We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
How to Identify the Embossed Symbols on a Glass Jar
The identification of glass markings on the bottom or sides of a jar can help you determine which company made it and when, where, and how it was made. All of this information helps determine the jar or bottle's relative value. But even if your jar turns out to be a common variety, discovering its history is still an interesting quest.
Start by looking up the logo or maker's mark. Then investigate some of the other marks on the jar that can give you a clue as to how it was made. Finally, refer to an antique bottle guide to determine if the shape, color and lid of your jar is particularly rare or valuable.
Assyrian Storage Jar - History
"A one-stop-shop for Mason jar accessories and how-to's."
We wanted a one-stop-shop for Mason jar accessories and how-to's and that's why MasonJars.com was born. Our marketplace is filled withsustainable home goods you can purchase directly from the makers!
We sell our own brand, reCAP, b ut some brands preferred us to be their approved distributor. S o here are the products from the brands you trust and fulfilled by Mason Jars Company.
Products are packaged and shipped from Erie, PA, and we make every effort to ensure your order is packaged securely and shipped promptly. Products typically ship within two business days via the United States Postal Service.
Our fulfillment center operates Monday-Friday and ships product 24-48 hours of order placement. The delivery estimate begins upon order fulfillment. Carriers are not guaranteeing on-time delivery at this time.
US customers, please notify us within 14 days from your order date if you do not receive your package.
Shipping costs are non-refundable for undelivered, unclaimed or returned packages unless there is a merchant error. We are not responsible for damages incurred during shipping or for packages delivered to an incorrect address. Orders typically ship within two business days.
For consumer protection, all orders are subject to review, including credit card authorization and address verification. As a result, on occasion there may be a slight delay in order processing your patience is greatly appreciated. While Mason Jars Company works closely with its vendors to ensure timely shipment of your order, various factors can impact the carrier's ability to deliver within the expected time frame, including your location, weather, the carrier, holidays, and other unforeseen events that may delay shipping time.
GOULD, INC., once a leading defense contractor in the Cleveland area, began doing business in Cleveland in 1945 as Gould Storage Battery. Known as the Gould-National Batteries Co. in 1950, it was located at 4500 Euclid Ave. The company, which had been established in 1918 in Minnesota, was primarily involved in automotive and industrial products until it purchased Cleveland's CLEVITE CORP. in 1969 in order to gain entry into the lucrative high-tech and ordnance markets. Clevite, dominant in the bearings and electronics markets, was a major supplier of ordnance and oceanographic equipment to the U.S. Navy. Renamed Gould, Inc., the firm changed the name of Clevite's Ordnance Division, located at 18901 Euclid, to the Ocean Systems Division, reflecting the integrated-technology company it hoped to achieve. Under the direction of William Laffer, Clevite's former president, Gould acquired new subsidiaries in electronic and computer technology, giving the company greater capability in producing underwater weapons systems, precision measurements, and controls in 1971, Gould was awarded a $1.5 billion U.S. Navy procurement contract for the computerized Mark 48 torpedo. In the 1980s Gould sold off its electrical and industrial interests to obtain additional capital, selling Clevite's old bearings division and plant for $500 million by 1981. In 1985, Gould, Inc., with headquarters in Rolling Meadows, IL, employed 21,000 worldwide and had sales of $1.4 billion, most of which came from its electrical and electronics products and components, and its defense systems. Gould employed over 2,500 at its Ocean Systems, Foil Recording Systems & Controls Division in 1985 and was Greater Cleveland's largest defense contractor.
In 1987, Nippon Mining and Metals, Japan's largest non-ferrous metals smelting company, acquired Gould Inc. for over $1 billion. While the acquisition made Nippon Mining into a major electronics company, it sold off Gould's Ocean Systems Division to WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORP., leaving Gould with no defense interests. Investing in the growing worldwide demand for copper foil, used in the production of circuit boards, Nippon Mining relocated Gould's headquarters to Eastlake, OH, the site of its foil production plant. Following the merger of Nippon Mining with Kyodo Oil Company in 1992, resulting in the formation of Nikko Kyodo Co., the new conglomerate invested $150 million in Gould in an effort to restructure the Eastlake-based company and renovate its copper foil production facilities. In 1993, after posting operating losses for consecutive years, Gould Inc. was liquidated, falling victim to declining copper foil prices and inflated estimates of the demand for copper foil. Nikko Kyodo dispersed Gould's business among two new companies: Gould Electronics Inc., based in Eastlake, to produce copper foil and Gould Instrument Systems Inc., based in Valley View, OH, to manufacture test and measurement equipment. The same year Nikko Kyodo became Japan Energy Corporation.
