Canning and preserving your own food is more than just a popular trend that is making its way through homes in the United States – it’s a wonderful way of preserving your food to protect it from spoiling, to protect yourself from rising food costs and it offers many other benefits.
Many people are afraid of tackling the efforts of canning because they have heard about how complicated and time consuming the process can be. Although it does require a time commitment, the process of canning your own jams, jellies, sauces and veggies is totally doable and easy to learn. Eating food that you preserved yourself with an airtight lid is rewarding, delicious and healthy.
Not only do you have control over the ingredients you add to your creations but you can also experiment with flavors and get creative. Canning your own food for food storage requires tools that you can already find in your kitchen and the right mason jars for your creations.
Before we go into detail about the different glass jars and lids you need for canning your own food, let’s learn a little bit more about the benefits of canning and the history of the process.
Benefits of Canning
Many people are concerned about the rise of BPA in commercially canned foods. BPA (bisphenol A) is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics since the late 1950s.
Exposure to this chemical can result in negative health effects on the brain and behavior of infants and children. When you can your own food you have a choice of what container to store your food in. BPA-free food as well as healthy preservative-free food that contains no harmful additives or pesticides is the number one reason many individuals switch to canning.
When you use glass jars to can your own food you are reducing the waste associated with pre-packaged foods and your containers are recyclable and reusable. Financial Benefits – When you buy produce that is in season it’s not only tasty but it comes out cheap and economical. You also have to buy the supplies required for canning only once!
Some feel that canning is a powerful connection to culture, family, heritage and the past.
There is something very rewarding about producing and preserving your own food.
No commercially produced product tastes as good as a homemade preserve, that’s just a fact of life.
History of Mason Jars & Canning
Napoleon is often credited with the invention of modern canning because the French military offered a cash prize of 12,000 francs to whoever was able to develop a new method to preserve food in 1795.
In 1858 John Landis Mason invented the original Mason jar. The threaded top used to seal the jar was a revolutionary concept in food preservation.
Unfortunately for Mason, he didn’t renew the patent on his creation until after it expired in 1879 and he passed away relatively poor in the 1900s.
There have been many others who have expanded on Mason’s original idea by creating a wide range of Mason jars, lids, bands and closures to use for food preservation.
Different Types of Mason Jars Used for Canning
A Mason jar is a molded glass jar that is originally used in canning to preserve food.
Although in today’s modern world of DIY projects and Pinterest there are various other ways to repurpose glass jars, using the container to preserve food is still its number one purpose. The mouth of the jar has threads on its outer perimeter so it can accept a metal ring when it is screwed down onto it.
Other common names for the original Mason jar include Ball jars (after the Ball Corporation), jam jars, fruit jars and simply glass canning jars.
All Mason jars are not created equal. They are remarkably similar to commercially used jars, but the biggest difference is that real Mason jars have a wider rim that gives them a better sealing surface.
They are also made better so they can resist cracking and breaking under the high pressure that is necessary for canning. Real Mason jars have two types of mouths – a “regular mouth” and a “wide mouth.”
The regular mouth jar is slightly smaller near the top, which helps to hold the food under the liquid level. This type of jar cannot be used for freezing because the smaller neck won’t allow for expansion of the liquids as they freeze. A wide mouth jar is great for food that may be hard to put in a regular mouth jar and they are safe for freezing.
Tips for Choosing the Right Mason Jars for Canning
In the same way that there are different types of knives for cutting different types of food, there are also a variety of sizes of canning jars made to properly preserve different kinds of foods.
Here is a run-down of the different sizes and styles of Mason jars used for canning.
Wide-Mouth Half-Gallon Jar
The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends using half-gallon jars only for canning apple juice and grape juice. Due to the large size, these jars are hard to heat all the way through and it’s impossible to ensure that the food in the center of the jar has been heated and cooked properly.
Regular-Mouth Quart Jar
This is probably the most versatile canning jar. You can store pickles, fruits, vegetables, beans, tomatoes, juices and more.
This jar is perfect for large chunks of fruits and vegetables and you can freeze them too.
Regular-Mouth Pint Jar
This jar is the most widely used jar in kitchens around the world. Perfect for sweet pickles and fruit preserves.
12-Ounce Jelly Jar
This jar is smaller than a pint and it’s perfect for giving away your delicious creations as gifts.
Half-Pint Jelly Jar
This size is preferred by many canning experts for jams, jellies, preserves and butters.
Wide-Mouth Half-Pint Jar
These jars have a nice shape and are also commonly used as packaging for gifting homemade goods.
The Commercial Jar
This jar is not a real canning jar in spite of its Mason jar label.
Getting Started with Canning
Although the idea of reusing commercial tomato sauce jars as canning jars may be tempting and seem economical, they are not appropriate for canning homemade goods. These jars have a greater possibility of sealing problems and breaking. They also have smaller necks, which makes them hard to fill. These jars are perfect for storing dry goods such as rice, flour or pasta but never use them for canning.
These tips may seem odd, because a jar is just a jar right? Wrong.
The difference between packaging your preserves in the right jar can make a huge difference between delicious jellies and dangerous spoiled goods.
If you are interested in learning and mastering the craft of canning, or if you need to replenish your inventory of good quality glass Mason jars, then contact the experts at TricorBraun.
We offer the finest quality of classic Mason canning jars of all shapes and sizes that will perfectly fit all of your canning needs.
Contact us today to learn more about our inventory of canning supplies or to place an order!
TALK TO A PACKAGING CONSULTANT
Whether you’re looking for a stock package or a groundbreaking custom design, TricorBraun’s proven process will guide your packaging decisions from napkin sketch all the way to the retail shelf.