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Canning Jars 101 – Everything You Need To Know And More!

by Gaye Levy, The Sleuth Journal:

When I recently did some organizing of my supplies, I was a bit surprised at the sheer number of canning jars I had placed into boxes. By the time I got to the 20th box, I admitted to myself that I am clearly a canning jar hoarder. That said, I don’t think I am in need of an intervention. Yet. On the contrary, I think everyone should own more versatile and beautiful canning jars.

Canning jars, also commonly referred to as Mason Jars, have a long and colorful history.

The History of Canning and Canning Jars
Canning as a method of preservation was first created during the time that Napoleon was in charge of the French Army. The army wanted a way to preserve food so that soldiers could be better nourished. The military offered a prize of 12,000 francs to the person who could come up with a solution to this issue.

It took 15 years for the prize to be awarded. After years of experimentation, Nicholas Appert, a Parisian candy maker and chef, won the prize in 1810 for his invention. The same year, he published the first book of food preservation, called L’Art de conserver les substances animales et végétales (or, in English, The Art of Preserving Animal and Vegetable Substances which you can view and download for free).

In the early 1800s, however, most people could not afford glass jars for food preservation, so they continued with their traditional methods until the Civil War, when John Mason invented the “Mason jar” with a reusable lid. Because of his ingenuity, to this day, many of us still refer to canning jars as “Mason jars” regardless of the brand.

Canning reached an all-time high during the 1940s, when the government declared canning the contents of your victory garden to be a wartime obligation. At that time, over 75% of American families preserved food by canning it, and over 12 million gardens had been planted across the country.

Once the war was over, however, people returned to shopping at the grocery store, and the number of people who canned dropped, and has continued to do so. Recently, though, as more people seek self-reliance due to climbing prices and terrible selections at the store, canning has experienced a bit of a renaissance and jars are back in style.

The Different Types of Canning Jars
The thing that makes jars so darned addictive is that they are as useful as they are lovely. Some antique jars come in shades of aqua, and some modern jars are available in blue, green, and purple.

Of course, one of the most frequent uses for jars is home preservation. Not only can you preserve pickles, jams, and jellies, but you can branch out into pressure canning to preserve low acid foods like meats, vegetables, and entire meals. (If you are like me and have not yet gotten up the nerve to try pressure canning, read this! I guarantee you’ll be ready to take the plunge.)

Whatever you’re preserving, you need to choose the right jar for the job. Not only do jars come in different colors, but they also come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. This handy infographic can help.

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4 comments to Canning Jars 101 – Everything You Need To Know And More!

  • Craig Escaped Detroit

    Bravo SGT. Keep us thinking and planning on ways to live without relying upon grocery stores, gas stations, banks, or the electrical grid, gas pipes, etc.

    Canning jars was a good little addition to all your other articles.

    There are a thousand different tips we can use for living, not just for survival, but every day stuff.

    Getting a few extra BUG mesh (head covers, or hat cover), for just a few bucks each, is what I’m going to order as soon as my next check arrives. I’ll probably also get a couple extra mosquito netting-bed covers/camping covers. (Because when we actually start using them, they’ll eventually get rips in them.

    When will we be using them? When the electrical power is gone, or the A/C unit dies and we have to sleep with the windows open, or we are stuck having to sleep outdoors for any reason.

    Having one of those big “screen tents”, makes sitting outside, picnic, yard sale, etc, very easy to enjoy when you’re not fighting the bees, flies and bugs.

    My back porch-deck-patio, is a LOT cooler on these SUNNY HOT DAYS ever since I glued/caulked a thick layer of FOAM BOARD INSULATION up underneath the sheet metal roofing!
    Now, it’s about the same temperature as sitting under a shade tree!!!

    AND, during the winter, if I enclose the patio with clear plastic, it becomes an instant green house and the insulated roof helps to hold more heat. 🙂

    Keep those useful tips coming at us.

  • Craig Escaped Detroit

    I’m gonna do an UNSAFE modification of my push mower. I’m gonna use my electric hand grinder, and cut out much of the front-leading edge of the mower deck.

    Why? So that I can more easily mow down TALL weeds (and probably kick out stones to the front).

    When I was a kid, we had a mower that the leading edge of the deck, had a saw-toothed pattern cut out, like shark’s teeth, exactly so the tall grass could get into the mower deck without being pushed down flat.
    I’ll just have to be careful, to NEVER run the mower TOWARD the house (just in case any stones or sticks get flung out the front end, I don’t want to break any house windows.)

    If you’ve seen those “string trimmer” type lawn mowers, they are the same “open, no deck” system. Or at least are quite similar to what I’m gonna do.

    I was watching some youtube videos (in Russian & cyrillic type fonts), can’t understand a single word, but watching their garden tricks and home made mods on their machines and tillers was great. I may extend the width of my tiller and add more tines, just like some of those Russian mods.

  • Minuteman

    I picked up an extra 36 cases of Ball wide mouth quart jars yesterday. Rural King has them on sale right now for $9.39 / case which is over a buck / case cheaper than ChinaMart, er I mean, Walmart. 12 pack boxes of wide mout lids are 2 bucks, which is 50 cents cheaper than ChinaMart. FYI.

    After the grocery store shelves are picked clean, you’ll still be able to buy livestock at the local auctions I figure. Best bet would be to head to the auction IMHO. Have a butchering party when you get home and process the meat in cans. I’m still eating salmon and venison that I canned 3 or 4 years ago with no issues / tastes fine.

    • Craig Escaped Detroit

      @Mm,
      Nice big supply you’ve got for yourself. (And if you go online, and buy a bunch of the TATTLER re-useable lids.. the ones with the red-rubber gaskets), you’ll not have to have quite so many disposable lids on hand.

      Advertised data claims you can reuse those gaskets up to 100 times, and yes, you can also buy extra, spare gaskets. I’d suggest putting a bunch of those gaskets into ziplock bags in the freezer to add many more years to their shelf life.

      The Tattler lids (and I think there is one other company who makes a reusable lid), cost is about $1 per lid.
      Instructions for them, is quite different than the metal “twang” lids. (I think the updated TAttler info, says something like “tighten the lid, and back it off by 1/4 INCH (rather than the metal lids that says “back it off by 1/4 ROTATION”).
      Having, even just 30 of the Tattlers on hand, will save your disposable stash by that amount each cycle.

      Use up the Tattlers right away, on your first batch of canning, and then dip into the metal lids when all your Tattlers are being used.

      I wonder if there’s some trick, to being able to get multiple uses from the metal lids? how to “re-coat” the thin little gasket material?

      It would be worthy of some experimentation. Perhaps, after the lids have been used, try “finger spreading” a thin, even layer of pure silicone caulking on them, letting it cure, and then reusing them.
      Getting the silicone extremely level is the hard part. Perhaps using a small, cut sheet of WAX PAPER can act as a “non stick” leveling layer, and just peel it off after the rubber has cured?

      I think about this stuff, because the ONE flaw, weakness of the Glass canning jars, is the limited supply of “one time” lids. Once they’re all used up, your jars are useless. So, being able to recycle those lids forever, would fix this problem.

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