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Preserving the Mason jar tradition

You know it’s summer when the celebration moves outdoors and the drinks are served in Mason jars.

Not just any drink, mind you, but refreshing beverages likely served from a dispenser (sometimes shaped like a big canning jar). Think party punch, iced tea or water flavored with lemon slices, mint leaves or cucumbers. Straws – color-coordinated to the party decor – prevent any dribbling mishaps.

“Everything looks cuter in a Mason jar,” said one friend, who earlier this week received for her birthday a flower arrangement of sunflowers in a blue jar.

One of her daughters recently attended a bridal shower at which the guests could choose from a variety of salads – the ingredients, including salad dressing, layered in individual glass canning jars. After making their choice – caesar, BLT, etc. – they emptied the salads onto the plates provided.

Mason – or Mason-inspired – jars used as beverage glasses and salad containers are nothing new, of course, but it’s clear that this craze for repurposing glass canning jars is far from over. If it ever will be.

(Quick note: Mason refers to John Landis Mason, the man who created and patented his jar with the threaded neck and screw-on lid in 1858. The Ball Co. began making glass home-canning jars in Buffalo in 1884, before its founders moved the company to Indiana in 1887 to take advantage of abundant natural gas reserves essential to making glass, according to Ball.com.)

Glass canning jars have enjoyed several resurgences through the decades. Today, with growing interest in locally grown produce and activities such as canning, their renewed popularity makes sense. But they can be used for so much more (soap dispenser or snow globe, anyone?)

Pinterest and the Knot, the wedding website, are just two online resources for seeing countless ideas for canning jar decor and centerpieces – from the rustic (battery operated votives in jars arranged along a burlap table runner) to the romantic (jars filled with pink and white roses and baby’s breath).

Chandeliers crafted from glass canning jars are sold by various retailers, while DIYers can easily find instructions online for making their own. Bed Bath & Beyond sells the Mason Jar Flatware Caddy – three glass jars atop an iron tray – and is just one place to find Mason jars designed for drinking. At our house, salt and pepper shakers shaped like miniature Mason jar mugs are kept on the counter.

People can’t seem to get enough of finding new ways to use the ubiquitous jars. Here are some simple ideas (you’ll find instructions for more involved projects on websites such as Country Living):

• As night lights. Real Simple magazine suggests filling a large Mason jar with a strand or two of battery-powered lights to place along a walkway or on a table.

• As desk organizers. Glass canning jars of various sizes come in handy for holding pencils, pens, rulers, etc.

• For cupcake liner storage. Have a collection of cupcake liners in opened packages taking up cabinet space? Country Living shows them stacked in a wide mouth quart-size Mason jar.

• For a spare change collector. Toss loose coins in a jar, and the amount will add up before you know it.

• As gift container. Reuse a lidded jar to pull together a themed gift, such as a manicure kit with nail polish, file, cotton balls and so on. Or use one to hold treats such as homemade cookies, nuts or candy – always a nice hostess gift.

Add some ribbon, gift tag and you’re off to the party – where the drinks will likely be served in Mason jars.

email: smartin@buffnews.com