On most days my house is a hive of activity. There's a steady stream of family and friends that regularly cross my threshold, not to mention the three men I live with and cook for on a daily basis. There's Hubby, the American and the Little Man, all of whom have different tastes, schedules and appetites. Here's how I stopped being a short order cook and turned my fridge into an open all hours self serve buffet.

Which jars to use?

For cooking food in jars you must only use jars intended for preserving and canning.  Do not use jars that are referred to as commercial jars, that is jars that you would buy mayonnaise, pickles etc from the supermarket.  These are not intended to cope with high temperatures and may crack or worse yet, explode.

There are two brands that I am familiar with, the Quattro Stagioni brand, and the Mason/Kerr brand. 

The Quattro Stagioni brand are Italian made.  They have a rounded shape and are metric in size.  The lids are one piece, rather than the two piece found on the Mason jar, which means that if you are using these for canning the whole lid must be replaced rather than just the sealing disk.  They are, however, BPA free.  There is less variety in size and there is no straight sided variation.  

Mason jars come in a vast range of sizes, shapes and colours.  One of the great advantages to these over the Quattro is that you can get straight sided jars which make both cooking and eating from the jar much easier, not to mention cleaning.  The lids have two pieces, a disc with a rubber seal, and the screw on ring.  If doing traditional canning, only the sealing disc needs replacing, however these are not BPA free.

There are other well known brands such as Weck and Fowlers just to name a few, and I don't mean to suggest that one brand is superior to the other, but I can only comment on those I have used.

Which one should you use?  Well ultimately it's a partly personal, partly practical choice.

For most things I prefer a straight sided jar rather than a jar that has shoulders.  It's easier to cook in, there's more room for toppings, and you won't get an atomic cloud occurring when things rise.  Straight sided jars are also easier to eat out of, and easier to clean.  This rules out the Quattro brand as they only have rounded jars.

That leads me to choosing Mason jars as my personal and practical preference.

A Word Of Warning...

The term Mason jar is, in many countries, just another word for canning or preserving jar.  I've bought a batch of Mason jars here in Australia that had no manufacturer details, no contact name or number.  Of the twelve I bought, four cracked in plain hot dishwater and there is no way they would tolerate the temperatures required for preserving, let alone being put in a hot oven.

There are also sold in supermarkets and department stores cheap jars that are Quattro knock-offs.  From experience I have found that the lids to these jars are ill fitting and do not form an air tight seal.

For your safety, and piece of mind, use a trusted well known brand.