A pictorial ramble through my jars

by - March 13, 2017

Over the years I have learned to love jars. I'm not just talking about the pristine goodness of a new box of Fowlers or Mason jars arriving in the mail but also recycled jars of all shapes and sizes. I love bottles too. I'm probably preaching to the choir here because I think many of us have discovered how thrifty, practical and convenient recycled jars and bottles can be in our simple kitchens and laundries.  But instead of writing about the benefits of recycling and building up a treasure trove of jars and bottles, why don't i just show you some photos from past years, as well as some new photos, showing what I'm doing with these glass containers that just keep on giving.

These wide-mouth, red check jars are my favourite recycled jar. They last for years of repeated boiling and vinegar liquids, they're easy to wash and they hold a convenient amount - 1 cup, 250mls.
 I store my dry pantry supplies in jars of all sizes. 

And of course, there is all the lemon butter, pickled vegetables, jams and sauces I've made over the years. Some are stored in purchased jars, most are in recycled jars.  As long as the lid and seal are undamaged, they're good to use again.



Don't forget the fresh juices and cordials. Every year we squeeze lemons, oranges and passionfruit from our garden and store a lot of it in the freezer in plastic bottles.  Below is some raspberry cordial I made last year. That went into glass bottles and was stored in the cupboard.


I make a lot of yoghurt and sour cream and that is stored in jars and kept in the fridge.  Above is sour cream, below, yoghurt.

The whey left over from various dairy foods is also stored in a jar and kept in the fridge until I use it in my baking.  
 Chicken stock is stored in litre jars.
Two unusual uses for jars - saving seeds at the end of the growing year. Some seeds are stored in sealed envelopes in the fridge, these seeds were used within a few weeks of being saved so they spent that time in a jar.   Below is sun-infused calendula oil I use to make soap.  It's in an old coffee jar.


Here are my work horse jars. This one above is my liquid soap, my first and only batch. During part of the days-long process of making it, it was stored in this huge jar.
 Many of us use jars to store our sour dough starters. 
 Or fill up jars and bottles with homemade laundry liquid and give it away to friends and neighbours.


They're handy when you need a small container for craft items.
And finally, ginger beer plant fermenting in the kitchen. 

And where do I store all these jars? Well, have a look below. The first two photos are my current stockpile of jars. One is in the main stockpile cupboard, the other in a cupboard above the stove.


 I have egg cartons, Fowlers jars and recycled water bottles out in the garden shed.
Above, this was my old cupboard where my dishwasher now is and below another stash in a kitchen cupboard.

And finally, this shows that even when you're travelling around the country, you can still recycle and bring home treasure.  These are four little jam jars we had on our breakfast trays when we stayed in flash hotels on book tours, with one fruit juice bottle.  The little jars hold 50mls and have been really useful storing spice, ointment and creams.

I'm sure you have your preference just as I have mine. I can't go past a wide mouthed jar with a pop top metal lid. I have two coffee jars with a round glass lid, the rest are all pop tops. They serve me well for preserving jams and sauces as well as storage jars in the pantry and craft room. I'm sure there are people out there as crazy about recycling jars and bottles as I am. What do you use yours for and where do you store them?


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57 comments

  1. I admit, I have a bottle fetish. I've changed all my spices, teas and cooking ingredients over to jars that I've found at the recycled bin at our local co-op. I use jars for my kombucha and I use jars in my art room. I cannot get enough jars!
    And I have a special cupboard where I store them.
    (Rhonda, regarding the forum, are any of the members starting another?)

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  2. Hi Rhonda... GREAT post... I reuse the glass containers also.. much the same way as you do... I save the left over coffee after I have had my fill in the morning... and use it first the next mornings cuppa...My kids think I'm a little wacky... but I learned very early on that waste not is want not...I even use old blue canning jars as votives... encircling a small votive with water filled wine bottles makes also magic... safe and lovely to look at.

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  3. I'm a jar collector too, Rhonda Jean. I've been know to pay extra for something just because it comes in a particularly nice jar. My kids even gave me a box of glass owl-shaped jars for Christmas. My son always points out interesting jars to me when we are grocery shopping. Glad to know that I'm not the only one!