Types of mason jars
Whether you call them “mason jars,” “canning jars,” or “Ball” jars, they come in many different sizes and shapes. Before we can figure out which types of mason jars are right for our project, we need to learn how to speak “jar.”
Jars are categorized in 2 key ways:
Jars within each category also come in a variety of shapes and colors. Some have brand names and images on them while others feature plain smooth sides.
Come meet a line-up of some of the most common jars, with photos by Fresh Preserving.
4 oz. / quarter-pint
Mini storage/spice jar Jelly jar
Eco-Friendly Uses for GEM Jars
GEM jars are an easy go-to for packing up leftovers. They are also great containers for ‘brown bag’ lunches, picnics and even taking some foods to potlucks. For sure, using a jar adds a little extra weight, but jars are the wash and wear, easy care eco-friendly choice. Jars nudge us to see our way clear of plastics and help reduce unnecessary waste.
By converting our storage habits to GEM jars and other jar types, we are doing our part, at least we are taking a step, towards saving our planet. We also have a standing case for the ‘need’ to swing by the thrifts! Don’t you agree?
Assyrian Storage Jar - History
How Old is That Thar Jar?
One aspect of evaluating pottery, in my case Southern pottery, is determining its relative age. Most collectors know this by experience. But I get questions from new collectors often that basically ask, how do I know if a particular piece of pottery I have is old? My answer is a question in return. When you walk in the woods, how can you tell a pine tree from an oak? My point is that to identify pine trees from oaks, you could first learn that pine trees are green year round. Then you build on your knowledge from there.
What follows is a couple of good first steps to help identify the age of Southern pottery.
FORM. Early on, Southern pottery was ovoid. Within a few short years it became more bulbous.
The first potters were English trained. These potters followed the English tradition of ovoid-shaped pottery. Later, as others became involved in turning pottery in Edgefield, notably Germans and African slaves, the shape became more bulbous. Bulbous is rounder in the middle as opposed to ovoid, which is more rounded toward the shoulders. Bulbous pottery soon replaced ovoid pottery after a short period. Then, over time, the sides began to flatten out from bulbous to rounded and then straight sided to finally tooled shoulder or stacker jugs.
Why did these changes in form occur? There are a number of reasons. Before the Civil War, the plantation economy required large storage vessels, 10, 20, even 40 gallons in size. Bulbous pottery could hold more than ovoid, therefore, bulbous pottery became the norm. After the Civil War, these large storage vessels were no longer needed with the demise of the plantations. Potters produced smaller containers like churns and canning jars for the local farmers and merchants. These forms tended to be less bulbous, but still had somewhat rounded sides.
Technology and transportation also improved towards the turn of the century. You could ship more jugs in a box if the sides of the jugs were straight. Large-scale potteries out West and up North were producing straight-sided jugs and jars and shipping them all over the country. These industrial-scaled potteries employed machinery. The machines could easily produce straight-sided jugs with unskilled labor.
With a flood of pottery from outside the South, the cost of pottery in the marketplace fell. The local potters had to cut costs or go out of business. This generally happened earlier in the urban potteries around cities like Atlanta where competitive goods could be easily shipped in from many miles away. In relatively more remote areas, the competition from the outside came much later so the styles did not change until later, if at all.
Another factor was the way potteries were run. After the plantation potteries ceased to exist, many of the potters began to migrate, finding work in whatever shop would hire them. These itinerant potters were paid by the piece or gallon. Because of this, they turned out pieces quicker and with less care. The straight-sided jug or jar was easier and quicker to make. Quantity became more important than quality.
