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Does Food in Glass Storage Containers Stay Fresher?

Glass jars full of pasta; glass jars filled with flour and sugar; a fridge with stacked glass storage containers
Vtopmart/Anchor Hocking/JoyJolt

Storing food in glass containers is very trendy, but it’s more than just a style choice. In fact, glass storage containers can actually help keep your food fresher—here’s how.

When it comes to food storage, the options seem truly endless. Glass containers, however, are a versatile option that can store food on counters or in the fridge, whether leftovers from a finished meal or just the ingredients themselves. Here’s what you need to know about how glass storage containers can prolong the life of your pantry staples and much more.

Glass Storage Containers on the Counter

Three glass jars filled with baking dry ingredients; a hand pulling a cookie out of a glass jar
Anchor Hocking

Many of the dry ingredients you would typically store on the counter or in the pantry come packaged in containers that are not airtight and are susceptible to tears, deterioration, or pests. Flour and sugar often come in heavy paper bags, beans and dried goods usually are in thin plastic, and pasta and cereal are packaged in cardboard or plastic.

Instead, you can keep these ingredients in well-sealed glass jars. This has the dual benefit of prolonging their freshness and shelf life while also preventing contamination. Plus, it can look stylish to have ingredients displayed on jars on the counters. Finished food products that are meant to last a while, like baked goods, can also stay fresher on the counter when stored in glass containers.

Anchor Hocking 2-Quart Cracker Jar with Brushed Aluminum Lid

Store dry goods in the open while keeping them fresh.

Expiration dates do still matter, however, so be sure that you keep track. The easiest solution is to use a piece of masking tape, stuck to the bottom or back of the jar, and label it with the expiration date each time you fill the jar with a fresh batch of whatever ingredient. For this reason, try to avoid “topping off” the jars as they get emptier, because you’ll then have multiple sets of product with different expiration dates all mixed together. Instead, use each batch until the jar is empty, clean the jar thoroughly, and refill.

If you have multiple jars with similar-looking ingredients (for example, all-purpose flour and bread flour), you can use the same technique to label them and avoid confusion.

Glass Storage Containers in the Fridge

An overhead view of chopped veggies being put in glass containers; a fridge full of glass containers with food inside them

When storing food in the fridge, there are a couple of separate concerns to consider. The first, of course, is simply freshness, but you’ll also want to consider odor and chemical exchange between the container and the food within. Whether you’re storing pre-prepared ingredients for cooking later, or keeping leftovers for lunch the next day, the right storage is crucial.

That’s where glass storage containers work so well. Unlike plastic, glass is highly unlikely to absorb any odors or tastes from the food stored inside, nor is it likely to let those odors escape and permeate into other foods in the fridge. Unlike metal, glass does not run the risk of reacting with foods and causing them to change flavor or consistency.

Glass containers also may cost a little more up front, but they’re usually a better investment. Plastic breaks down much more quickly over time, even in perfect circumstances, and frequent washing—and storing even foods you might not think of as “smelly”—will eventually leave residue. Glass, on the other hand, will last for many years, making it both sustainable and budget-friendly in the long term. While glass does require more careful handling to avoid the risk of breakage, the trade-off is often worth it for all the benefits.

JoyFul by JoyJolt 24pc Borosilicate Glass Storage Containers with Lids

Glass containers keep food fresh---plus keep odors contained.

What Kind of Glass Storage Containers Are Best to Store Food?

Glass jars filled with pasta and cereal; several glass containers on a kitchen counter with food in them

There are many, many options out there for glass food storage containers, which can make choosing the right ones a little overwhelming. Fortunately, a few simple guidelines can help you find the right options for the specific items you’re storing.

For storing dry ingredients at room temperature on your counters or in your pantry, look for large glass jars with airtight lids. Some jars, especially ones that are made to be decorative first, may have lids that simply sit on top of the jar rather than actually sealing. Those won’t do much to help keep your food fresh.

Instead, look for jars with lids that have a rubber seal around the rim or that screw onto the jar. Thanks to their stronger seal, the jars will keep food fresher, keep moisture out, and avoid letting bugs or other contaminants enter the container.

Vtopmart 78oz Glass Food Storage Jars with Airtight Clamp Lids

An airtight seal is critical for keeping food fresh in jars.

For storage in the fridge, you’ll want containers that seal or latch firmly to keep leftovers fresh. If you need to make the most of your fridge space, look for coordinating sets of glass containers so that you can stack them easily and always have the best size on hand.

Keeping food fresh is a priority in any kitchen. With the right glass storage containers and a little know-how, you’ll find meal prep and pantry storage to be easier than ever.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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