Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Canning Jar Epiphany

I'm 32 years old and have been homecanning off and on since I graduated college. My mom did not can, so I did not have anyone to teach me how to do things. Everything I have learned has come from reading the Ball Blue Book and assorted canning cookbooks and the glorious internet. I've certainly learned a bunch by trial and error as well.

One thing has always bewildered me about canning jars. Modern canning jars have a two-piece system that comes in two sizes depending on the opening size of the jar. The small size is called "regular" and the large size is called "wide-mouth." Why not "small" and "large"?

The answer came to me today in an unexpected way.

I recently asked my in-laws if they had any spare canning jars hanging around that they wouldn't mind parting with. Today they came over with two boxes of jars that Joe's dad pulled from the attic. There were lots of different jars in there. Three of the jars were the old style with the rubber gasket and glass lids. A number of them were the old zinc one-piece lids. One jar had a wide-mouth opening, but most of the jars were regular opening size. However, a couple jars had tiny bands but no flat lid. Those puzzled me until I found this lid on one of the jars (the band is under the flat lid):

At the top it says "for narrow-mouth jars". Duh! There used to be THREE sizes! Narrow, regular and wide. I can totally understand why they no longer carry the narrow-mouth size anymore. It's hard enough to fit some foods in the regular size opening. I can't imagine trying to use the narrow-mouth for something other than jams and jellies. Then it becomes a pain stocking multiple sizes of lids. I only own regular size jars (until today) for that very reason.

As you can see below, the narrow-mouth and regular lids are noticeably different in size:
There was one other surprise in the box -- a 2-quart canning jar! I've heard about these, but had never seen one. On the left is a Ball quart jar and on the right is a Kerr 2-quart jar. The Ball jar is one that I purchased at the store. I have no idea how old the Kerr jar is. The stores no longer carry that size because it takes too long to safely process foods in a jar that large. Oh, but it will be fun to use it in the fridge.
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1 comment:

  1. What a great find! In-laws attics can be a wonderful resource. Six years ago I lamented to my f-i-l that my daughter want to take up another instrument, the violin. He asked if she was big enough for a full size violin and I said yes. He then told me that he had his grandfather's violin in his attic. He had it refurbished, had a neighbor who played in the LA Phil ensure that it was good enough for a beginner, and the mailed it to us. At my daughter first lesson, the teacher took a look at the violin and asked if I had already had it insured. Needless to say, my daughter had an outstanding instrument to begin her violin career on.