    HUgs
    Jane

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  4. I have only just started collecting jars as I progress with cooking more items from scratch and fermenting. I really like the mason jars and have various sizes. I've also just started collecting jam jars, vegemite etc. to add to my small but progressive stash.

    I like the look of your pantry with all of the jars Rhonda. There is my vision right there to keep collecting - I'll think of your pantry!

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  5. I also love jars. For a very long time I only used the Mason type jars with the two piece lid. Reusing commercial jars was discouraged in North America ( I am beginning to think it was to sell more "canning jars"). I love to use glass jars to keep my dry goods in so the bugs stay out, as well as all my dehydrated veg and fruit. I was wondering though , must you water bath can your pop lid jars to make them seal properly? Thanks so much for the great post.
    Barb

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    1. Heat will create a seal, Barb. If you sterilise your jar and lids and while still hot, add your hot jam or whatever, that will usually create a seal.

      In Australia we follow the British traditions of preserving which don't demand water bathing everything and which use recycled jars and lids. I think you're right though in that discouraging recycling of jars and lids was more for commercial reasons than anything esle.

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  6. Oh, I do love a good jar! Your pantry looks very much like mine, with dry goods safely tucked away in glass.

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  7. LOVE this post as I also love glass jars. One thing I never thought of, and so glad you showed, was using jars for sewing/crafting goods. I have loose stuff in my sewing cabinet drawers and now can organize it into jars. Thank you so much for sharing that, Rhonda. Have a wonderful week!

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    1. I use jars all the time for sewing and crafts. My buttons are stored in a variety of jars, sorted into type: wooden, metal, small ones, larger ones, pearl, white shirt buttons, etc. Also packs of sewing needles can be stored in a jar, easy to spot the packet you want. Beads etc.

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  8. I love to recycle jars too. I use them for herbs and spices, dried goods, soap gel, laundry soap and have used some for jams, thanks to information here. They all sealed perfectly well. I store the empty ones on a shelf in my pantry. As well as the jars, I save any lid that will fit a mason jar. Typically, peanut butter and mayonnaise lids work well for that. I often use these lids on medicinal tinctures that I've got "working", as well as yogurt and kefir jars.

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  9. P.S. I found out from a friend about re-using jar lids a few years ago and have never had one not seal yet, even commercial jars with the rubber seal. I always boil my jar lids in another pot when I am canning.

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  10. I love jars, have since I was a kid and my gram saved those tiny blue Vicks bottles and small aspirin bottles to use to play with my dollies. I have jars from all over the world when I traveled. Some brought home souvenirs, I brought home empty bottles!

    I use them all over the house. I make my own cleaning supplies, cosmetics, and do a lot of crafts, and like you said they make great storage and supply bottles. Mixed paint colors to save, glue that it needing a larger home to fit brushes in to paint the glue on a surface, etc. A larger potbellied bottle that fits a ball of yarn sits in the bottom of my basket with a grommet hole in the top keeps my ball from jumping out of my basket as I pull out more yarn.

    And although I have fallen into the trap of purchasing glass and ceramic food storage containers in the past, I rarely, if ever do that now. Unfortunately in the US it seems that so many manufactures are using plastic instead of glass...and they are all shaped the same too. Half the fun of glass jars is the fun shapes and sizes they used to come in.

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  11. What a marvellous post.. So love my jars and seeing yours was fantastic with all the usefulness you have found for them. The pic with all the homemade soaps was wonderful.. xo

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  12. Whilst our little Granddaughter was here over Christmas her parents, for the sake of convenience bought the little jars of baby food. I have a lovely stock of baby food jars. I use these for my salves and creams as they hold just the right amount. Pop on a nice label and you have a gift ready to go.

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    1. When we were babies, my dad saved the baby food jars and made shelves that housed them in his workshop. All these years later, they are still there, storing various sized screws, washers, nuts and bolts, all individually labeled.

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  13. I, too, have a jar fetish! I especially love some rather large, older peanut butter jars that I think came from our local thrift store. I love small, medium, and large and larger jars!!! Yours with the red and white checked lids I especially love. Thanks for sharing I'm not alone in this collection of jars.

