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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Old Canning Jars and Lids are Still Quite Usable

Finding canning supplies can be a bit more difficult than it seems.  Canning fell out of favour with the advent of modern canning factories and women helping in the war effort.  During the 1950's home freezers made it a lot easier to store food without the work so canning became something done by farm wives and some religious sects.  Canning became a bit more popular during the mid-1970's recession in Canada but it wasn't until the y2K scare that it really started taking off again.  As a result of the current economic downturn, canning has once again become a very popular domestic activity but what is more pronounced is a focus on canning low acid foods (eg. meats, vegetables, soups, beans, etc) using a pressure canner as a way to curb the rising costs of food.  Canning is not just about jams and pickles anymore!

Like many home canners I have a good supply of old canning jars and lids.  With the exception of some of my clearly antique mason jars that are on display, my older jars are in daily use.  The beauty of using old mason jars is quite often you can find them for free.  Simply adding the rubber gasket allows dried foods to stay on the shelf protected from humidity, insects and rodents.  Barring breakage the jars can be used indefinitely for dry food storage.  They are a very frugal solution for food storage!

1944 Crown mason jars
The USDA warns not to use mason jars with zinc rings for home canning because there is not an easy way to tell if the jar has sealed.  They also state there is a higher incidence for seal failure.  Yet across North America the very same Crown jars as pictured remain in use for canning purposes today.  The rubber rings (gaskets) are still manufactured by Viceroy Rubber & Plastics Limited in Toronto, Ontario and distributed throughout Canada by Home Hardware and Canadian Tire although they can also be found in other small stores.  Notice how the rubber gasket goes onto the jar then the lid sits on top of the gasket?

I use my older Crown and Corona jars with zinc lids for dry storage however, if I had to I would not hesitate to use them for any high acid foods processed in a boiling water bath canner (BWB).   Old glass gets a bit brittle and older jars have a few more character flaws in the glass so I would not use them in the pressure canner.  While finding the old jars and getting the rubber gaskets is not a problem, finding the glass lids and zinc rings can be depending on where you live.

No. 10 glass top Presto lids
Despite the warning by the USDA to only use the single use, 2 piece snap lids there really is no reason why glass lids cannot be used.  Pictured is the Presto glass top inserts manufactured by the Owens-Illinois glass company in both Toledo, Ohio and San Francisco, CA for the Cupples Co of St. Louis, MO in the late 1920s through the 1940s.  There are the glass precursor to the Tattler reusable lids I tested in the summer.  Notice how the rubber gasket goes onto lid not the jar as pictured above?  This means the glass inserts can be used on modern canning jars just the same as the Tattler lids.  Unlike the Tattler lids, there is no potential problem with staining which I recently found out that roasted tomato sauce stains the Tattler lids.  However, they will not give a slightly visible indication of seal like the Tattler lids do.  They are used exactly like the Tattler lids including the ¼ - inch turn back before processing then full tightening after processing.  These lids are thicker than the Tattlers so require special bands but you really only need enough bands to process a canner full as they are removed once the food has cooled.  If the jar has not sealed the lid will easily pop off like the Tattler lids.

The real problem with the glass inserts is finding the rubber gaskets as they are no longer being made.  Some have reported success using the Tattler rubber gaskets with the glass inserts but my observation is the Tattler gaskets are thinner in thickness with a narrower sealing area so there will be a lot more fiddling to get the gasket to seat well to prevent seal failures.  The best advice is to find old stock of the rubber seals that can be re-used several times.  Used gaskets will work as well providing they are not damaged or stretched.  One work-around solution I found was to buy the rubber seal material to cut the gaskets myself.

6 food lovers commented:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I have been looking for information like this for ages. I also have several of the glass lids as well as a some of the rubber seals and deeper screw bands. I have been thinking about the tattler lids because the disposing irritates me. I have used most of my glass lid jars for dry food storage because I wasn't sure about the seal test. Now that I know to remove the band and see if the lid just pops off, I feel much more comfortable about using them for canning. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great blog.

I recently purchase some antique Ball/Presto glass lids that fit standard Mason jars.

I noticed that you mentioned Viceroy Rubber & Plastics Limited Gaskets, but then also said later gaskets are hard to find. Are the ones from VRPL for another size (i.e. wide mouth) and not usable for these glass lids?

Another problem seems to be finding the proper depth screw bands/tops to use for these. Have you had any luck with anything that is available? :-)

I REALLY wanna use these glass lids!

BarefootMomof2 said...

Here is a link for the rubber rings for the inserts

Garden Gnome said...

Thanks BarefootMomof2. The Vicroy rings are made in Toronto and easy found at Canadian Tire and Home Hardware as well as some grocery stores. They are for the glass lids used with the wide zinc bands not the glass inserts (#10 jars). Vicroy rings have an inner diameter of 2 1/4 - inch because they sit outside of the top of the rim. Glass insert rings have an inner diameter of 2 - inches. They sit on the top of the rim like a standard metal snap lid.

Anonymous said...

Please help.
I have purchased some older jars, with glass lids and zinc bands. They are similar to the presto type shown in your second photo, but the jars are Jewel, the glass wide mouth lids are are "Best" and the regular glass lids are "Improved Gems". All of the rubber rings I have seen for sale (most on ebay) do not match the measures size of the glass lids from the outer edge to the protruded part that would go into the jar. I assume this is where the rubber seal is meant to sit on this type of jar. The measurements are 3.25" outer, 2.75" inner diameter for the wide mouth, and 2-7/8" outer, 2-7/16" inner for the regular. What size and brand of rubber ring should I be buying? - Thank you (and thanks for a great post)

Garden Gnome said...

If you have the glass inserts as in the second picture (Presto),the rubber gaskets are no longer in production. The gasket fits around the portion of the insert that goes into the jar. You really have to do some digging to find them which makes them a somewhat less viable option. I've had good luck finding them on eBay but that's hit or miss. Finding old stock is about the only option. There is sheet rubber gasket material on eBay that you can cut your own but it is costly per gasket.