This picture shows some of the older jars from my canning cupboard. On the left, you see a blue jar that isn't as old as it looks. It was amongst the jars my mother-in-love gave me many years ago from her fruit room (that's what she called her basement canning storage room). The blue jar is a commemorative of the bicentennial in 1976, so it's not old, but it's unique and I use it a lot to hold garden flowers. The next bottle to the right is a honey jar. It has a beehive on it and says "Pound Pure Honey." My boys found it while out riding horseback near an old sheep camp spot in our pasture. They also found the short jar there that says Hormel. Does anyone ever remember opening a jar of Hormel? Not me. The middle jar says "Magic Mason Jar" and it has a trademark sign near it. Have you ever heard of such a thing? The jar on the very right side says "Brockway Sur Grip Mason." I've never heard of that brand of canning jar either. I thought Mason Jars were like Ball or Kerr canning jars, but evidently there were many brands of canning jars to be had. I have one that isn't pictured called an Atlas jar and several jars that have no distinguishing marks on them at all. They are just clear, regular-mouth quart jars. Again, all of these came from my mother-in-law's stash. I'm so glad she gave them to me because whenever I drag them out, they make me think about her. I wonder about the past. I wonder if she and her mother or mother-in-law put up preserves in them?
I owe a great debt of gratitude to my mother-in-love (her name was Hazel) because she taught me a whole lot about putting-up. We canned crab apple juice, jellies, pickles and canned beef, and together, we used some of these very jars to do it. I still own and use the pressure canner we always used to seal the jars, and I have some of the pickle recipes and pressure canning booklets that were handed down to me. Later on I experimented on my own with book Hazel gave me, The Ball Blue Book. In my opinion, it's the best canning book out there. My copy is a 1987 model which is very worn and well-loved. Now there is a Ball Complete Book of Canning which I bought my daughter-in-love. It's a 400+ page monster. I'm sure it's full of good things, but I prefer my slimmer 112 page book.
Something I've noticed about new jars these days is that they tend to crack more easily. I have put up a lot of tomatoes, applesauce, juice and salsa in the old jars and rarely have I had a jar crack during the processing, but the newer jars I have bought recently and used tend to crack. I'll bet I had a half dozen cracked during applesauce making this past fall. I wonder if the glass is tempered differently nowadays? You'd think with the technology we have today that new canning jars would really be top-notch. Have any of you had troubles with new jars cracking when processing under heat?
I have some of my special jars set aside. Some of them have cracked rims and so I can't use them to preserve foods anymore. Those jars turn into flower vases and silverware holders and whatnot jars. But some of the oldies are still usable for preserving food. When I use them, I don't give them away easily unless I know that the recipient will send the jar back to me. I don't want to be stingy, but I have a bit of a love affair with these jars. They are more than glass. To me, they are windows to the past. They carry memories of hot autumn days with family and friends, cranking out applesauce, boiling down chokecherries and crab apples, baking apple butter in the oven and standing at the stove waiting for the timer to ring while listening to the weight on the pressure canner jiggle over another pot of tomatoes. I don't need a jar to remember those days, but still, I love them.
A good canning site I have discovered this year is Food In Jars. It's a fun blog--not for canners only.
For your interest: Mason Jar History
"...steam was generated beyond the power of the canister to endure. As a natural consequence, the canister burst, the dead turkey sprang from his coffin of tinplate and killed the cook forthwith."~News report of an early canning industry accident (1852)
"We eat what we can,
And what we can't,
~Susan Branch's Grandma