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Sensing a bit of charity spirit in the air three weeks ago at work meant my thoughts approaching the end of week at work before our May holidays came right - apart from one other department, ours was roped into a charity cake and bake sale, mostly nominating those amongst of us who can cook cakes in the first place. So it was a party of mine two weeks ago on the weekend where my house was filled with excited colleagues and teenagers with glitter sugar decorations (always keep a cordless dust buster in the kitchen for the mess!) and other bake cake goods and accessories. Having a Kenwood Chef, two microwaves, two electric hand whisks and a multi cooking oven meant we baked more than 15 cakes in one go, with only a few select adults being powered by a few gin and tonics at the same time! It was at this point that I found a set of storage jars hidden away in a cupboard that I don't tend to touch any more than once a year - the baking cupboard - and discovered two storage jars I had bought mother seven years ago by Nigella Lawson from Lakeland - to match the Nigella bread bin my father adored the shape of.
The Product, The Promise & The Price
Nigella Lawson storage jars are available in two general sizes, 1.5 litre "small" and 3 litre "large" sizes with colours from pastel cream, black, pastel blue and pastel pink. I am absolutely certain that Nigella also released the jars in polka dots I caught sight of in John Lewis a few years back, but I've been unable to find them since. Made from thick stoneware with metal clasps, double sealed rubber airtight belt and a country style double layer glass lid with an additional rubber tongue lock, these jars are extremely well made and very durable in terms of the heavy weight and design.
Nigella storage jars promise "...Amphora-inspired containers that pour easily, or can be scooped from for all domestic goddess work."
The Nigella 1.5 litre storage jar that I bought originally cost £12 in 2006, which, at that time for a single jar did appear to be quite expensive. Now, seven years later in 2013, the same storage jar is priced at £16 on average and puts it directly into competition with other brands including Morphy Richards' glossy metal food storage jars with a similar or higher cost price. In light of the fact that I've only just been disappointed by Brabantia's set of 3 leaking storage containers, the thought did cross my mind to swap the use of them, relegating the Brabantia storage tins to the baking cupboard rather than leaving them out for daily access usage.
General Design, Quality & Impressions
Nigella cook and kitchenware has been on the UK market for some time now released a couple of years after she published her first cook book "How To Eat," in 1998 and others thereafter. Nigella Lawson is as well known for her easy-prep dishes and recipes, as she is for stirring and rather provocative gestures, statements and general character to which she readily admits she likes to be intimate rather than provocative. Thus, the quality kitchenware and cookware established by Nigella has a rather premium and versatile tone about it, reflected in the general design of good quality stoneware or porcelain (dependent on product type) and unique pastel colours - most of which seem to be inspired by the Cath Kidston company - without the patterns. The added feeling that she likes to be intimate is exactly reflected in the styles she has chosen; bigger sizes and softer designs that are made to feel as if they can be cradled, or feel cosseted with - and as a result lifts the view of the average mundane storage jar into something special. She hasn't produced them all by her own hand - Sebastian Conran had a hand in the design too!
The "small" 1.5 litre storage jar doesn't appear to be too big or small due the great versatile shape "cat shape" that it has, allowing the jar to be placed in a tilted design or in an upright position due to the shape and angles that have been set into the heel and back of the storage jar. It measures roughly 18.5cm by height with a width of 10.5cm and a depth of 16cm. However, this is a fairly heavy storage jar of its own accord too, no doubt due to the finish and stoneware quality - approximately weighing 1.3kg. As such this isn't the storage jar that is designed to be moved around, but rather the kind of jar designed to sit in one place and be accessed for any food prep from hand to plate.
General Performance & Downsides
Generally if there is one aspect that my family have loved about these jars, it is the simplicity of being able to unlock the metal clasp lock by one hand and access baking prep for cooking tasks with the same hand before closing and locking the lid. You can do that with many a storage jar of course, but the added weight of the stoneware means it sits in one place with whatever weight of the food you have placed in the jar without falling over. Also the height of the 1.5litre small jar lends itself easily in a cupboard provided that is left in the tilted position where quite literally I just reach in, unpick the lid and help myself to any of the baking things I need, or in more recent times, accessing a sweet baking treat like a square of cooking chocolate without anyone looking!