Technology also brought cheaper or better alternatives to traditional stoneware. This included mason jars and refrigeration. This also decreased the demand for local stoneware, which increased pressure to lower costs.
DETAIL. The better the apparent workmanship in the stoneware, the earlier the piece. As stated above, because of competition and technology, local potters had to make their ware faster and cheaper. Frills such as decorating the pottery became less common. Add to this the compounding factor that the Southern economy was ruined after the Civil War. The locals could not afford extravagance. This is not only evident in lack of decoration, but can also be seen in the reduction of the general quality of the workmanship as well. How much care was put into making and attaching the handle? How graceful is the shape? How delicate was the workmanship in the shoulder, collar or rim? Pay attention to the fine details or lack thereof. The earlier pieces tend to have better workmanship.
A Fancy Handle on a North Carolina Jar and a Catawba Valley large two-handled jug with extraordinary workmanship.
GLAZE. Alkaline glaze is the defining characteristic of Southern pottery. It is what makes it distinctive from other pottery and very collectable. But there are other glazes on Southern pottery, most notably salt glaze and slip glaze. There are regions in the South where pottery has a long tradition of salt glazing. This is true in the Piedmont area of North Carolina.
What began as an experiment quickly became a unique Southern tradition in stoneware manufacture. Using alkaline glaze on Southern stoneware is first attributed to Abner Landrum who borrowed the idea from the ancient Chinese. The alkaline glazing is believed to have first begun at the Pottersville pottery site in Edgefield South Carolina in the early 1800s. Alkaline glazing of stoneware spread to other potteries in Edgefield and other locations of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and even as far west as Texas in a very few short years.
Why did alkaline glazes come about? Alkaline glazing avoided the dependence on expensive, hard-to-get salt and could be made out of materials found locally in abundance. Salt glazing remained predominant up north. Alkaline glaze posed no health hazard, as did the lead-based glazes. There was a dawning awareness at that time that lead glazes, very popular up till then, were actually dangerous. Stoneware was primarily used to store food. The acids naturally occurring in some foods would dissolve the lead from lead-based glaze, allowing it to be absorbed into the food. When consumed over a long period of time, this tainted food could cause lead poisoning.
What does glaze have to do with age? Again, as a generalization, alkaline glaze was used extensively in many Southern potteries from the early 1800s until the end of the century. Although it could be made out of readily available materials, it was a time-consuming process. When competition increased, the local potters began to look for alternative methods that were less time consuming. In some cases, they switched to salt glazing, which had become somewhat more affordable as the country's transportation system grew more dependable.
But many potteries switched to slip glazes. Slip glazes were not as attractive or as durable as alkaline glazes, but they could be bought by the bagful or could be easily mixed using local clays. By the turn of the century, most potteries were using slip glaze, especially in the more urban areas. Remember, this is a generalization. Some areas in the South never used alkaline glaze while other areas rarely used slip or salt glazing, even after 1900.
MARKS. If a piece of pottery is marked and you know whose mark it is, you can attribute the age of the pot to sometime during that potter's (or pottery's) active period. The marks may clearly be a potter's name and even location, or the marks may be more cryptic, like slashes at the top or bottom. It could be initials or small symbols like horseshoe-shaped marks, circles, crosses, etc . Some people collect nothing but signed or marked pottery, in part because it reassures them that what they are collecting is in fact old. Marked pottery also helps in dating similar, unmarked wares.
IMPERFECTIONS and VARIATIONS. Older pottery has more imperfections and variations. Not really flaws, but subtle differences in the finished product. In older pottery, the clay would always be hand dug. The glazes would always be homemade. That means that the clay would have all manner of things mixed into it. Even though the potter would process the clay (some more than others), it would still have bits of rock or flecks of minerals or even organic substances in it, causing color and texture variations in the glaze or on the surface. The finished product, the unique combination of clay, glaze, and firing, could vary dramatically from piece to piece and firing to firing.
Over the course of the 20th century, commercial clays and glazes became readily available. Large wood-fired kilns were replaced with smaller, more dependable, temperature-controlled gas or even electric kilns. The overall effect of this technological shift is a reduction in the variety and amount of imperfections and variations that can be seen in the pottery. These variations not only help in judging the age of pottery, but sometimes they give added interest as well.
