Sunday, September 29, 2013

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song

above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." ~J.R.R. Tolkien

There was a time when food was valued so much that it was preserved for the winter when the harvest was completed.  Think about the times when people were not working 24/7...when they had time to can food or make jams or sauces from scratch.  Perhaps the concept is romantic, or women did it out of need like during WW II.
But, today the canning jar functions in a whole new world even though there are people out there who do can regularly.  If you prefer the grocery aisles, they are great for storing food like pasta, rice, or dried beans.  Ball has reproduced their blue jars in the pint size in honor of the 100th anniversary of the first "Perfect Mason" jar.  From their web site...

  • Limited edition 100th anniversary of the Ball brothers’ “Perfect Mason” blue jar
  • Maintains same quality and structure as current regular-mouth pint jars
  • Made in USA

  • They are selling that case of 6 for $12.99.  The Ball Corporation owned and operated many plants, but in 1993, Ball spun off the jar business to Alltrista Corporation (which is now Jarden Corp.).  Since 1993 the Alltrista Corporation has been manufacturing the Ball glass canning jars. They also make Kerr, Bernardin (Canadian)  and Golden Harvest canning jars.

    The canning jar dates to 1858 when an inventor and tinsmith from New York City, John L. Mason, invented the mason jar. He invented a machine that could cut threads into lids, which made it practical to manufacture a jar with a reusable, screw-on, lid. This was the  difference between his design and predecessors, the sealing mechanism:  a glass container with a thread molded into its top and a zinc lid with a rubber ring.  The rubber created the seal, and the threaded lid maintained it.  The jar included his patent: "Mason’s Patent November 30th. 1858."
    Ball took over as a more common name since they were the prolific manufacturer of these jars.  For example, check how their logo has evolved...
    These jars are made from soda-lime glass which is relatively inexpensive, chemically stable, reasonably hard, and extremely workable, because it is capable of being re-softened and re-melted numerous times and is ideal for recycling.
    Colored jars were considered better for canning use, as they block some light from reaching the food, which helps to retain flavor and nutritional value longer. More rarely, jars will turn up in amber, and occasionally in darker shades of green. Rarer still are cobalt blues, blacks, and milk glass jars. Some unscrupulous dealers will irradiate jars to bring out colors not original to the jar.

    Another manufacturer was Hazel-Atlas Glass Company, in business from the late 1800s until 1964.
    This was called the "Strong Shoulder" and was similar to the mason jar. The cracking was a common problem with shoulder seal jars.

    Sometimes you find an odd is a Mom's Mason Jar...this was produced in the 1970s by the Home Products Company in Columbus, Ohio.
    A recent interest in the jars has driven up prices even at the flea markets.  They have become a common feature at the country weddings.  But, they are part of our past, and they really do make one think of times gone by...what was in that jar...what family enjoyed those stewed tomatoes or peaches on a dark cold snowy night in January...
    for as Molly Wizenberg write in her book A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table:

    "When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone.  Whether we know it or not, none of us is.  We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten.  Food is never just food."


    1 comment:

    denise said...

    ilove the blue jars. i both the old and the new ones.