I have a confession to make—I’m sorry that I’ve hidden this from you for so long: I am an artificer. A maker. I am a crafter! I love crafts. I make ornaments, I decoupage, I papercraft like mad, I sew, I do some woodworking. I have at least 6 different types of glue at any given time. Spray paint is my friend and glitter makes my heart poop its pants. And one of my favorite, most versatile things is the handy-dandy Mason jar. I love Mason jars and—not to be totally hipster about it—I loved them before the whole shabby chic/farmhouse D.I.Y. craze.
Not that there is anything wrong with that style, it’s just not—on the whole—my scene.
I am also a cook and a dormant gardener hoping to start growing again soon. Growing up poor in the rural interior, Mason jars were invaluable: I spent hours in my grandmother’s kitchen or at home with Mom in our own kitchen helping to lay up food for the fall and winter. In addition to canning green beans, tomatoes and tomato sauce, and lima beans (*shudders* that was definitely my grandmother’s thing), I’ve made so many pickles in my life! I have vivid memories of my grandparents’ basement—that Papa decked out half of it as a game room, complete with a ping pong table, for the large gaggle of grandkids only makes those memories brighter—with shelves upon shelves of canned fruits, vegetables, beans, and pickles. During summers as a kid and, much more recently, the summer before I started grad school, I helped Momma with the garden and canning ALL THE THINGS. For last year’s non-denominational capitalist wintertime gift giving season, I made maple bourbon and spicy apple butters and canned them to give everyone on my list. As much as I enjoy canning—granted, it’s must easier to enjoy when you don’t have to do it—I loved using Mason jars as drinking glasses so much more. I still do. There are few things that beat some iced sweet tea with lemon in a large Mason jar in the summer. As it gets colder, though, I’m using smaller jars for juice or my boozy eggnog.
This was my dessert last night—eggnog with a bourbon cream liquor and a splash of bourbon. It was delicious! Shout out to Shandle for sending me bourbon cream liquor for my birthday—thank you! I love it!
Listing all the things that Mason jars can be used for would leave me sounding like Benjamin Buford Blue (but “people call [him] Bubba, just like one of them ol’ redneck boys. Can you believe that?”): candle holders, spice jars, drinking glasses, desktop organizers, vases, centerpieces, wall sconces, “piggy” banks, meal prep, storage for anything you can fit in them, terrariums, luminarias, herb gardening, gift giving, making individual desserts, canning and preserving (obvs.), various witchy purposes, FOR SCIENCE, and, if I had to estimate, a bajillion other things.
Things witches love, an unexhaustive list: cool rocks, neat sticks, herbs, different color salts, and Mason jars.
When John Landis Mason originally filed the patent for the Mason jar, which was granted on November 30, 1858 (U.S. Patent No. 22,186), I’m sure that he did not imagine his screw threaded glass jars would be used to store loose nails in workshops or strung up for patio lighting. His goal was to make preserving food a more effective, safer endeavor with his airtight canning jars: prior to the Mason jar, e. Coli, listeria, and botulism were serious risks associated with home preserved foods. If not for Mason’s airtight jars, countless likely would have not survived through long, cold winters, through wartime food rationing, through economic bust times, or through poor growing seasons.
No botulism for you.
Because of all these things and more, many folks have carried a need for preparedness through generations. In the time of COVID-19, though, many new folks have turned to canning and pickling out of a sense of needing to be prepared (and, probably, boredom a little bit, too). In fact, the uptick in home canning has actually created a shortage of Mason jars. Seriously! As Kyler Alvord at The Thrillest put it, “This year, 2020, two decades into the 21st century, we are having trouble finding Mason jars in stores because so many people are using them for, I kid you not, canning. It’s the most obvious explanation, yet somehow the least expected.” After years of Pinterest wedding photos, indie breweries and mom & pop restaurants serving drinks in them, and YouTube videos of fun Mason jar gifts to do with your kids, and so on, we’re experiencing a national Mason jar shortage because people are actually using them as John Landis Mason intended!
Perhaps 2020 has made National Mason Jar Day even more important. So, if you’re lucky enough to have one, grab a spare Mason jar leftover from your canning, use it to make some cold brew coffee or pour yourself the beverage of your choice and join me in toasting John Landis Mason and his canning jars. They’ve kept folks alive, entertained, artistically engaged, organized, and hydrated (and, sometimes, not so hydrated).