This was a major breakthrough because it meant summer vegetables and fruits could be preserved for the winter months.
Could Your Old Mason Jars Be Valuable? Check For These Tell-Tale Signs
When you refer to a Mason jar, you are talking about a type of jar with screw threads at the mouth. There were once many different manufacturers of this patented design. Ball Mason jars can be roughly dated using their logo.
The two Ball jars are the right are dated by the lettering and underscore marking. These jars do not have a screw threads and therefore are not Mason jars. Although I have not come across them, Mason jars come in many different hues — green, pink, red, amber, yellow, cobalt blue, black and milk glass. Some of these colors are very rare and quite valuable. This means that any authentic blue Ball Mason jar is at least 77 years old.
The blue color was partially caused by the minerals of the sand on the shores of Lake Michigan. While the bands are reusable, the lids are intended for single use when canning. Largely supplanted by other products and methods for commercial canning, such as tin cans and plastic containers, glass jars and metal lids are still commonly used in home canning. Mason jars are also called Ball jars , in reference to the Ball Corporation , an early and prolific manufacturer of glass canning jars; fruit jars for a common content; and glass canning jars a generic term reflecting their material and purpose.
Lightning fruit jars , another type of Mason jar, were not as common as the screw-thread version, but they were popular for home canning in the late nineteenth 19th and early twentieth 20th centuries. In the United States, standard-size Mason jars are made of soda-lime glass and come in two sizes: They are also produced in a variety of volumes, including cup half-pint , pint , quart , and half- gallon. Among the most common U. Jarden Corporation, based in Boca Raton, Florida ,  retains the license to use the Ball and Kerr registered trademarks on home-canning products as a part of its branded consumables business.
In home canning, food is packed into the mason jar, leaving some empty "head space" between the level of food and the top of the jar. The lid is placed on top of the jar with the integral rubber seal resting on the rim. A band is screwed loosely over the lid, allowing air and steam to escape. The jar is heat sterilized in boiling water or steam and the lid is secured.
The jar is then allowed to cool to room temperature. The cooling of the contents creates a vacuum in the head space, pulling the lid into tight contact with the jar rim to create a hermetic seal. Once cooled, the band is removed to prevent residual water between the jar threads and the lid from rusting the band. If the jar seal is properly formed, internal vacuum will keep the lid tightly on the jar.
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Most metal lids used today are slightly domed to serve as a seal status indicator. The vacuum in a properly sealed mason jar pulls the lid down to create a concave-shaped dome. An improper or failed seal or microbial growth will cause the dome to pop upward. French chef Nicolas Appert invented the method of preserving food by enclosing it in sealed containers.
Among the earliest glass jars used for home canning were wax sealers, named in reference to the sealing wax that was poured into a channel around the lip to secure a tin lid. This process, which was complicated and error-prone, became popular in the late s or early s and was commonly used to seal fruit jars from the early s until about The wax sealing process was largely the only one available until other sealing methods were developed,  and widely used into the early s.
By far the most popular and longest used form of closure for the glass canning jar was a zinc screw-on cap , the precursor to today's screw-on lids. It usually had a milk-glass liner, but some of the earliest lids may have had transparent glass liners. Since they were made in such quantity and used for such long periods, many of them have survived to the present day. Between and , many other patents were issued for Mason jar improvements and closures. The court acknowledged that Mason had invented the jar in , but he did not apply for a patent for an improved version of the fruit jar until In the meantime, several others had patented designs and Mason had known these jars were being produced and sold.
The court ruled that Mason's delay in protecting his patent indicated he had abandoned his invention in the intervening years between and and had forfeited his patent. The court's decision allowed other manufacturers to patent, produce, and sell glass jars for canning. About , Ball eliminated the "dropped a" and the underscore altogether and used this style for about 10 more years. In the early 30's they added the underscore back to the name, sometimes connected, sometimes not.
Ball discontinued the use of their famous "Ball blue" glass in They had produced and controlled this color since the late 's, and it was caused by the minerals in the sand they used in their glass batch which came from the shores of Lake Michigan and also the amount of oxygen used in the furnaces to melt the glass. The "rounded-square" shape was adopted in as a way to save glass.
English measurements ounces and cups on the side started about Ball was the first fruit jar manufacturer to do this. The logo changed from "open B" to "closed B" in the closed B style, the bottom of the rounded stroke of the B touches the upstroke about It is to be noted that there are some Ball jars known that do not fit within this chronology. Between and , Ball bought out several different glass companies and in many cases, altered these companies old moulds by either simply adding the Ball name or reworking the other company's name to where it looked like Ball.
These script styles vary from one company to another and are usually not considered as changes in the Ball name, but merely reworked moulds. Also, it is sometimes impossible to date Ball jars real accurately simply because of the overlap of script styles and different machines they used during the same time frame.
And sometimes we can get pretty specific concerning when a certain jar was produced. Ball collectors can generally narrow a range down a bit more by the machine a particular jar was produced on. All dates are to be considered approximate, but close, based on known facts and factors. I am frequently asked questions regarding reproductions of Ball jars.
There are not many. They are not a true Ball blue color, generally lighter. All of the examples I have seen have either a 3 or an odd shaped 9 on their base. There are three ways to differentiate these from authentic jars though. On the reproductions, these seams will be offset from one another right at the neck. On the authentic ones, there will be a circular rough looking scar on the base indicative of manufacture on the Owen's machine. The reproductions do not have this scar.
And the repress are "usually" just a wee bit taller than the originals, but height is not always a good indicator. Click HERE to see comparison pics of these half pint reproductions. These jars all have an eagle embossed on the back side and are not to be confused with the older blue Ball IDEAL jars produced from to The Bicentennial issue Ideals will have a 75, 76, or 77 embossed on their base, indicative of the year of manufacture.
And there are also clear examples of this Ball IDEAL with the eagle on the back side being produced in Mexico since in very large sizes; 1, 2 and 4 gallon. One thing that tends to confuse non jar collectors is how to describe a jar's size.
More Than You Probably Ever Cared to Know about Ball Jars (a.k.a. Mason Jars)
Many people just guess at it instead of checking it to be sure. The correct way is to fill the jar completely with water, full to overflowing and measure it, as liquid capacity is the standard glass manufacturers had to go by after about In other words, a jar had to hold what it was advertised or sold as and most conform to this capacity very accurately.
Even though one would not fill a jar that full for canning, that was the most efficient way to standardize the industry.