Thanks to a recent trend, especially in the beverage industry of the United States, most college age people now know what a Mason jar is, thanks to all those social media pages displaying ice teas or other cold beverages being served in mason jars with a paper swizzle straw and a cute garnish. There has even been a response to this trend by jar manufacturing companies; Now you can get a standard pint sized mason jar with a little handle on the side of it, in various colors, for all your snaps and grams of summer drinks made at home.
The Mason jar trend has become pervasive; Starbucks advertises their new cold brew in mason jars, despite the fact that they don’t sell them in this format. If you go to a hip bar and order a margarita or other similar cocktails, chances are you’ll be served your drink in a mason jar with some kind of garnish. You might find yourself in various forms of this situation, and think, why would they serve me with this? Why not a different glass?
The fact of the matter is that the Mason jar, especially when pint sized, is incredibly versatile. Restaurants spend more than you might think on things like silver and glassware, and when it comes to things like cocktail glasses, prices can reach well above the ten-dollar mark. Mason jars, at the retail level, sell for about $10 for a pack of twelve so that means that restaurants get them even cheaper wholesale, probably less than 80 cents per jar. To have something that is gaining popularity, works for many different styles of drinks, costs less than most glassware and has uses outside of the bar, the question becomes; why don’t more places use mason jars for drink service?
Pint jars can be used as beverage serving glasses, for anything from hot tea to milkshakes. They can be storage vessels for leftovers and are microwave safe with the lid off. These jars can make a vase for displaying whatever beautiful flowers are in season, or just hold your pens and pencils. Fill them partly with fresh water and re-grow scallions or lettuce in them. Plant culinary herb or flower seeds in a jar filled with soil to add some practical and beautiful décor to your dorm.
But the applications for the mighty Mason jar are very deep in the beverage world at home. With the airtight lid, they are a great way to take hot or cold drinks on the go, without worrying about a spill or leaks. Even after you finish your drink from home, pint jars make great water glasses to help you stay hydrated throughout your day. They make good cocktail shakers and even have volume markers on the sides to help you measure safely for each drink. Despite these useful aspects, the Mason jar truly was made for, and shines, in the kitchen.
Mason Jars were first established in America for all the people and farmers who had a bumper crop after a harvest and needed a way to keep their food safe for the winter. The process of safely preserving food in jars for later consumption is called canning, and quickly evolved into a beautiful array of cuisines and techniques, for a wide range of produce. Canning is an essential skill to anyone who wishes to keep green and, doing so is a way to save money without compromising flavor or nutrition. Canning at home is the best way to get mileage out of your garden’s yield or what you buy from the local farmers market. With little funds and a bit of time, you can enjoy all the local flavor of the summer and fall harvest, in the winter.
Mason jars of various sizes are available online or locally at Price Chopper for reasonable prices. Here are a few easy recipes that showcase the versatility of the pint sized mason jar. If that’s not enough, you can find many more recipes and guides online at Ball’s website: http://www.freshpreserving.com
(Makes 1 jar)
-Fill your pint sized mason jar 1/3 of the way up with any kind of dry quick oats
-Add the proper volume of your desired liquid (water, milk, nut milk, tea) as per the oats cooking instructions
-Add any spices, flavorings, or other condiments like peanut butter, cinnamon, clove, honey, agave, brown sugar, or maple syrup.
-Then add a quarter cup of your favorite nuts and/or dried fruits
-Top off the jar with any fresh fruit, or even a little yogurt and cover with the lid.
-Keep in the fridge over night, and enjoy in the morning.
Make more than one and store in the fridge for up to a week depending on your fresh ingredients, that way you can have a delicious, powerful, and cost effective breakfast, fast and with no trash or waste when you’re done, just don’t forget a spoon!
Customize this recipe any way you want to make it vegetarian or even vegan
These can be eaten cold right out of the fridge or heated in the microwave (WITH THE LID OFF)
(Makes 1 jar)
-1-2 large tomatoes, diced
-1/2 small red onion, diced
-1 large clove of garlic, minced or pressed
-1/2 small jalapeno, minced
-2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
-Juice of 1 lime
-Salt and pepper to taste
Add all the ingredients to your pint jar, close the lid tightly, and shake gently until all the ingredients are mixed through. Open and serve with chips right out of the jar or in a bowl, just in time for Sunday night.
Classic Sweet Pickles
(Makes 4 jars)
-6 cups thickly sliced cucumber
-2 cups large diced red (sweet or hot) pepper
-2 cups sliced onion
-1/4 cup of kosher salt
-2 cups apple cider vinegar
-1 ¼ cups of granulated sugar
-2 tbsp. mustard seed
-2 tbsp. celery seed
-1 tsp. red pepper flakes
-1/4 tsp. ground cloves
-First, start a water bath for the jars in a large pot half full of water, over medium heat
-Put all the veggies in a strainer set inside a large bowl, toss and coat the veggies in the salt and let sit overnight to leach out the natural water in the produce
-Take the strainer to the sink and rinse off all the salt with cold water
-Evenly distribute the washed veggies into your mason jars
-Prepare the brine in a medium saucepot over low heat
-Combine the vinegar with the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer, make sure all the sugar dissolves
-Carefully pour the hot brine over the veggies that have been pre portioned in the mason jars
-Once all the brine is poured over the veggies, seal the jars, but not too tight, and place in the water bath for a few minutes, using tongs
-Then remove the jars and place on the counter to cool, this final step allows the jars to safely form a semi-permanent airtight seal (as the pickles cool the lids will pop inward, this is a good sign of a safe seal).
-Once the jars have cooled, you can store them in a dark, cool and dry place, without refrigeration for about a year, but refrigeration after opening is advised.
Dan Wood is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.