Monday, February 3, 2014

Food In Jars

  We're fortunate to live in a house with a large collection of canning jars. They've been lined up on deep, weathered shelving units in the cellar for more years than any of us can remember.

There's quite a variety of jars in the collection down cellar. Many of them are  "lightning jars" (using a glass lid with a rubber gasket held in place by a metal clamp) in sizes ranging from half-pint to half-gallon. It is recommended that these not be used for canning these days but the rubber gaskets are still available.

With my limited research today, I expect that our jars would represent purchases made from the 1920s through the present. Many manufacturers have their insignias emblazoned on this collection of jars. It seems that Kerr jars were used more in the midwest and the west and Ball jars were more popular in the east. Square jars never gained popularity among housewives I read. I was also interested to read that the blue glass jars were manufactured until the late 1930s and took on their distinctive color from minerals in the sand and the amount of oxygen in the furnaces.
For those of you interested in learning more - perhaps to help date your own canning jar collections – a history of home canning in jars can be found here:

I've done my share of canning over the years and really enjoy it. There's something infinitely satisfying about prying the lid off a jar of home-canned anything! Sometimes I'm transported back to the moment I opened the lid on the canner, carefully directing the steam away from my face (thanks, Miss Goodrich!). Or maybe I remember pushing that huge Cherokee Purple tomato down amid the rosy redness of Brandywines or the deep redness of the Stupice tomatoes. Maybe I'm taken back to the time spent with my mother and mother-in-law snapping the ends from the green and wax beans enjoying the breezes on the back porch. Or maybe it's remembering the fiery peppers that went into the batch of Salsa I before I decided I really needed to wear food-preparation gloves when chopping them!

Sometimes my thoughts wander to what had been canned in those jars by others. Did that jar hold tomatoes grown by Papa Matteson? Maybe Auntie Snip and Grandma Metzger sat in the shade in the side yard and snapped beans that went into this jar. Did the jelly jar hold jam from blackberries picked on the fenceline?


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post!

Louise said...

Gooch beans, tomatoes, tomato chutney, wax beans, hot sauce, pickles, salsa.

Sharon said...

Love it! I got a collection of lightning jars at an auction a couple of years ago and use them for storing dehydrated foods (with the rubber gasket). I love the look!