Generally either left in the upright or tilted position, Nigella storage jars are incredibly easy and reliable to use, completely airtight when sealed up due to its double metal clasp - and there's even a neat rectangular finger concave where the finger can beautifully and safely push the clasp or lift the clasp without ache to the fingers when opening or closing. Compared to my Brabantia storage tins, Nigella's storage jars don't leak if liquid is put in them, either!
The other aspect that I like about this product is how well the stoneware finish stands up to knocks and general placement even if the heels show signs of age and roughing from the positions in which mine have been placed. Overall the finish is glossy, smooth and tactile to the fingers and feels like a quality item as well as being easy to wash down with a damp cloth should the exterior gets dirty.
However, there are a few downsides to this design above the exterior design of placement. The metal clasps that are built into the general double layer glass lid can sometimes fall off due to the roughness of my fingers, or getting food prep out in a hurry. Luckily they are easy to fit back on, but their rattly design doesn't inspire heightened luxury and can be a major pain if the lock revolves around the airtight rubber ring, requiring it to be angled back to the concave lock at the top of the storage jar.
Also the rubber tongue that requires to be placed in between the metal clasp and the top concave also moves around freely - clearly all of these are designed to move easily for cleaning - but when they move at the time of use, they can be quite annoying, so a compromise is instantly recognised when the metal parts and rubber seal belt can be removed for hand washing as well as fairly easy to add back on when the jar is required. It is a pity then that the main metal ring that holds the clasp lock on the top of the storage jar has been permanently bonded to the jar, making only the lid's double rubber sealage belt removable and round metal ring on the lid removable for cleaning.
Over the years we have put our 1.5 litre storage jar into the dishwasher dependent on the food prep that has been stored in it - and as you will see from the photo - there has been a fair bit of corrosion wearing off the metal clasps that were once bright chrome like metal. Although they haven't flaked off when left out or in storage - the corrosion factor points out that these storage jars aren't dishwasher safe after all.
When I first bought Nigella 1.5 litre storage jars, it was at a time when only the creamy beige or light pastel blue colours were available, thus the addition of pastel pink or completely black moves the versatile approach on, not just suitable for cooking goddesses, but cooking gods too! Suitable for anyone who wants a slightly unique and versatile storage jar in his or her kitchen, Nigella Living storage jars move the traditional design and game on where storage jars are concerned. However, they aren't without their downsides - whilst they are well made, airtight and indefinitely versatile due to their shape and wide access - they are perhaps better for storing food that will be accessed once in a while, rather on a daily basis - and my leaky Brabantia storage jars have a chance to live another day! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2013.
When I bought my flat with my fiancé last year I'll admit I got a little carried away with buying pretty things which is why I ended up with 3 Nigella Lawson 1.5litre blue storage jars. In my defence my Mum bought 2 of them, but still, at £18 a jar they're a bit extravagant!
They are lovely looking jars. They have a round kilner style lid, the lid is clear glass so you can see what's inside the jar. The flip type fastening feels very secure and because of the rubber seal once the lid is shut it is shut tight.
The jar is smooth, matt porcelain in a lovely shade of duck egg blue. The really nice feature of this is that there are two 'bottoms' to rest on so the opening can be tilted or straight up. I have it tilted as I think it looks better this way! The jar is quite curvy looking, from the side it almost looks like a circle with a bit stuck on it, it's a really nice, original shape and looks expensive. On the bottom there is a stamp with Nigella's logo on and it says that it is made in Portugal.
I'd give these jars a much higher rating if the seals were better. After only about 3 months the seals wore away and on one of the jars it has pretty much disintegrated! We only keep tea, coffee and sugar in them so it can't be what we've been putting in them. It seems like a real let down after spending so much on them, I thought I was investing in these jars but they look grotty now. I'm going to get in touch with John Lewis, where I bought them from, and ask for them to put me in touch with their supplier so I can get replacements which I hope will last longer than the orignals.
These retail at £17.95 each and are available in blue, cream and black and there are lots of co-ordinating items to match. They are also available in 3 litre size.