Monday, September 19, 2011

My love affair with glass

Over the past year, the presence of glass jars in my kitchen has steadily increased. I don't collect them as decoration, though the myriad jars filled with sundries adorning my two built-ins certainly form a work of art in my eyes:

It started years ago when my mom gave me four antique hermetically-sealed jars with study metal screw-tops:

I've gotten so many compliments on these jars, and at one point my mom even hinted she might take them back. But they have been in constant use in my kitchen and I won the argument that they are more appreciated in my house; right now they hold almonds, two kinds of wild rice, and Bhutanese red rice, respectively. But otherwise I was still mostly using plastic for storage.

This took a turn last fall thanks to a jamming session with some friends. We made over 100 jars of canned goods, some of which are still waiting to be enjoyed in one of my built-ins. As I emptied these jars I washed them and found they could be filled with all manner of things. I currently have the following stored in jars, tucked into cabinets or functionally displayed: Four kinds of rice, quinoa, lentils, popcorn, falafel mix, oats, flour, almonds, pecans, walnuts, sugar, tea, coffee, and possibly something else hidden in the bowels of a high cabinet, waiting for the day when I find it and crack it open, only to find its still-fresh contents ready for use, without any unwanted added chemicals or smells that we can thank plastic for. There's a jar of gazpacho in my fridge that I've been drinking like a savory cocktail, and another one with bacon fat that I use to saute onions and fry eggs. Jarred pesto and two kinds of soup are chilling in my freezer.

This summer I took it to a new level by transporting things out of my house in glass jars. Last week I gave my boss a jar filled with pumpkin soup - a much nicer presentation than a plastic container. I frequently show up to events with giant Mason jars filled with iced tea, homemade lemonade, or in the case of the white-and-pink picnic I attended with Amber, two icy Pimm's Cups:

There's something undeniably sexy about glass: it's functional art, sturdy yet elegant. And it doesn't make your food smell, retain food smells, or off-gas chemicals like plastic does. Plus, lids are universal - gone are the days of searching for the one lid that fits a tupperware, thanks to one of two sizes fitting any jar in my kitchen. Glass can be reused over and over again, and a good jar is nearly indestructible: I can't tell you how many times I've dropped one and jumped back, expecting to feel the shatter of glass shards against my bare feet only to smile gratefully as it recovers from the resounding THWACK in a resting position on its side, perfectly intact.

This is a love affair for the ages.

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