Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Got Balls ?

The following blog post is the 1st in a series of fugal home food preservation for the novice.

K, by Balls I mean jars. Canning jars. Mason jars.
NOT Mayonnaise jars. I don't care if every auntie you have ever known always canned in them don't. They aren't made for canning.

The six canning jars pictured are from my 1949 Ball Blue Book of Canning, back cover. Cost was 25¢.
The top left jar with the gold Ball dome lid is what you want. Accept no substitutions unless you want to use the zinc screw caps or wire bails for storing buttons, dried herbs, or peanut butter cookies.

Very sweet Grandmothers and thrift shop owners with an agenda will try and tell you differently. They will regale you with stories of how they themselves or their dear mothers or wives canned with wire bail jars, (pictured in the middle). They will tell you with authority that the rubber rings (bottom right hand corner) needed to use the wire bails can still be purchased, and they are right. I myself have bought a few boxes.
They will with a smile on their face and a distant look of joy in their eyes tell you that jelly jars (bottom left) need only paraffin wax and a lid to contain that which is known as heaven on earth, marmalade.
They will tell you this and they will be wrong.

Know your jars. Know your lids. Always check the rims for cracks or chips.

That said know your price point on what a new jar retails for. In my area a six pack of quarts can go for $6 and some change to a high of almost $10 for quart size. My rule of thumb is that I won't pay over 30¢ for a jar. The exception is half gallon jars.
I once bought over 250 jars for $25 on ebay from a woman who was cleaning out her mother's home. I've also had limited luck with craigslist as well as church thrift shops and auctions or estate sales.
Jelly jars & pints are harder to locate and generally speaking are priced higher. While I won't think twice about parting with quarts pints and jellies are another story.

That said the majority of my quart canning jars have been free. There is just something about meeting another canner especially a newbie who is in need of jars that compels an old canner, more so if the jars are just sitting idle in the cellar. It's a hard task to just throw away perfectly good mason jars. Which is why so many who once canned will tell you that even though it may have been years since they heard the ping of a lid sealing they can't just throw away perfectly good mason jars.

How to obtain free canning jars
  1. Place a sign on your front door "Canning Jars Wanted".
  2. Leave index card with your N&N (name & #) at senior centers.
  3. Tell everyone that you have started canning. Jars will find you. 
  4. Let everyone know that the perfect gift is canning jars.

~~ pelenaka ~~