Yes, what do you keep in your Mason jar or jars? They are such a phenomenon nowadays that I am sure, like me, you have more than one.
Why are Mason jars called Mason jars? Is it something to do with the Freemasons (always intriguing)? Is it something to do with stone masons? Do we even have stonemasons in the 21st century?
This host of questions popped up in my mind because Mason jars are “trending now”. You can see them in all the adverts. You Tubers, cooking show hosts, lifestyle coaches and fitness gurus all can be seen sporting them. Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are all full of them.
Nearly every supermarket has them. Crockery shops are carrying them in all shapes and sizes. I even saw an advertisement for a company that personalizes Mason jars for you just like mugs. You can have whatever message or slogan you like printed on them.
What are Mason jars? For the un-initiated, they are beakers or jars made of thick, temperature resistant glass and have a screw top lid — somewhat like the ones your granny or great granny used for pickles, chutneys and jams. They come in many different styles and sizes — tall, short, narrow or wide.
My personal favourites are the ones with a handle and a hole in the lid for a drinking straw. These are so useful for chilling smoothies, juice, iced tea, fruit water etc. in the fridge. Their screw top lids make them just perfect for the door of your fridge. There are no spills and you don’t get the smell of other stored food in your drink – goodbye smoothie smelling of yesterday’s chicken curry.
But why the hype? What’s the appeal? What is their utility? As always, Wikipedia to the rescue: “A Mason jar, named after John Lands Mason who first invented and patented it in 1858, is a moulded jar used in home canning to preserve food. (Hah! So I was right when I thought that they looked like the ones my Nano used for mango pickle and chutney.)
These jars had specially designed lids to make them air-tight for food storage and preservation. Mason jars are also called Ball jars in reference to the Ball Corporation, an early and prolific manufacturer of glass canning jars.”
Mason jars are being used not just for food and drink, but for a myriad other uses. The most popular one of course is storage — their air-tight lids making them ideal for this. Their storage function is not limited to tea, coffee and sugar (or all your other kitchen and household items. Small ones are even being used in the office for paper clips, small Post-its and other odds and ends. They make excellent draft-proof candle holders.
Filled with glass marbles, sea shells or any pretty items they instantly become an item of home décor. I have often displayed little bits of drift wood, sea shells or other knick knacks only to be discouraged by the amount of dust that they accumulate. Displaying them in Mason jars with pretty lids is a practical solution.
I Google searched “Mason Jars” and look what I found : whole articles dedicated to them. “50 creative uses for Mason jars” and “In defence of Mason jars”, were the ones I liked best. I even found an on-line gift business called “The Mason Jar Shoppe”.
Whatever they are used for, Mason jars are a very popular trend that I like very much because they are washable and re-usable. Brought up on the “disposable culture “ of the past several decades, we need to re-discover the pleasure of using quality items again and again. Mason jars are a good way to “reduce, re-use and recycle” making them as useful in the 21st century as they were in the 19th. It is so nice to see a new trend that is actually something my grandmother, and her grandmother before her, used in everyday life. Now I wonder if her foot pedal sewing machine finds its way into modern living.