Food Preservation, Sustaining life from Sustainable Gardens

I found these beautiful old canning jars in a neighbors trash and could not believe my good luck!  I had actually stopped because they had sat an old desk out by the road.  I have been looking for one to use as a base for a potting bench I want to build but alas, it was particle board but there was a box of 12 beautiful jars..


A Facebook friend commented and shared this article with me..

by Lee McDonald

As people moved from earliest times, they needed to feed themselves and the groups with which they associated. From hunter gatherers to farmers and developing civilizations, the technology of successful feeding has been a significant part of human history and the habitation of place. Food storage and preservation materials are on display at the Beaches Museum as a part of the present exhibit of Native and Cultivated Gardens of Florida. Lee McDonald, a resident of the Beaches community since 1989, curates the collection.

The food preservation section of the show illustrates the development of pottery and glassware which is known the world over. There are many similarities in the development of aboriginal pottery, food collection wares, tools, and utensils. Whether the piece is Geto-Dacian from Romania in the time of Alexander the Great or a northeastern Florida native pressed incised pottery decoration from 6,000 years ago. Design followed function and the need to protect and preserve food sources were important to Florida’s inhabitants.

In the United States, early red ware pottery was used as well as others like Salt Glazed and alkaline slip glazed pottery to store meats, grains and vegetables. Salt was used to cure food as well as were several smoking and drying methods. Home canning processes developed among pioneers in America and the use of sealing Home canning processes developed among pioneers in America and the use of sealing wax and a variety of engineered sealing techniques such as metal clamped seals were developed. Glassware for home canning could be observed on the American frontier from 1858 forward. Until this time, flat tin lids were used with wax for sealing preserved food. These were not reusable. John Mason, a tin smith from New York City, invented the Mason jar. He designed a machine that could cut threads into jar tops, which made it possible to screw-on a lid into a formed glass jar. At first the lids were made of zinc and rubber rings were used to affect the seal. This became a practical and affordable way for gardeners, homeowners, and settlers across the country to preserve food they had grown and to transport it across longer distances without spoilage. Mason lived until 1900, but he himself had sold off the patent he held and died a poor man.

Henry William Putnam a native of Vermont invented a fruit jar that used a glass lid and metal clamp to hold the lid in place in 1882. These were easy to open and reseal and were called “lightening jars” because they were quick as lightening to get into.

During the Civil War, foods were transported in crockery; some smaller crocks which were developed for home canning and on many of the major battle fields of the Civil War period, many fragments and, sometimes, entire crocks used to carry preserved foods can still be found. Keeping varmints (critters and insects as well as microbial bacteria) out of grains and food was important. Often these items were stored in designated areas which were cooler, either root cellars or “southern keeping rooms.” Jelly cupboards, pie safes and cabinets were also located in kitchen or food storage areas. I have a food storage cabinet circa 1820 that has mid 19th century repairs to what appear to have been a rat hole that was repaired with hand-forged nails and metals.

The Hazel-Atlas Glass Company was in business from the late 1800’s to 1964 and developed a jar with a lip for use with a metal clamp. These jars were called “strong shoulders” and addressed problems with the cracking which occurred with other forms of the metal clamped “lightening jars”.

William Charles Ball and his five brothers were in the business of manufacturing wood-jacketed tin cans for the storage of oil, lard, and paints. In 1883 they changed their focus to manufacturing glass containers and then, in 1886 when the Buffalo factory burned, they moved to Muncie, Indiana. The Muncie community offered them an incentive to move the business to Indiana by providing free gas and land. They aggressively purchased smaller glass companies and expanded quickly across the nation and became leaders in the industry.

In 1903, Alexander Kerr founded the Hermetic Fruit Jar Company. He developed some of the first wide-mouth jars which were easy to seal. Another inventor, Julius Landsberger, had developed a glass lid with a permanently attached gasket which Kerr used. However, one of the most significant developments occurred in 1915 when Kerr developed a flat metal disk which was held in place by a metal ring. This made it possible to inexpensively reuse glass containers with disposable metal rings.

The Duval County Extension Office offers information and maintains a canning center.
Consult with the following web site for information on various vegetables for home processing.
http://okeechobee.ifas.ufl​.edu/2010.MG.VegeTip.Sheet​.pdf or

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