Mason Jar Memories

The other day I was in Walmart shopping when I ran across a “new product”. I smiled as I picked it up, noting that this new product was the same as it was over 40 years ago. There was nothing really ” new” about it, other than maybe a new use…..The product? A mason jar.
mason jar
Growing up as one of six children, many times our parents would improvise to make ends meet. One of the ways that my mother stretched the dollar, was to can every possible vegetable and fruit that people in the church gave us. I can still hear the whistle of the pressure cooker as she hurried about the kitchen, counting rings and tops.
” Jessi, I’m going to take these out now. Get a towel, set it on the floor, so I can set these down until they pop,” she directed. My mother would always include anyone that passed through her kitchen to perform a task…..always. My sister was much better in the kitchen…..I preferred to be outside with my dad, tagging along with him, but somehow, on canning days, I was in the kitchen.PressureCookersOnStove-300
“Pop? Why do you want them to pop?” I asked. For another 30-45 minutes, my mother educated me about the canning process. She explained how important a “good seal was”, and the” pop” indicated perfection of that seal.
She would carefully lift each 1/2 gallon Mason jar out, placing it alongside the wall on the towel. She kept cooking, canning and lining each jar up until she reached her goal of 24 jars of green beans. She seemed pleased as she counted them.
” 24. Ok Jessi, tomorrow we will can tomatoes. I am hoping for at least 30 quarts. Tonight we will peel them.”
I can barely express to you my excitement of the thought of peeling tomatoes. But I knew our house was not a ” lay on the sofa and watch TV’ kind of place. Our parents believed in working, accomplishing, achieving and helping. The helping part was highly over rated, but not optional, especially when it came to peeling tomatoes.
Mason jar, after mason jar was filled with tomatoes, sent to the pressure cooker, then released to awaiting towel on the floor for cooling and ” popping.”
All those days of summer canning, was so appreciated in the winter . Mom would pop open one of those huge Mason jars, filled with string beans….and oh was it a feast to behold! It wasn’t one of those nights at the dinner table where we only had enough food to go around once……..Mason jar nights meant a night of abundance !
The used mason jars also served a purpose in our household. The pint size jars became our drinking glasses! We even had enough for all of us to have one! We knew we were poor, but boy let me tell you, we had a whole set of drinking glasses, THAT MATCHED! We counted ourselves blessed.
As I stood in Walmart, holding the new product, I thought to myself, “certainly not new to me.”
Mason jar drinking glasses, some with handles, some without. They even had the cute little top that resembled a mason jar ring…..complete with a little hole in the top for a straw. How cute.
As we all grow older, I think we will see more and more things from our generation re-invented . We will one day be old and gray, listening to young people discussing their discovery of wood burning stoves, typewriters, rotary phones and even photo albums that are not stored in a cloud.
I carefully selected 6 mason jar glasses, (without the handle)s and placed them in my cart. For a lingering moment, standing there in Housewares, I could hear the whistle of the pressure cooker….I could smell the green beans …..I could see my family seated around the kitchen table ………I felt as if I were home again.
Each time I open the kitchen cabinet, I see the little mason jars sitting there….an old memory reinvented.

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4 thoughts on “Mason Jar Memories

  1. Hi, enjoyed your post so much that I’d love to include it an anthology of non-fiction stories I’m compiling titles “Slices of Life.” So far the selected work of 14 writers and their bios and writing histories are included in this book. Would you please let me know at your earliest convenience if you’d be interested in learning more about it? I can be reached at russtowne@yahoo.com. I just released anthologies of poetry ‘Heart Whispers” with 22 poets participating, and fiction short stories “Palpable Imaginings” involving 8 or 9 writers.
    Russ Towne

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  2. I, too, remember my mom canning for the winter. Peaches, green beans, tomatoes, cabbage, apples, carrots, peas, pickles… Oh the memories of that stifling hot kitchen on a warm summer day, and the smells of the veggies and fruits being canned.

    Thank you for reminding me through your post just how blessed I was and I didn’t even know it.

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  3. I taught myself to can as a young woman. Yes, there is nothing like seeing those jars sitting on the shelf,opening one ,and smelling the contents. Wonderful sensory post!

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