The Much Maligned Mason Jar

A recent foodie fad had us put everything into Mason jars. But today fashionable, cutting edge foodies are suggesting that the Mason jar is passé. Codswallop, poppycock, and horsefeathers! For us, the Mason jar will never go out of style. It’s harvest season! Gardeners are canning everything from pickles to okra to blue berry jam in Mason jars. Food lovers, get jiggy with the Jar! Capture that beautiful harvest and take it with you.

When John Landis Mason invented and patented the jar in 1858, that guy was thinking out side of the box. The molded glass Mason jar with its screw on metal band and rubber-ringed lid was originally designed for home canning and preserving. More than one hundred and fifty years later, it is still the best thing for this purpose. Some genius decided that the Mason jar would also be the perfect vehicle for to-go salads. Et voilà the Mason jar salad, the most brilliant food trend in the last decade, was born.

There is an art to making a Mason jar salad. It’s not your ordinary salad stuffed into a glass jar, the Mason jar salad is layered, like a torte. Here’s how it works:

  • Use a wide mouth quart-sized jar.
  • Layer 1: Salad dressing.
  • Layer 2: Add your heaviest, hardiest ingredients here. Tomatoes, cucumber, peppers  – if you’re lucky these ingredients will pickle slightly during the course of the day or week (you can make your Mason jar salad up tp five days in advance)
  • Layer 3: Not-so hardy vegetables likes beans, mushrooms, zucchini.
  • Layer 4: Pasta or grains (rice, quinoa, &C), if you’re using them.
  • Layer 5: Protein. Meat, hard-boiled eggs, cheese.
  • Layer 6: Greens, seeds, nuts.

This list is a modified version of Tammy Kresge’s Mason jar salad tutorial found here (she has some great photos, too): The idea is that the layers of vegetables, keep the greens and grains out of the dressing until you’re ready to eat the salad, at which point you should tip it into a big bowl and dig in. Try different combinations such as peppers and goat cheese, black beans and corn. Add fruits such as blue berries, strawberries, or mandarins. Experiment with spices and flavors – think Mexican, Greek, or Asian.

Here are a few reasons you should give the Mason jar salad a try:

  • It’s easy.
  • It’s beautiful.
  • It will save you money (bringing your own lunch is always less expensive that eating out).
  • You’ll likely lose weight (it is salad, after all).
  • You’ll likely eat better (you’ll want to make your salads colorful, and the more color you have in a salad, the more nutrition you’ll find).
  • Glass jars do not take on flavors like plastic does.
  • It’s fun.

Bon Appétit