How to tell age of canning jars? and more...

skye_tx(7/WestTX)April 8, 2007

Well I scored good off freecycle today.

Two different people gifted me with canning jars in repsonse to my wanted ad. Now one lady gave me about 40-50 jars. Looking at some of these I am thinking they are WAYYY older than I am used to seeing. How can you tell the ages of the canning jars? There are all kinds of different ones. Kerr and Ball and a Presto(never heard of that one) Also there are some that have the ball signature on the bottom butthats it. Are these normal canning jars. There are some jars that dont have ANY differentiating marks/brands, BUT they are heaver and thicker than the canning jars. A couple are really pretty. Of course there is a hanfdful of jars that look like grocery store jars too. This woman said she hadnt been able to can in years and most of these jars they had just empitied stuff that had been canned since like 1980. THere is lid goo on the edges that is peftirifed on.. How do I get that off?

Serena

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readinglady(z8 OR)

I'm just guessing, but the Presto jars are probably from the 1950's or thereabouts. They are "normal" canning jars, just old and not produced any more. There used to be lots of old brands, like Presto and Atlas Mason. I have some Presto jars as well as other defunct brands, and I use them right along with the Ball and Kerr.

Generally jars will last a long, long time as long as they haven't been abused. Check the rims carefully for nicks and the jars themselves for scratches or cracks.

The risk of breakage may be slightly higher, but then you're talking about free. I use a lot of old jars, some 60+ years old and I don't remember when I had a jar break. (Of course now that I've said that . . .) I'd guess maybe I've lost one jar in the last 8-10 years of canning. I've found the old jars are so thick and sturdy I actually worry about those less than I do the newer ones. The thinner jars like old mayonnaise jars I wouldn't use. Those I'd just recycle.

In most cases, Ball connotes a canning jar while "Mason" may be used on a canning jar or a commercial jar of one sort or another. If a jar is heavy and sturdy and the standard lids and rings fit, I wouldn't hesitate to use it for boiling water bath canning. Some Extension sites say the same thing. However, there has been a recent thread on the same issue and there are differences of opinion. For pressure canning I'd use only newer Ball or Kerr jars, just as a precaution.

Generally jars are presumed to have a life of 10 years. But my personal opinion is the life of the jar varies depending upon usage and treatment.

The lid goo will soften with soaking in good, hot soapy water. Then I use Dobie or other plastic (non-abrasive) pads to remove it. Usually it comes off pretty easily.

Carol

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 1:48AM
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koreyk

There are some old jars that are collectable and worth some good money. Like $100 for one jar or more. some old smaller jars might be more valuable than larger jars because fewer were produced. Just part of the fun of canning.

I use old jars and none have ever cracked on me. If they crack there is a good chance you did something wrong.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 8:03PM
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veggiecanner(Id 5/6)

some of the older canning jars glass around the mouth is thicker than the newer jars, stopping the new lids from sealing.
I boil bath in any jar that will take the canning ring. Pickles do well in them. Then there are lug jars that are good for dry goods, those won't take the canning lid.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 8:07PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

That's interesting. I've used new lids on old jars with thick rims and haven't noticed any problems. Maybe it's a specific brand/type with even thicker rims than I've been using?

Carol

    Bookmark   April 12, 2007 at 2:11AM
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gran2(z5 INDIANA)

I agree with Carol - have scads of jars that are old and just keep using them over and over. I think the "life span" is by uses more than years, and I've heard 18. Who keeps track?

I really like the thicker sealing surfaces of the older jars. They give a much better "hold" to the rubber than the little thin jars.

There's a book available in the library picturing some of the collectible jars and their values. Might be worth your time to take a look.
Isn't freecycle great! Thanks to the harvest forum member who put me onto it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 7:48PM
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annie1992

Like Carol, I have jars that are at least 50 years old, I think some are older than I am. I like the older, thicker jars, any breakage I get is usually the newer ones and have not had any trouble with seals on the ones I have.

I also use the unmarked mayonnaise and spaghetti sauce jars for waterbathed things like pickles and relish, jam, etc. and my percentage of breakage is no greater than with traditional canning jars. I don't use them for pressure canning because I've found that they do break more when I use them that way.

The goop around the lid I remove with a plastic scrubbie, like Carol. I'll put them in the dishwasher, run them through the cycle and take them out still hot while the "goop" is still warm and pliable and it comes off pretty well.