There are potters who make pottery the old way, even today. Digging their own clay, mixing their own recipe glazes, and firing the wares in the old wood-fired kilns.
WEAR. Finally, I will mention wear. If it is old, it should have some wear. Keep in mind that alkaline glazes are very tough and can, even after 150 years, look like the day they were made. Even so, you should still be able to detect some wear. There should be some wear around the base edge. You should feel no or few sharp points running your hand over the surface of the piece.
There are plenty of exceptions to the above generalizations. The two handled jug cited above as an example of exceptional workmanship was from the shop of Samuel Propst. He made pottery up through the first quarter of the 20th century in Catawba Valley North Carolina. So this is not a particularly early piece as the quality might suggest. Why?
Samuel Propst ran his own shop and made all his own ware. He obviously took particular pride in his work. It also helped that he was in an area that rewarded his workmanship by paying a little extra to buy his pottery when cheaper alternatives existed.
Form, detail, glaze, marks, imperfections or variations, and wear are some keys to look for when estimating the age of Southern pottery. Becoming more familiar with these concepts should help the novice collector.
Each area has its own distinct past that often will defy simple generalizations. The South has a wide and diverse area of pottery to collect from. With a 200-year history covering multiple states, there is plenty to explore and learn while collecting pottery. Good hunting!
Pete Wingard is the owner of Mud, Sweat and Tears Southern Antique Stoneware at 216 Heatherdown Rd., Decatur, Ga. He is available by appointment at 404-378-9471 or [email protected] Visit his website at www.mudsweatandtears.com .
All photos courtesy,
Bulbous jars held more, but weren't efficient for transporting. They pre-date rounded and stacker jugs.
Early decorated Edgefield,
Detail, decoration or a fancy
handle point to an earlier jar.
These slashes help date this jar to pre-Civil War.
E.L. Stork, Orange, Ga., jar, ca. 1910. Marks make dating easier.
B.S. Salter mark, ca. 1900.
"L" mark from unknown potter in Crawford or Washington Co., Ga.
Horseshoe with slash.
Slaves often marked their work
(left) Tooled shoulder or stacker jugs were created for shipping.
Ca. 1860 salt-glazed
North Carolina jar.
Rounded jar shapes followed bulbous jars.
Generally, the better the
workmanship, the earlier the jar, such as this exquisite two-
handled Catawba Valley jug.
Why bail-type jars are currently recommended against
The University of Wyoming Extension Service says,
Jars requiring a zinc cap and jar rubber or jars requiring a glass lid, wire bail, and jar rubber have not been recommended since 1989 because there is no definitive way to determine if a vacuum seal is formed.”  Griffith, Patti. The time is ripe for summer melons. University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service. From series “Canner’s Corner: Enjoying Summer’s Bounty.” Issue Two. MP-119-2. Accessed March 2015
Old jars and closures have a nostalgic appeal many people like however, they are not considered the best type of jars and closures for home canning. Jars requiring a zinc cap and jar rubber or jars requiring a glass lid, wire bail, and jar rubber have not been recommended since 1989. There is no definitive way to determine if a vacuum seal has formed. This is one reason why the two-piece vacuum cap is superior to older style closures.”  https://www.freshpreserving.com/tools/faqs
Weck, a major German preserving jar manufacturer, says they won’t provide a mechanical bail system on purpose to ensure that bad jars will unseal:
Is there any other reason why WECK does not produce home-canning jars with mechanical sealing devices? Yes, and it’s a reason of utmost importance: Your personal safety. In case the contents of a jar should spoil for any reason the gases formed by spoilage inside the jar must be free to push up the lid so that it lies loosely on top of the jar. This warning signal is so clear and strikingly plain that it is best suited to protect you and your family from the dangers of consuming spoiled canned food unknowingly. For this extremely important reason of personal safety, a reason which is still more important than the practical ones mentioned above, WECK has consistently refused to produce jars with mechanical wire bail seals for home-canning purposes. In case of spoilage, these mechanical seals cannot produce the strikingly clear warning signal of the loose lid.  Weck canning notes. Accessed March 2015.
