The joys of small canning jars

Being a solar cooking nut, I find that canning jars are just about the very best containers to use in my small solar cookers. They are ubiquitous, fairly inexpensive, and definitely reusable unless you break them, and the dimensions are fairly exact.

I do a lot of playing around with my Ft2 solar cooker and the mini solar cooker, and the perfect combination for doing small things is a widemouth pint jar and a widemouth half-pint jar.

There are many advantages to canning jars, you can store stuff in them, mix stuff in them for cooking, cook in them, eat from them, store your leftovers in them in the fridge, pop them back in the microwave without the lid of course zap zap zap, and the really neat thing is that after all this you only have one jar to wash.

My little portable solar kitchen includes the reflector of course, and several canning jars. The pint and half pint jars can be stored and transported if you put them into what I call his nesting mode. This makes them pretty much break proof when you’re traveling and they get bounced about, and if you’re going camping or hiking.

Here’s how they fit together – note that the smaller jar has been painted black and this is so that it absorbs the heat energy from the sun. The outer jar is of course clear to allow the sunlight to get through.

To explain L to R, top to bottom. 2 jars, pint & half pint. Disassemble. Place smaller lid right side up into larger jar-note if it’s upside down, it won’t compress & seal right. Place carefully (tip sideways so it doesn’t fall & chip) smaller jar upside down into larger jar. Place smaller ring Upside Down over smaller. Place larger cap on. Screw on large ring.

So why would anybody go gaga and publish about simple canning jars? Well I really like how they fit together and compress so that they don’t rattle around when you are transporting them. And finally, below, how to use your jars to cook in a three mirrored solar cooker.

Place the small ring right side up in the center of the mirrors. Carefully place the dark smaller jar and whatever you are cooking in it on top of the small ring. Place the smaller lid on top of your cooking jar, but this is optional. Place the outer clear cover jar upside down over everything. You do not need the top lid. With this small cooker I have successfully boiled 8 ounces of water or other food stuff and just over one hour and 20 minutes in good sunlight. It’s a lot of fun, you can set it and forget it, and it is extremely portable. And there is a lot you can do with the larger canning jars too, but more about this later.

You don’t have to use these just for solar cooking, you can throw it in your backpack and if you happen upon a group feed somewhere down by the river, the pint jar is good to hold 16 ounces of soup or food, and the half pint jar is perfect for a cup of coffee. Now all you need is a spoon. Thank you.