Being a "canosaurus" I have jars that I keep and don't give away: Atlas, Corning, Mom's, Presto, Sureseal, some bicentennial Ball/Kerr jars, some of the old blue and green jars with the original lids that I use for dry goods, and some collector type Ball jars with flowers on them that no one has ever seen or heard of. Yeah, the closest I come to a collection is my old canning jars. (grin)

Annie

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 11:51AM
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skye_tx(7/WestTX)

I have seen lots of interesting old jars at the Antique stores around here and I really like them... Never could make myself buy them but now I am hooked, I have already issued hubby orders to build me shelves around the kitchen and i am going to go pick up a few of the neatest ones and start a collection to decorate my kitchen. I already have a HUGE (Gallon +???) old jar that my mom got at a yard sale and gave to me(she caved to my begging and pleading!) I think it will be pretty and now I cant wait...

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 1:57PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Ball still makes a gallon and half gallon canning jar too, These are usually with the wide mouth openings. I even have a regular mouth half gallon canning jar I use for my half sour pickles. They fit in the fridge, almost like those old food service jars of pickles you used to see in resturants.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 6:10PM
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marian-m

I was in an antique shop in Virginia last summer. They had those big half-gallon green canning jars priced at $100!!
I asked the owner WHY they were so much and he explained that the jars all come with a "run" number printed on the bottom. The particular jars I was looking at had 13 on the bottom and therefore were very valuable. Apparently years ago when these old jars were current, people were VERY superstitious about the number 13 and smashed/destroyed the jars when they came upon them. They are even more valuable if you have an original zinc lid to go with them.
Interesting,huh? I checked the few jars I've collected over the years and let's just say I'm not heading off to the Antique Roadshow anytime soon!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 7:55PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Half-gallon Ball canning jars are still available, though not common. Today, they're only recommended for high-acid juices, but they're also very useful for storage.

Up to a couple of years ago Ball gallon jars could also be found, but a search this year showed only Ball bail jars in the gallon size, not the old-fashioned screw-type lids. I have several of those.

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: Specialty Bottle Gallon Jars

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 2:32AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Here is a source for the half gallon jars..

Here is a link that might be useful: Ingredients Store

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 12:30PM
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zuel3151

Well, I'll try this again. I found a Ball jar. Not a regular canning jar but a small one. About 2 inches or so across and about 6-7 inches high. It has a bell logo on the bottom with the numbers 638-2. By the look of the threads, the cap was a 1/2 turn lid.
Anyone have any idea what it was made for or how old it is?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 1:10PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Bell logo, or Ball logo? 1/2 turn are 'lug threads' .

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 5:32PM
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gran2(z5 INDIANA)

I thikn Ball made all kinds of jars for other companies, and not just canning jars. Hard to tell. I've found that little "Ball" on the bottom of several commercial food jars. Nothing on the sides,though, to indicate that it should be a canning jar.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 9:56PM
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zuel3151

It has a bell logo with lug threads.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 9:57AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I really a long while back a Liberty brand jar, does that 'bell' have a crack in the logo? Some time ago, I was looking for jars and found some sites that had collectable jars, don't recall the sites, but even eBay had a few to offer.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 2:51PM
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shirleywny5(5)

I am still using the centennial Ball quart jars I bought back in 1976. They have the Liberty bell with the date 1776-1976. Are these the bell jars you are referring to.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 7:27PM
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afeisty1(St. Louis)

Like Annie, I don't give away my older jars. I have Presto, Atlas, Long Life and some odd sized jars from my Mom a few years ago. Have a couple of really odd patterns similar to the quilted jelly jars sold today and in looking them up, found they could be over 50 years old. I don't use them at all; they are proudly displayed though.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 5:18PM
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John__ShowMe__USA(5/6)

I knew that I had a couple jars in a junk box in the basement. Probably not the most rare or exotic in the box, but guess will keep awhile anyways. All had #s on the bottom. One of the glass lid thingys is marked Atlas.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 5:22PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Yes, Atlas was one of the original makers and was bought up many years ago by Ball. Many of my moms old wire bail type jars were Atlas ones.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 12:44PM
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annie1992

John, I have a bunch of those blue/green jars in pints and quarts. I use them to keep dried beans, chocolate chips, raisins, dried fruit, barley, lentils, anything that I've used part of a package and the rest would spill out into my cupboard.

I like them and they suit my kitchen pantry.

Annie

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 4:43PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

OK, this may be a sin, but I gave away/sold all my old blue jars, both bail and two-piece lids, because I don't like the color of food in them. Blue peaches and blue pears are not appealing to me, and I don't care what they're worth.

