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I have started making homemade yogurt, and I usually keep two types at the same time. One is a lactobacillicus bulgaricus strain, the other is a bifidus strain. They taste differently and look exactly the same - so I usually want to know which one I am taking out of the fridge, but can't tell by looking. I make the yogurt in small jars meant for home canning, and they only come in a single color.

Weck jar.

Unlike jam, the turnaround time is short, I only make 6 jars per batch of any type, and eat at least one of each type per day. So I want something which survives washing the jars (so not paper labels). I also don't want to make permanent marks on my jars. I have been thinking to start putting something foodsafe in each jar such that it is visible from the outside, but don't have ideas of what this thing should be.

Ideally, the solution should also work for glass clip-lid containers, like these, because I might switch to them:

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What is a practical and aesthetically pleasing solution for distinguishing the yogurt types?

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    Are you washing by hand or using a dishwasher? – Stephie Dec 2 '17 at 13:45
  • And how "crafty" are you inclined to be? – Stephie Dec 2 '17 at 13:45
  • currently by hand, but this will change as soon as I find the time to take care of the kitchen and buy a dishwasher. Crafty is OK if I only have to do it once, not if I have to craft distinguishers for every yogurt batch. – rumtscho Dec 2 '17 at 13:47
  • What about simply adding a natural colouring to one of the yoghurts? – Mauro Dec 3 '17 at 8:47
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Some permanent markers (sharpies for example) can take multiple passes through the dishwasher while still being legible, but a quick wipe with alcohol of any kind will take it off.

For truly permanent marking on glass, engraving is the way to go. A vibrating engraver is more precise and more expensive than a rotary tool (dremel or cheap equivalent), but the latter is perfectly fine and makes wider lines. The downside is that this isn't particularly visible against a white background such as yoghurt unless you go over it with marker.

Simply twisting a bit of coloured wire around the clip might do the trick.

Plastic stickers (widely available aimed at children) can survive being washed many times as evidenced by my daughter's water bottles, but you're a bit restricted as to design - is one yoghurt a good match to pirates and the other better for princesses?

  • Haha, yes, in fact I still haven't found a good time/temperature combination for the lactobacilii and I would say they come out at a pH of around 3 every time, while the bifidi are mild - so pirates and princesses would express the character of the two strains well. I had mentioned in the question that I personally don't want permanent markings like engraving, but it is OK mentioning it among other options in case the next reader of the question can use it. – rumtscho Dec 2 '17 at 18:03
  • As mentioned, Sharpies will come off of glass and most other materials with a bit of isopropyl alcohol, which is commonly available. If left for a long time the Sharpie mark can be difficult to remove from some plastics, or other materials. In such cases, the mark will significantly lighten with continued application of / rubbing with the alcohol. In the hardest of cases, you may be left with a light mark. – Makyen Dec 2 '17 at 19:17
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Having marks that are both temporary and durable is a tough combination, because something that can survive a dishwasher will by definition be hard to remove.

Good answers already provided, but I personally prefer the flexibility of being able to label each container however I want every time I use it, to avoid having to keep track of separate types of containers.

I generally use a grease pencil, AKA china marker. They are specifically meant for marking glass and china. They are available in various colors. The markings are easily removed, and will not survive a dishwasher, but would probably survive gentle hand washing. Despite the name they are actually wax-based, not grease-based and are safe for use in the kitchen.

One other advantage of grease pencils is that they can write on a wet surface, which is great when you've got a cold container with condensation on it.

Here's a blog post with a couple of examples of grease pencil use. Apparently writing your name on your wine glass at a party is a thing to do now.

  • Interesting. I think I would be OK with repeating the markings directly on the glass. What puts me off paper labels is that you have to scrub residue every time, you have to locate both a label and a pen usually, and so on. – rumtscho Dec 2 '17 at 19:15
  • grease pencil was my first thought, too. I've never tried it in the dishwasher, but it typically Second was insulated copper wire on the closing mechanism (clips, hinge, whatever). – Joe Dec 2 '17 at 21:21
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Personally, I tend to use "permanent" markers: Once you run the jars through a dishwasher, they usually disappear.

Nail polish is a bit more permanent and suitable for colour-coding and writing (at least single letters or symbols). Grandma used it to mark the kids' personal drinking glasses and on the bottom, it keeps well, even in the disheasher. The sides are a bit more exposed to the spray, but should withstand a few dozen cycles nevertheless. Easy to remove and redo, if necessary. Stencils come handy, too (re-usable, self-adhesive ones, for example).

For a more "crafty" approach, have you considered Window Color / fake stained glass paint? Probably not something you want to keep on the jars while they incubate, but as a reusable peel-off label, you could get multiple uses out of each. Store on a plastic sheet protector when not in use. You need not get as detailed as I did here.

  • If the clips don't go through the wash, that'd be a great thing to mark with nail polish – Joe Dec 2 '17 at 21:25
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Replacement jar seals of different colors, colored rubber band, or when you switch to the square containers, different colored lids. Alternately, a circle of parchment or wax paper on the surface of your yogurt. Weck also has a white plastic lid (see Amazon) that you could place on jars you want to distinguish. See also this storage cap. ...and this.

  • Maybe I wasn't clear, but none of the jars and containers from the brands I have come with different color seals or lids. So of these suggestions, only the rubber band is workable. – rumtscho Dec 2 '17 at 13:40
  • @rumtscho what is the diameter of the opening of your Weck jars? – moscafj Dec 2 '17 at 13:43
  • 60 mm, these are the 160 ml kind - I find this a good size to eat yogurt in one sitting, and seven of them use up a 1 liter carton of milk and fit in the Instant Pot. But I am considering to branch out to larger options too, to have yogurt for cooking and patisserie. – rumtscho Dec 2 '17 at 13:46
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    @rumtscho - but you're talking about maybe switching. Mason jars come in every shape size and color, and all take the same no-gimmick metal lids (that pop if it's spoiled) that you can permanently mark and easily replace because they've been on the market for over 150y. – Mazura Dec 2 '17 at 20:45
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As I understand your question, you want temporary labels. Write your temporary label with pen or marker on clear tape. Fold one end under slightly to make a tab for easy removal. I use this method to mark the date on glass containers of left overs. Easy to grab the folded end and rip the tape off after eating the contents. Or, perhaps you could use different food colorings to distinguish between the types of yogurt.

  • Sorry, meant to add that the clear tape with permanent marker will survive several washings but is better replaced each time to avoid leaving residue on glass. – Jeslah Dec 3 '17 at 1:02

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