The 10 Best Glass Storage Containers
A Brief History Of Glass
Mankind first began to make glass sometime in the third millennium before the Common Era. Archeological evidence points to craftsman in regions now falling within the borders of Syria, Egypt, and several other nearby countries. Early glass (and indeed many types of glass made throughout human history) was made in much the same way naturally forming volcanic glass is created: by the super heating and then rapid cooling of compounds with a high silica content, an example of which is basic sand.
Glass was initially formed into beads and small objects likely used for decorative and ornamental purposes and for trade. True mastery over the creation of and control over glassmaking and glass craftsmanship would not commence for more than a thousand years after its method of creation was devised. By the middle of the second millennium BCE, however, glass was becoming less and less of a rarity, and was more often used to create objects used not just for decoration or devotion, but for everyday life.
Glassmaking was common in Ancient Rome, with the modern word for glass even descending from the Latin word glesum. By the early centuries of the Common Era, artisans were making elaborate and ornate artifacts out of glass in many parts of the world. Delicate drinking glasses and finely crafter vases were being made across much of Asia, while in other parts of the world the usefulness of glass as a building material had been fully embraced.
Excavations of early Medieval buildings across much of Europe show extensive use of glass for windows, and by around the year 1000, the glass used in windows was not merely chosen for translucence, but also for aesthetics. Churches from the late Anglo-Saxon and early Norman years had windows outfitted with elegant stained glass.
By the 13th Century, craftsman were making simple sheets of glass suitable for use in small windows. Blown plates of glass would be common by the early 1600s, and then in the 19th Century glassmaking technology lurched dramatically forward. That century saw the advent of tempered glass, which resists shattering and heat distortion, rolled glass, which can feature patterns and texture, and an early forerunner of safety glass, too.
Today, the medium is used for everything from windows to fiber optic cables to furniture. And glass is having a moment of elevated popularity with health and wellness conscious consumers turning away from plastics for use in food storage containers. Inherently free of many of the potentially harmful chemicals found in plastics, including BPA (or Bisphenol A), glass is a great choice for food storage, transport, and even for cooking.
Choosing The Right Glass Storage Containers
First, a few words on why glass storage containers are superior to other food storage options. As mentioned above, glass imparts no harmful chemicals or compounds into your foods. Glass also neither imparts nor absorbs unpleasant odors, tastes, or colors, so your foods will have their flavor profile unblemished, and your glass containers will remain taste and scent neutral, provided you clean them well. And cleaning most glass storage containers is easy as almost all of them can be tossed in the dishwasher, and they stand up to rugged scrubbing when needed.
Unlike any plastic food storage containers, many glass options are also both freezer and oven safe, and most are microwave safe as well. That means easy reheating of leftovers or long term storage of frozen foods. Many glass containers also make excellent servicing dishes -- for everything from a dip or sauce to a main course, depending on their size -- which can simplify food service.
There are so many different sets of glass storage containers available, it can be hard to know where to start your consideration process. So instead of first looking at sets of glassware, first look at the leftover foods you and your family regularly end up with, and/or at the types of snacks, fruits, and vegetables you like to have on hand. It will be easier to envision (or write out) all the types of foods you would like to be able to store well and then to see which set (or sets) of glass storage containers will work best for you.
If you're mainly looking for leftover storage, then choose a set with a few larger containers. If you're selecting a set intended to help you prep and sort snacks or lunches, then a set with many sizes of containers and varied colors of tops is a fine idea.
Easy Make Ahead Meal Ideas
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the gift of time. And one of the best ways to do that is to cook large batches of foods that can be frozen for later reheating and enjoyment with minimal work.
If you have a set of glass storage containers that are both freezer, microwave, and oven safe, then you are already well on your way to easy, delicious, nutritious meals that require minimal prep time when it's time to eat.
While perhaps the easiest "freezer meals" are large batches of soups or stews portioned out into individual sizes of glass container for later microwave heating, there are many more options at your disposal. (Which is not to say that soups and stews aren't tasty and healthy.) Homemade lasagna can be frozen and stored for weeks or even several months, and then tossed into the oven for a "fresh" taste after its re-baking.
So too can many casseroles, Mexican classics like enchiladas, and of course timeless favorites like potpies all be frozen for extended periods of time in your glass containers and then cooked to perfection and served right out of the same unit.
Just make sure to allow foods to thaw and their containers to warm before you begin to cook them in a hot oven or microwave, and to make sure they have cooled to at or near room temperature before you place them in the oven; otherwise, you run the risk of your glass container cracking or even shattering dramatically with the rapid temperature change.