The US taxman doesn’t even officially recognize these jars any more, for import purposes, as “preserving jars”:
Glass articles with wire bails and glass or porcelain caps or lids were considered not classifiable as ‘preserving jars of glass” as their physical characteristics do not allow them to be recommended for home canning use.”  Department of the Treasury Customs Service. Tariff Classification of Imported Glassware. Federal Register Volume 61, Number 2 (Wednesday, January 3, 1996). FR Doc No: 95-31593. Pages 223-229. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1996-01-03/html/95-31593.htm
Preserving and Canning in Food History
Food preservation has been a necessity for survival from the beginning of time and is a testimony to the ingenuity of people. In ancient times many forms of natural preservation were used. Food could be frozen in areas where temperatures dropped below freezing for the winter months. In warm climates the sun and wind were used to dry food. To preserve food at above freezing temperatures, caves, root cellars, buried caches and the like were used. As various chemicals were discovered and chemical reactions were noticed, salt, smoke, oil or fat, and fermentation were added to the preservation repertoire. Later sugar, vinegar and alcohol were used as preservatives.
In British Columbia, food preservation methods depended on the climatic zone. First Nations people were able to freeze (northern BC), some were able to wind-dry (Fraser Canyon and South Okanagan), some were able to smoke and dry food (along the Pacific coast), and so on. Often they shared their methods with the settlers. For example, Ethel R. Wright in the British Columbia Women’s Institutes Centennial Cookbook (1958) describes how pioneer women watched First Nations women and “learned to smoke and dry fish and meat, by placing it on willow racks above a fire..[and how] to dry berries” (p. 57).
Before commercialization of food preservation, people spent a lot of time storing up food for winter. According to Barss and Kerr (1979):
On the homestead our year had five seasons. The fifth season was the time for canning, drying, pickling, and preserving the food supply for the winter.
Cabbage was shredded, and layered with coarse salt in crocks to turn into sauerkraut. My mother also did green beans and corn the same way. Quart sealers of wild blueberries, raspberries, and saskatoons were put up. We made jelly and jam from the cranberries and chokecherries, sometimes adding rhubarb or crab apple to them. The dill pickles were put in crocks and the beet pickles into sealers. Butter was packed in jars, and a brine was poured over the top to keep it fresh.
The peas were dried in the sun on an old clean sugar sack. We beat off the pods and stored the peas in sacks to be used for “baked peas”. The green beans had their ends nipped off and were strung on a thread across the kitchen to dry before being packed away in sacks.
When a pig was butchered everything but his “squeal” was used. Homesteaders had a brine barrel in the cellar where the ham, bacon, and hocks were cured. Sometimes the pork was sliced and fried out. The cooked meat was packed into crocks and covered with hot fat to seal it. It would keep for months. The trimmings were ground, sliced, and stuffed into casings for sausages. (p. 28)
The concept of preserving foods by cooking them and sealing them in a container is very old, but sealing methods were not very reliable. Pioneer methods for making jars for canning indicate great ingenuity and likelihood of failure: “Jars were made from bottles – a piece of wool was tied around the neck, soaked in coal oil and then burned off and the bottle was then thrust in cold water, and off came the neck, leaving a fine jam jar. The jars were sealed with a round of white paper dipped in brandy, then with a larger round dipped in white of egg which dried and made an air tight cover” (Wright, 1958, p. 57).
The age of modern canning techniques dawned in 1809 when French chemist Nicolas Appert successfully used sealed glass jars, the contents of which had been thoroughly cooked in a water bath, to create portable and potable food. But it was not until 1864 when Louis Pasteur discovered the relationship between microorganisms and food spoilage/illness that the process was understood. The boiling temperature and acidic nature of food made the boiling water bath process safe for acid foods but the risk of deadly food poisoning in processing low acid food such as vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, etc. was very high.
