiche jars.

    And one other thought, based on your photograph–try hanging your precious Zip-locs upside down to drain. They’ll dry faster. (And if you know anyone in Austria, they sell the ones with the zipper slide, not just the plastic zipper there. I have a friend who brings me them from Vienna.)

    Thanks for a great blog!

  • Mumsabai
    July 1, 2010 11:24am

    Oh Merci David de partager cette petite obsession avec nous.
    Je vais courrir rue Saint Paul ce WE pour acheter des nouveaux capuchons pour donner une nouvelle vie à mes bocaux !

  • Laura
    July 4, 2010 5:23pm

    I buy that exact same jam with the gingham lid. I recognize the label on the not-peeled one. While the jam is very good and inexpensive (my hubby eats the cherry preserves by the spoonful!), I partially buy it just for the jars so that I have a lovely row of matching jars holding little crafting doo-dads in my craft storage.

  • July 5, 2010 12:57pm

    Hi, I am one of your fans, and glad to know a prominent chef like you also collect jars! I am obsessed with them too. Here is my finding, and hope you would enjoy. Use any oil such as cooking vegitable oils to scrab the sticky grew. It works like magic for almost any kind!! :)

  • We obsessively recycle jars, but always buy new lids. We find the lid seems to harbour most of the aroma from previous fillings, so a new lid allows us to reuse the lime pickle jar for a cherry jam. I also like buying the lids with pop tops that suck in when we hot water process the jars. Sometimes they seal on so tightly that we literally have to break into the jam with a can opener – at least we’re sure nothing is getting in!

    Those Maille mustard jars look divine – we get Maille here, but in nothing so fancy. I think the one in my fridge is a squeezy bottle. And you’re right about jam making – it’s a disease. We make massively more than we could possibly eat – then try and give it away!