Sturdy, stain-proof, and microwavable, glass can be a good choice for food storage, but which container offers the best size, shape, and sealing power?
Published May 1, 2018.
We don't think home cooks should have to choose between plastic and glass food storage containers, since both have advantages: While glass is heavier and more fragile than plastic, it also resists staining and warping, can go in the microwave without worry, and can even be used in the oven for cooking or reheating, offering great versatility. We tested five glass storage containers alongside six plastic containers (see related story for our plastic container testing results), all with capacities as close as possible to 8 cups, a good size for storing leftovers or a make-ahead meal. Some containers can be purchased a la carte, while others are sold only in sets. For those who purchase glass containers to avoid plastic, we did notice this: Most have plastic lids. Only one model we tested had a glass lid, with a silicone trim to seal it in place.
We put these glass containers through the same series of rigorous tests as our lineup of plastic containers, with the exception of knocking them onto the floor and with the addition of using them in the oven. Our goal was to find a truly airtight, leakproof container, in a size and shape that works well for home cooks, that resists stains and odors, can reheat food in both oven and microwave, and is easy to use and clean.
To keep food at its freshest, you want a container that is airtight and leakproof. If it tips a little in a crowded refrigerator or while you're transferring it from one location to another, you want to be sure it won't spill. And if you happen to be storing very fragrant food, odors shouldn't escape the container. We tested seal quality by filling our containers with water and shaking them in all directions, as well as by submerging them in water with moisture-detecting crystals sealed inside. One failed both tests right away: Its plastic cover lacked the silicone gasket and flaps that most others had to secure the lid, so it simply didn't seal completely. The rest performed perfectly—at least the first time we did this test. But after we'd used and washed them during routine testing and run them through the dishwasher 50 more times to simulate a year of weekly use, two of the four models failed to seal as tightly when we repeated the test, indicating that they might not hold up well over time.
To check whether they would retain smells, we filled the containers with oil-packed tuna and anchovies, refrigerated them overnight, washed them carefully, and conducted a “sniff test.” Only the container that had failed our leak tests, with its loose plastic lid and no gasket, was mostly odor-free; the others revealed the importance of re...
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Lisa is an executive editor for ATK Reviews, cohost of Gear Heads on YouTube, and gadget expert on TV's America's Test Kitchen.