In the early 18 th century a French physicist and mathematician named Denis Papin invented a machine he called a digester that could achieve temperatures higher than boiling. Later the machine was perfected and a pressure retort (canner) was patented. It was not until the 1920s that the significance of this method regarding the deadly bacteria Clostridium botulinum was recognized and pressure canning became the only safe method for canning low-acid foods. C. botulinum bacteria are heat-resistant, can survive boiling temperatures, and can grow in a moist, oxygen-free environment. Home canning provides the perfect conditions for this bacteria to multiply and produce the toxins that are potentially fatal. Therefore proper processing is essential.
The invention of the pressure canner and improvements in jars and vacuum sealing lids have made home canning much safer and more efficient.
Decorative glass jar with clamp lid
In 1882, Henry William Putnam of Bennington, Vermont, invented a fruit jar that used a glass lid and a metal clamp to hold the lid in place. Many of these jars are still around and they are sold today for decorative purposes that specifically state “not for home canning”.
Decorative jars are not for home canning
In 1858, John Mason invented a glass jar with a screw-on thread molded into its top, and a lid with a rubber seal. He sold off his rights to the jar to several different companies such as Ball and Kerr. More recently Bernardin (which had a Canadian division) started to produce Mason jars and most canning jars are still referred to as Mason jars. A few examples from my cupboard:
Ball, Kerr and Bernardin jars are all made in the United States but you might find a few Mason jars made in Canada similar to this one below.
It is made by Consumers Glass Company. By decoding the information on the bottom, according to Lockhard (2014), this jar was made in Lavington, BC (dot to the left of the logo) in January/February (single vertical line) 1973 (3 to the right of the logo).
A breakthrough in home canning came when a man named Landsberger from San Francisco developed the idea of a metal lid with a permanently attached gasket. Alexander Kerr used this idea to create a metal disk with a gasket that could be held in place by a screw on ring and the modern canning lid was born. Ball also began to produce lids like this. Now the most common brand available in Canada is Bernardin.
Boiling water bath canning is safe only for acid foods (most fruits, tomatoes, pickles). Pressure canning is a must for all low acid foods (vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, soups, stews). Processing methods and times are constantly being revised and updated based on current research. Currently, it is recommended that tomatoes which have been previously classified as an acid food and can be processed in a boiling water canner be acidified (add lemon juice or vinegar to the jar to ensure sufficient acidity).
Cold pack tomatoes (canned using the swish method where raw tomatoes are placed in the jar and then swished until they are covered in their own juice) need to be processed in a boiling water bath canner for 85 minutes not the 35 minutes often mentioned in older publications. Jam and jellies should be put into Mason jars with lids and rings and vacuum sealed in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes (no more wax). Pumpkin which is low acid should be pressure canned but in chunks covered with water. Pumpkin puree is just too dense to safely can even using a pressure canner. When you make your pumpkin pie, you simply drain and then puree. It is best to use updated information about processing, even when using heritage recipes.
Pressure-canned yellow beans
Some historians believe that food preservation was not just for survival. It also has cultural, social, and economic significance. I preserve for many reasons: to carry on the traditions of my mother and grandmothers to be able to eat local fruits, vegetables, and fish out of season to be able to control the amount of sugar, salt and additional ingredients just for the pure enjoyment and satisfaction of preserving my own food and to enjoy the company of others when we can together. There is nothing better than serving home made pickles, or pies made from canned cherry pie filling, or peach upside down cake made with your own canned peaches, or slathering home made huckleberry jam on a fresh bagel, or making that special dish made with canned salmon, or opening a savory relish or chutney to accompany the main dish….
Barss, B. & Kerr, S. (1979). The fifth season. Canadian Prairie Homesteaders. Calgary, AB:Barker. Retrieved from www.ourroots.ca/
Bernardin (2008). Bernardin guide to home preserving. Canada: Bernardin Ltd.
Hart-Davis, A. (Ed.). (2012). Engineers from the Great Pyramids to the pioneers of space travel. London: DK Books. p. 106. (Denis Papin).
Lockart, B. (2014). Consumers Glass Co. https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/ConsumersGlass.pdf
Mescher, V. (n.d.). In a pickle! Types of food preservation in the 19th century. www.raggedsoldier.com/food_preservation.pdf
Nummer, B. A. (2002). 2002. Historical origins of food preservation. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia, National Center for Home Food Processing and Preservation. nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets/food_pres_hist.html
The Brief History of Canning Food. https://www.thespruce.com/brief-history-of-canning-food-1327429
Wright, E. R. (1958). Home Economics. British Columbia Women’s Institutes Centennial Cook Book (pp. 56-58), Vancouver, Canada: Mitchell Press.
