Friday, December 09, 2016

Mason Jar Nation: The Jars that Changed America and 50 Clever Ways to Use Them Today by JoAnn Moser

I have a weakness for collecting glass jars. Some are very small. Baby food jars with hand painted lids housing tiny shells I picked up on the beach. Others are large vintage Ball jars, teal colored like the one on the cover of Mason Jar Nation. Jars are very useful for storing things, but they are also a part of Americana, according to Joann Moser, the author.

I like this book because it is a combination of history and DIY projects. For starters, Moser describes herself as “a writer who likes to make things.”Color, she found, is a good way to determine a jar’s age. From this book I learned that around the turn of the century, people wanted clear, not colored glass. Glassmakers could add manganese to the sand, soda and lime used to make clear glass, but in WWI, Germany was the source of manganese. Glassmakers used selenium instead which made the glass have a light yellow hue.

Did you know the first modern day fruit jar and the technique of canning began in 1795 with a chef-pickler-presever- baker-brewmaster in France, named Nicolas Appert? He was awarded 12,000 francs from Napoleon for coming up with a way of preserving food for the military. Moser shares this information in her book, also.

You can find out more of the history of glass jars and if the jars you own are valuable from Mason Jar Nation's section entitled Collecting Jars.

Some of the projects in this book require special equipment such as a metal hole punch or a bottle cutter. The author gives instructions on cutting the jars and goes into more detail about the process on, an online design community. A few are ambitious and require purchased supplies. It would be a good idea to read through the supply list before attempting to make those such as the Music Box Memory Jar or the Sparkling Outdoor Chandelier.

But, the Homemade Butter in a Jar project in Mason Jar Nation doesn’t require much! Just a quart sized Mason jar with band and lid, a strainer, large spoon, water, plastic wrap and heavy whipping cream. Put the whipping cream into the jar and shake it for about 20 minutes and voila! you have butter.

With the holidays coming up you could use Mason jars to make a variety of food gifts from the ideas in Mason Jar Nation, such as Dark Forest Trail Mix or make a Gardener’s Gift Jar.

For lots of tasty jar fillers and creative gifts to eat try: Mason Jar Salads, 50 Layered Lunches to Grab and Go or The Mason JarCookie Cookbook: How to Create Mason Jar Cookie Mixes. All of these books are available at the Virginia Beach Public Library.

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