History of the Mason Jar

The Mason jar is a versatile tool for the multifaceted locavore, and its cost-effective reusability will tickle you green. A mason jar can greatly reduce waste and exposure to harmful chemicals like BPA, and the canning process for which it was invented is often built right into recipes for classic dishes and beverages.

mason jar


Wikipedia currently describes the mason jar as;

A Mason jar is a molded glass jar used in canning to preserve food. The mouth of the jar has screw threads on its outer perimeter to accept a metal ring (or “band”). The band, when screwed down, presses a separate stamped steel disc-shaped lid against the rim of the jar. An integral rubber ring on the underside of the lid creates ahermetic seal to the jar. The bands and lids usually come with new jars, and bands and lids are also sold separately; while the bands are reusable, the lids are intended for single use when canning.

History of the Mighty Mason Jar

  • 1806: Early predecessors to Mason Jars were “wax sealers” pioneered by a Frenchman in 1806; there was no screw-on cap yet, and the process of sealing jars often produced unpredictable results. Glass jars were opaque; you couldn’t see their contents and the sealing process was far too complicated for home use
  • 1858: Original Mason jar invented by Philidelphia Tinsmith John Landis Mason and patented on November 30, 1858 – Originally made with a zinc one-piece screw-on lid, it would form a seal as hot liquids cooled
  • 1879: Original patent expired in 1879, leaving it open to outside innovation and JLM died a pauper
  • 1915: Alexander Kerr improved upon its design by implementing the 2 piece lid system we use today
  • The Ball Brothers carried the torch in later years as one of the largest producers of mason jars
  • Made of Powerful Glass Technology! Soda-lime glass, commonly used in beverage containers, windows, and glass bakeware
  • 1939 – 1949: The Industrial Revolution and World War II spurred unprecedented mason jar use; Americans purchased more than 3 million canning jars in one decade
  • The Mason jar further solidified the public trust in machine-made jars; the opening and intricate neck were next to impossible for glass blowers to emulate
  • Later, the proliferation of refrigeration technology brought mason jars into decline
  • Common names: Mason jars, Ball jars, fruit jars, glass canning jars, Kerr jars
  • The most common Mason jar brands in the US are Ball and Kerr, which are now part of the Jarden corporation based in New York. Bernardin, another division of Jarden, is the most commonly used mason jar brand in Canada

Why do canning jars have 2-piece lids?

The rings used in canning are intended to hold the lids in place while processing, and once a preserve is opened for use. In storage, the rings are removed to eliminate any chance of them rusting, or making it potentially dangerous to open