The Problem With Mason Jars
The Mason jar is a mainstay in every zero-waste, plastic-free, home-cooking, tree-hugging household these days. Beloved by hipsters for mixing cocktails and schlepping cappuccinos, by home canners for preserving garden produce, by DIYers and Pinterest fans for organizing and decorating, the Mason jar truly is a celebrity workhorse of the 21st century.
Despite its seemingly limitless abilities, however, the Mason jar does have some downsides, as pointed out by Life Without Plastic in a recent newsletter.
First, you know that white undercoating on the lids? It contains a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA), or, where advertised as BPA-free, a substitute called BPS. This coating, while meant to be protective, is not entirely safe. These chemicals are known hormone disruptors that leach into food that comes into contact with it, and even the BPA substitutes are not viewed favorably. You can read more about the concerns surrounding BPA and BPS in a report published by the Environmental Working Group.
Second, the screw-top ring is made of tin-plated steel that is not water-resistant and, therefore, prone to rust if it comes into contact with moisture or food. This seems a rather poor design for a jar that’s often used to carry liquids.
The good news is, there are alternatives out there. Yes, you heard that right — it’s possible to improve upon the exalted Mason jar. Here are some suggestions.
1. Stainless Steel Jar Lids
Treehugger / Lesly Junieth
It is possible to buy stainless steels lids and screw bands to avoid rusting. That way, you don’t have to replace your collection of jars. Life Without Plastic writes:
“These lids are made from high quality 304 stainless steel with a food-grade silicone gasket attached to the lid. This gasket helps to preserve your food better as they create a tighter seal. However, these lids are not to be used for canning because they do not pop. Instead use them for bulk shopping, takeout or leftover storage.”
Treehugger / Lesly Junieth
2. Glass Jars with Bamboo Lids
Treehugger / Lesly Junieth
These beautiful jars come with bamboo lids and silicone rings that give a good seal — not entirely leakproof, but fine for transporting thicker foods, or storing in the fridge. The lid should be removed if the jar is put in the microwave. They come in two sizes — 18 and 10 ounces.
3. Weck Jars
Treehugger / Lesly Junieth
Weck jars are a popular alternative to Mason jars, made in Germany with glass lids and rubber sealing rings. They can be used for canning, although this method is not approved by the USDA. (This does not mean it’s dangerous, but simply that “there has never been a study funded and performed by the USDA or extension service on these jars," via Living Homegrown.) The jars are attractively shaped, come in multiple sizes, and have a lid that’s held on by stainless steel clips.
4. Le Parfait Jars
Treehugger / Lesly Junieth
Made in France, these pretty jars are similar to Weck in that they have glass lids and rubber seals, but the lids are held on permanently with a metal hinge and clasp, so no missing pieces. They come in a range of sizes, and are the favorite of zero-waste queen Bea Johnson.
5. Tattler Lids
Tattler is a U.S. company that makes hard plastic reusable canning lids with rubber (latex-free) seals. Using these eliminates the issue with BPA, but you still use a metal screw band to hold it in place. According to A Gardener’s Table, the plastic is made from “a substance called acetal copolymer. This plastic contains no BPA, and it’s approved by the USDA and FDA for contact with food, including meat, provided the food doesn’t contain 15 percent or more alcohol.” The company has a lifetime guarantee.
6. Quattro Stagioni Jars
Treehugger / Lesly Junieth
These jars have been made in Italy since the 1970s and feature a single-piece, screw-on lid that’s entirely BPA-free. They’re easy to use: fill a sterilized jar, screw on the lid, and process in boiling water. You can tell it’s been processed when the center is pulled down and they’re easy to open by unscrewing however, it's important to note that this kind of canning is not officially approved by the USDA. The English translation of the manufacturer Bormioli Rocco’s website does not contain nearly as much information as the Italian version.