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  14. Rhonda, I loved this post-I feel so much better about my jar stash now! I am enclosing a link to an awesome apron someone made for collecting eggs. Enjoy!
    https://www.littlethings.com/egg-collecting-apron/?utm_source=shft&utm_medium=Facebook

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  15. I like to use jars to store pantry items, like pulses, choc chips etc. Just recently, I was lucky to be given about a dozen large glass coffee jars, the ones with a push on glass lid with a plastic seal. I've washed them all they'll be used in the pantry too. Meg:)

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  16. I love jars, I put everything in them, love your collection. I have a question on the ones with the checkered lids, do those type of lids reseal in a water bath canner? I noticed you used a lot of that type for jams and jellies.My grandson even bought a big reproduction gallon mason jar for Christmas !

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    1. Yes Zee, they seal well both with water bathing and when placing hot jam in hot jars. You have to relegate them to the craft room eventually but I've used the red check jars and lids many times before the seal gives out.

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  17. I love this post Rhonda !I love collecting jars so its nice to see others doing the same ! My husband recently build me shelves in my garage to store all of my jars now I just have to get around to filling them! I like your other ideas for their use not just preserves. I think I'll start replacing plastic storage with beautiful jars! Thank you!Karina

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  18. Looks like you been busy. Can't wait until I retire or cut back so I can get into homesteading projects.
    Coffee is on

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  19. I love jars also. When I moved house I had to place 28 boxes (each holding around 12 jars) in the recycle bin . I had discovered them stashed in a cupboard and had forgotten them. Of course came the time I started preserving again I didn't have sufficient jars.
    Now I have 2 rather large bookshelves full if jars graded by size in my laundry. And who knows how many boxes out in the workshop.
    People from various greeny things I attend save me jars and I can't say no. Although I did place around 50 jars in the recycle bin after our fruit and vegetable swap on Saturday.
    Claire in Melbourne

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  20. I just showed this post to my hubby with "see, it's not just me!". To which he replied, "yes, but look how tidy they are.". Pffft, we are renovating and packing for an interstate move in the not too distant future. The house looks like a bomb site and I am of the opinion that doing house work amid clouds of plaster dust and sawdust is just a waste of time and effort. I figure when the mess is over with is soon enough to get back to it. Meanwhile, I am busy reducing my 'left overs' wool stash by crocheting queen bed size blankets to be used as extra warmth in our new home.

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  21. I was very interested to see you say that it is ok to seal jams etc hot and not have to water bath, also there is a place here in Australia that you can get replacement new lids from extending the life of your jars. I am currently in the process of changing my pantry from plastic to glass storage and loved seeing your example. Glass is just so much better for our health, they have found evidence that plastics interfere with our hormones. thank you again for sharing your wisdom from Judi.

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  22. I love recycling jars and bottles, my parents and granparents before me. Stofe them in a cupboard in my kitchen. Pam in Norway

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  23. About sealing jars, forgot to say that I fill them to the brim with hot jam and then turn them upside dowm until cooled. That helps create a seal. Pam in Norway

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  24. OK - you've found my Achilles heel. I just love jars. I note you rarely label and that you must just recognise the produce - I too do not label much, but have been caught once putting a heaped teaspoon of salt in a visitors cup of tea. Duh.

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  25. Bonjour Rhonda,
    Je suis française et j'adore votre blog.... Vous êtes ma Muse pour le chemin de la simplicité...
    Merci beaucoup pour toutes vos astuces que j'essaie de suivre....
    A quand, s'il vous plaît vos livres en traduction Française....
    Merci, merci, merci pour tout
    Isabelle

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    1. The books won't be translated, Isabelle. There was talk of it at the beginning but not now.

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  26. I too save jars and bottles, for my Sloe Gin etc, it's just the storage. I am aiming to just have enough for what we use but...If I see an interesting shape I can't say no.

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  27. Oh how timely, I'm just in the midst of washing out all my bottles, jars and shelves in preparation for the hoped summer influx of produce. :-) I love the red checked jars too and your collection looks lovely; there's something so lovely recycling beautiful jars so all the effort that's gone into making them can still be enjoyed.

