The other night we were watching an episode of a favorite program, when one of the scenes featured a bit of the south which I really love. Mason Jars for drinking.
I'm sure most of you have a nifty set of glasses which you use in your everyday meals, but when it comes to killing a thirst, there is nothing like a quart jar of your favorite beverage to do the trick. You can find them by the dozens in just about any grocery store; most commonly near the end of the summer when gardeners are ready to be 'canning' their garden-gotten-gains. (Yeah, it's a strange notion to be canning with glass jars, but just go with it, ok?)
I first discovered Mason Jars for drinking when we went to a little restaurant in an out of the way place on a trip to the southern coast many years ago. Not only did they put a big quart jar of ice water on the table for each person, but every beverage from sodas to iced tea came in one of these crowd-pleasers. Our table top looked like we were smack in the middle of canning season before they brought out the main course.
Just so's ya know, Mason Jars were invented and patented by John Landis Mason, a Philadelphia tinsmith in 1858. (Whatdayaknow...a nawthener!) They are also called Ball jars, after Ball Corp., a popular and early manufacturer of the jars; 'fruit jars' because they are often used to store fruit; 'jam jars' or generically as glass canning jars. While largely supplanted by other methods for commercial mass-production, they are still commonly used in home canning.
Today, the terms often refer to any of the jars featuring a two-piece cover: an inner, flat, metal or glass lid, covered by a screw-on ring. The ring holds the lid in place during the canning process, which creates a partial vacuum, sealing the lid until opened. Because lids are sold separately, the jars and rings can be reused.
Mason jars are made of soda-lime glass, and come in a variety of sizes including pint, quart, half-gallon, and cup, as well as in wide-mouth and regular-mouth openings. (I prefer the wide mouth quart, myself.) There are also jars ready made for drinking which come with a handle on the side. These are great for the young ones as they are harder to drop (though dropping a mason jar may, indeed, be a mess, they are more easily replaced than those special delicate glasses you got at your wedding from your dear old aunty.)
Perhaps the hardest part of using the jars for drinking is that filling up a few of these jars can empty the biggest of pitchers. It might be a good idea at home to keep your beverage of choice in gallons for your big thirsty family. (Many people have asked me where you can find these - but with the handle on the side just right for holding that ice cold beverage. Always wanting to please, I found this: Click Here! and also this: Click Here! AND, this last weekend, November 2013, I found these At Walmart!)
With only the wife and myself, though, it seems rather extraneous to make up so much at one time. Thank God for Google. I found a great recipe for making lemonade or iced tea right in the jars and you can make up several and store them (covered!) in the fridge for when you need them. (In addition, for those who like to take that cold beverage to into the out of doors, there is a nifty doodad called the "Cuppow Lid" - perfect for taking outside to work in the yard, the lids keep the wasps, bugs and cicadas out of your drink while you work or relax!)
The summer is right around the corner, and some Suthun Sweet Tea (with the requisite capital letters) in a mason jar is gonna be one of the highlights this summer! I hope it's one of your highlights, too!