I personally really like the Atlas Strong Shoulders and the old Ball Specials, of which I have many. Those I can in, just like any other jar, but I make sure I don't give any away. I also have a number of Presto jars and the old glass insert-type two-piece lids.

Here's a great collectors' page which discusses various fruit jars and provides some ballpark dollar figures.

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: FAQ - Fruit Jars

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 11:47PM
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salsagranny

I purchases a 1/2 gallon blue Ball canning jar today and it has no number on the bottom, you can see the seams in the glass from the molding and where it says PERFECT MASON, the lettering is offset from other jars with the P in perfect about half way between the M and A of mason. The ECT of perfect sticks out past the N of mason. This is not the way the wording is aligned on my other jars. Is thie an older jar or a mistake?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 8:47PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Could be a mold slip. Blue or greenish color jars (flint glass) are not sold much anymore, and have been replaced by better type of glass (mostly similar to pyrex) that witstands a wider heat range and sudden changes in surface temps. Some contained lead to, which is not advisable for todays canning ventures. Same holds true for old earthenware and ceramic crocks. Some had lead glazes and these can cause a lot of serious health problems if used in home canning.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 1:34PM
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gdr_7777

OKay lead is only in the lead soldering joints that are on old canning jars. It is also in LEAD CRYSTAL. which is not to be eaten off of. I do alot of ceramics work and we now are very aware of which elements contain lead now. So when we make something we know if it is to be marked safe to eat or not.

HEre is a link that contains wehre lead is in different products in our society right now:)

http://www.haz-map.com/leadfact.htm

BE SAFE and take care:)

Here is a link that might be useful: haz-map

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 6:18PM
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gdr_7777

After reading more about CURRENTLY sold crock pots ... cooking ones.. I have to add... try to buy your stuff in america, and read the specs on it. I was surprised to learn that this company thinks it is ok to sell .85 percent lead in their crocks still today.. even though under federal guidelines of 2.0 percent lead allowable. But anyways.. I know this is off topic but lead poisoning i do not mess with :)

Here is a link that might be useful: blogspot

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 6:30PM
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caavonldy(8/9 N CA)

That's scary, I use my crock pots almost every week. Darn.! I will try and get them tested.

Donna

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 7:17PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Crock Pots are quite safe. The lead glazes were dropped from most crock production over 30 years ago. They used it to help melt the glazes at lower firing temperatures as it also gave a nice smooth sheen. Today, its use is very small if any. I woudn't worry, but do suggest that you contact the Crock Pot maker and see if they ever had leaded glazes.

I have a two Presto vertical broilers, built like a big wide toaster where you place a steak between two vertical wire grids and there are two vertical heating elements that broil both sides at the same time. At the bottom of this appliance there is a sheet of asbestos that is sandwiched between the bakelite base and stainless steel inner liner. I wouldn even want to attempt to remove it, but you can see it if you look at the unit from the sides.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 10:57PM
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caavonldy(8/9 N CA)

I can remember when most toasters had asbestos in them. It was used for lots of things. It was in the little space heater we had in our bathroom when I was a kid. It's too bad it is such a hazard, it was really useful.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 7:45PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Asbestos was used in car brake shoes for many years, and as a mineral additive in baby powders. Also mixed with vinyl for floor tile that wear lasted longer. I even had a piece wrapped around the oil burner furnace head, until all that was replaced alst year. I still have a foot square sheet of it I bought years ago in NH from a hardware store. Its wrapped in lots of plastic now.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 12:14PM
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dianabow1_yahoo_com

Have any of you ever seen a Kerr jar that was produced for the retirement of an employee? I saw one at my parents' home earlier (wish I'd paid more attention) and it was embossed with a gentleman's name, "41 years of faithful service" and the date range that he worked there--I think it was 1934 through 1975 but cannot remember the full dates.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 5:19PM
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jeanettemartin59_hotmail_com

I have some Ball freezer Jars that have the metal lids that are neither small mouth or large mouth ring size, half turn type I think. The bottom of the jar is marked A13. I have never seen any thing like this before. Any ideals on the age of this jar?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 9:10PM
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FraniQ

I found a Kerr quart jar in a box. It has a checkered design. Is it an old jar or a fancy new one?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 5:37PM
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Evie84

I have a canning jar that Has "Longlife Mason" on one side and an imprint of fruits and vegetables on the other. On the bottom it has 'LAURENS QUALITY GLASS SINCE 1910' It also has Lee 76 and 306 9024. Does anyone know where these were made and when they stopped making them?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 7:15PM
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