There’s nothing like fresh vegetables out of the garden, or maybe from a farmer’s market. One way to have the same freshness during the winter is to preserve your own. This is the first ever Mason Jar Day, and that is your main tool when you want to “can your own.”

I’m old enough that I remember the mason jars that had their own glass lids attached by heavy wires. All you needed was the new flat rubber that created the seal between the jar and lid. Those jars were handy, you didn’t ever lose the lid, but they were also heavier. As technology advances, the mason jar has become thinner and less weighty. Now most of them work with screw on tops and flat lids with a rubber seal edge.

My family used to do a lot of canning. My sister still does. It’s a pleasure to go to her cellar and look at the bright red tomatoes, the pickles, beets, and even venison. The jar I am generally in search of is the dilly beans. They are a dill pickle but made with green beans. Once the jar is opened, it’s empty in no time, especially if my adult children are involved.

I think the best thing I ever had out of a mason jar was sweet cherries. They didn’t look very appetizing because their color had faded and they had shriveled in the syrup but oh my, they tasted like they had just been picked. Unfortunately I had to share the bottle. We ate a few plain, then put a couple spoonfuls on oatmeal and added some of the  juice. It was a breakfast I will never forget.

No discussion of mason jars would be complete without the mention of moonshine. Once when visiting in Kentucky a jar of true moonshine, from a backwoods illegal still, appeared. I like whiskey and I remember that clear liquid being as smooth as any I had ever had, with no burn on the way down. I’m told it’s the alcohol content that produces the burn. The bit of the “shine” I had still packed the desired punch. I can also tell you it was much better than any store-bought moonshine.

So whatever you use a mason jar for, even if it’s a button collection, give it a salute for being such a useful item in your household.