I prefer to keep my teas and spices in glass jars, because this material does not absorb odours nor flavours, meaning it can be reused without interfering in the food I store - besides, whenever I judge it necessary, I can sterilise the jars and lids (only the metal ones).
Unlike plastic, glass won't allow for aroma and flavour characteristics of the food to be lost, for glass stops aromatic substances from evaporating. I think it is very functional, since the jar's contents are always on display, plus I find it pretty.
Furthermore, it is a sustainable storage solution, because most of the time I put to use packages that would otherwise be discarded (honey, jam, dulce de leche, juice, etc); even if I bought a set of identical containers, it is a material that lasts long.
Besides storing teas and spices, I use my glass jars to keep nuts, oats, rice, beans, snacks, cookies, bars, jams, chutneys, iced tea, juice, to prepare and store yogurt, a thousand uses.
In the case of beans, there is a bonus: if you pick them before storing, assuring there are no bean weevils among the grains, they remain free from this problem, since the bugs cannot enter a well lidded jar (something that magically happens with plastic jars). If you add a few bay leaves and cloves of garlic, then you drive out any unsuspecting weevil that happens to drop by.
The only situations where I would rather use plastic containers rather than glass are:
in the freezer (glass might brake or shatter in the low temperature, or in possible temperature shocks), or to take food somewhere (because glass is heavier and there is the risk of breaking. Just picture taking the subway with a large jar of salad on your way to diner at some friend's place).
Now, the stress-free label removing methods.
I don't know about you guys, but I find those ripped half-way-removed labels quite ugly.
I always use oil, but some friends told me about other methods they swear by.
The explanation for the oil method (given by a friend who has studied packaging engineering at Instituto Mauá, huh! Scientific stuff, people ;) is the following: the oil molecules destabilize the glue's chemical structure, allowing for simple soap and water to do the trick.
So how do I do it?
I grease the label with a layer of oil and cover it with a piece of paper napkin, to make sure the oil will stay in place instead of running.
It can be literally any oil available. Sunflower, canola, soy, olive, butter... anything will do.
Of course, I always choose the cheapest one around the house (usually canola).
I let the label "soak" in the oil like that for a couple hours, then I peel it right off.
Take a look at the picture below.
Then, I wash it with soap and water and presto! No residue left.
I have not personally tested the other two methods, but my friends say they're good, so I trust them.
The iced water method is good in case you want to keep the labels.
Place the jar or bottle in ice cold water and let it sit there for about one hour, fill the packages with water too to ensure they sink. Add some ice cubes to lower temperature.
After the soak, carefully peel the label, it should come off integer. If you want to keep it, leave air drying, glue-side facing up. Wash the jar as usual.
Lastly, the magic potion!
I doubt that there is anything that won't stay cleaner with the white vinegar + baking soda combination.
How to do it: soak the jars in hot water, filling them up to make sure they sink.
For one full sink, add 1/2 cup baking soda and one cup white vinegar.
The mixture is fizzy, don't worry about that. Pour in a little liquid soap detergent.
In a few minutes, the labels should come off by themselves.
Aaand washing inside a bottle is very simple. This is another of my grandma's tricks.
If the bottle has been laying around for a while and the liquid inside it is kind of dry and sticky, I fill it with water and let soak for a while.
If the liquid inside it is fresh (for example: if you just had the last sip of yogurt and will immediately wash the bottle) there is no need to soak.
All right. So, when the sponge doesn't fit through the bottle's neck, much less my hand, I throw in a handful of raw popcorn or rice grains, a bit of liquid detergent, and water to fill 1/3 of it's capacity.
I put on the lid (or cover with my hand) and shake it well. I rinse it about twice, so that I remove all of the soap, and the bottle is clean inside, ready to store some iced tea, juice, yogurt etc, or to use as a flower vase.
What about you?
Share in the comments your hints on food storage, the use or cleaning of glass containers.