When I went to pull a wide-mouth Ball out of my cabinet this morning to pour a glass of orange juice, I thought: if Southern culture had a container, it would be a Mason jar. It was a deep thought for first thing in the morning, yet it rang true.
As a little girl, I watched the shelves in Mamaw’s pantry cycle through jams, soups, and veggies. All of it was canned at home throughout the year. After we enjoyed the contents, the Mason jars were washed and stored with the rest of the jelly jars and drinking glasses.
Sweet tea tasted just as good out of a Mason jar as it did from one of Mamaw’s Wexford tumblers. So did the cornbread and milk we ate when Mamaw wasn’t up to cooking.
On hot summer days, the jars made makeshift vases for the wildflowers I picked off the mountain. At night, they turned into lightning bug lanterns with tinfoil lids.
Sometimes Papaw or Daddy hid Mason jars full of moonshine on top of the china cabinet. I wasn’t tall enough to go looking for it until high school. I’ve always wondered if that first sip of white lightning was made by Popcorn Sutton or not.
It’s been a long time since those days, yet Mason jars are every bit as much of my existence today as they were back then.
I reach for the soda-lime glass jars for everything. I use them to preserve food, store spices, and as measuring cups. They’re perfect for water-rooting plants. And I can’t imagine drinking from one of our fine crystal glasses when a Mason jar will do. As a Southern woman, a Mason jar will always do.
Honestly, I can’t think of anything that sums up the Southern experience better than a Ball. How about you?