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  28. I save the jars too. And have quite a collection built up like yours. They are very handy.
    Love repurposing them.

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  29. I loved seeing all your jars. I love my jars, too. The smaller the jar the more I love them even though they have few uses. When we are at thrift stores and yard sales I am always on the lookout for a great jar. I am glad to hear that the jars can be resealed. I had often wondered after seeing your posts.

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  30. Hello, Rhonda. My name is Jen, and I am a high school student in Illinois (USA) studying the book "Into the Wild", about a man who lived his life deliberately. I have been very interested in your page for a while now because it seems that you live deliberately just like Chris McCandless from Into the Wild. I just love your recipes and tips for living healthy and free, it is inspiring and helpful. I would really enjoy talking to you through your forum page or email, but it seems that I cannot get into the forum or find an email. Again, it would be wonderful to have a conversation with you, but I would not want to bother you. Thanks, Jen.

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    1. Hi Jen. I know of Chris McCandless because I saw the Into the Wild movie. The forum is closing down in a couple of days so I can move further back into my own life. I'll still be writing my blog and I think I'll have more enthusiasm for being here when the forum goes. I'd like to stay in touch with you through the comments here. That way you'll be involved with the beautiful community of people who comment here. They're a wonderful group that I'm sure you'll learn from. xx

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  31. I want to read this post over and over, because JARS are one of my favorite things ever! I find it very difficult ever to throw out any kind of glass jar so I end up with boxes of them in the garage - but I do sometimes find just what I am looking for if I can locate a box :-) Thank you for a satisfying ramble through jar-history.

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  32. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the repurposed jars you use & reuse. I think many of us on this simple-living journey try to find & use repurposed jars where we can. I even have friends and family save some of the more popular sizes for me since I don't typically purchase the food sold in them. I've never been able to successfully freeze in glass, our freezer is a big chest freezer and one wrong 'clink' would spell disaster. But other than the freezer, all my food is stored in glass - including leftovers stored in my fridge. What a precious resource, there's nothin' like it!

    ~Taylor-Made Homestead~
    Texas

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  33. I've also been using the mason type jars with the two piece lids, for years. I did not know I could re-use the pop-up lids so successfully! This is SO exciting to me because I love any kind of jar as well--- my collection keeps growing and I find it difficult to throw any out. I use them for everything I can think of. Except I've never tried to use them to reseal jars. I was of the same mind-frame that you can't re-use commercial jars for "canning".
    But I find them in thrift shops often and have a hard time passing by them without buying them.:) The past several weeks I have been trying to figure the best place & the best way to store mine. My husband would probably say, "How many jars does a lady need?" :)

    One question though, Rhonda. How do you know if the jar/lid has sealed when you use the commercial ones? Do you hear that familiar (and gratifying :) little popping sound like the 2 piece lids make when they seal? Or can you see that the middle is lower on the lid when sealed? I may just try using them for things now too. :)

    I have to tell you, Rhonda, this post is absolutely fabulous! I love it! Also, I wish I had found your blog years ago, rather than just months ago. I've been enjoying it so very much and love it more with each post you put up!
    Thanks for all the effort you put into it.
    ~Sue

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    1. Sue, they usually pop just like the other lids. I always check to see if the top is indented too and if the odd one isn't, I put that one in the fridge and use it first. Most of the time they're fine.

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  34. Hi Rhonda,
    I have just bought all three of your books and look forward to reading each page! The resource you provide is fabulous. Thank you :)

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  35. I have to confess, I love love love glass jars and have quite a collection of them. I now only store things in glass jars and no longer use plastic containers to store anything in. I sometimes find it difficult to throw glass jars away. I use to love it when Bonne Mamam jam went on sale so I could justify buying it as they make the perfect jar for preserving and storing all kinds of things in. I have so many I no longer buy the jam but make it myself. I just love to see home made jam and preserves lined up on my pantry shelves. Do you think I may have a slight problem?

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  36. I have to admit that I sometimes bought things like an enormous jar of pickles just for the jar! Of course we did eat the contents, but usually the whole thing is cheaper than buying only the jar.

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  37. I too love collecting glass jars and I store them in a cupboard near the kitchen. I am gradually changing my plastic containers to glass jars so I am always on the look out for larger ones. Thank you for all the photos you posted!

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  38. What a wonderful article! I too save jars. One of my favorite jars to save is a jelly/jam jar from our local grocery store. They are so pretty and just the right size to use for drinking glasses. They have a pretty design at the bottom and since the lids pop off they have a nice rim. They are a nice heavy glass so they don't break easily either. I wait until the jelly goes on sale then I will buy one or two at a time. I have quite the collection of jelly jar drinking glasses!

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  39. Hi Rhonda, I loved seeing all of your jars. I have a question. How do you save your chicken stock? Do you freeze it in the jar? Or use a hot water bath? I really appreciate the wealth of knowledge you so freely share on your blog.

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    1. I store the stock in a jar in the fridge for a couple of days before I use it. If I want to freeze stock in litre amounts it goes into a plastic tub, and small amounts in zip lock bags. You have to pressure can stock or any meat product. A water bath doesn't work.

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  40. I wrote a long reply...then logged myself out instead of posting! Homefully this isn't a duplicate! Regarding re-use of commercial jars (like spaghetti sauce jars,for instance)...Ithink that it's discourage in the USA because the jars used in commercial production are not intended for multiple high heat processing used in canning either by water bath process or pressure cooking. That said, I am not sure if that really is true. :) I have a ton of canning jars, many of them older colored jars that still work just fine. I no longer can like I used to however. We had a great garden at our first home, but the land here is not so great. Heavy clay, really wet, marauding critters even though its a suburban neighborhood. Animals that used to live in wooded areas and fields have been edged out and come looking for food elsewhere :( We have deer coming right up to our house! I gave some friends jars, and I use them in decorating (the colored ones look cool entwined with a string of white lights) some "gifts in a jar" mixes, and after reading your post...storage! Thanks for the post!

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  41. I have recently started collecting jars much to the annoyance of my husband who knows how much my Tupperware cost over the years. However, I have always kept spare and odd buttons in an old coffee jar! Just like my Grandmother used too. There is something satisfying about the sound of a glass jar with a metal lid. ** On a side note, I am impatiently waiting for your very first book to arrive in the mail. I wish I had discovered you years ago but very happy that I have now. Better late than never!!

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  42. Ha....50 comments already of fellow "useful glass jar" collectors....hopefully not to the point of being hoarders! There is a lot of us out there. I also love tiny glass bottles or nice shaped bottles to use for simple flower arrangements. One of my most prized glass vases was bought as a jar of jam in Germany....mainly bought for the jar! Aloha

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  43. i collect jars too, small to medium mostly for my daughter who has recently discovered preserving but i collect large ones now for foods too & any pretty ones; i also use my honey tubs which are plastic but i can't 'throw' them out when i can store all my yarn bits in them & any other bits & bobs too. much to my horror i also discovered that there are no more glass jars on the supermarket shelves? at least not in the mayonnaise i like to buy, 'Praise' they always had glass jars, was so disappointed when i saw this, as i don't buy much in the way of condiments anymore (most i get from stalls now which are in glass jars) there are so many wonderful shapes out there that are hard to resist.
    wonderful post
    thanx for sharing

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  44. I love this post. I smile when I see your collection of jars! I have more jars than I will ever use, but even though they can go out with the recycling, I can't seem to part with the extras. I love all the shapes and colored lids - what's not to love. Seeing your tape measures on the shelf reminded me that mine are coiled up in short wide mouth jars. Thanks for all your wonderful posts.

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  45. Yes, I collect jars too! Most of my spices are now in jars of varying sizes and I love the coffee jars for pasta, rice and powders. Every so often I buy a jar of Bon Maman jam to keep up my supply of gingham lidded jars! The Peach conserve is delicious!

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  46. I'm look you and was just thinking I need to sort through my jar cupboard and get it organized again. I cook Sunday dinners for my daughters and often send them home with leftovers in jars. They bring them back but not right away so I'm never quite sure how many jars I have available!

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