Most blue Mason jars around today are relics from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Although I don't remember my mother using them for canning our garden's summer bounty, I must have seen them somewhere as a child since I don't remember ever being surprised by their steely blue color.
When I finally got around to decorating the Guest House, I washed up some to display on top of the kitchen cabinets.
They looked so pretty that I went to the Guest House cellar and found a few more. I scrubbed them and set them on my dining room table at home. I enjoy looking at them every time I walk by.
I remembered, once upon a time, packing away a box of blue jars in our basement, so I dug them out, too.
Then, when I took this year's canned green beans to our cellar, I saw more blue jars.
I knew, but had forgotten, that we had a stash in the far corner.
I pulled them out of the cobwebs and dirt, carried them up to the yard, and gave them a quick wash in soapy water, just to get off the "top dirt," as my mother-in-law used to say.
When I finished, I had quite a haul. Just what I'll do with them all, I don't know yet.
It seems I'm not alone in my fascination with blue jars. A quick surf around the Internet revealed many sites, some informational, some nostalgic, and even one DIY tutorial for dying your own clear jars blue. Somewhere in Michigan there's a Mason jar "museum" containing thousands of jars collected by one man! I also discovered that the Ball Corporation has issued new blue jars in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the "perfect Mason jar."
|Photo courtesy of www.save-on-crafts.com|
Nowadays, people use them for all kinds of things, from drinking glasses and canisters to candle holders and soap dispensers. I doubt many people actually use them to can in anymore, though. When we cleaned out the Guest House cellar, there were several dozen blue jars still filled with food. It was kind of hard to tell just what kind of food was in them because the blue color made it all look pretty much the same, and pretty sickly at that. One source I read said the blue hue was thought to block sunlight and thereby do a better job of preserving the contents than clear glass. Maybe so, but I'll keep canning in my clear jars, thank you. The blue ones I'll use for pretty things. Pretty things like flower vases,
and candle holders. I put an inch or two of Epsom salt in the bottom to keep the candle from sliding around.
There are a lot of different kinds of blue jars. Ball and Atlas are two of the most prolific manufacturers. There are the usual sizes: (pints, quarts, half-gallons) but I think they also made half-pint. The families our blue jars came from must have been big - big families and big eaters - because most of them are half-gallons.
|One pint and two quarts, in front of half-gallons.|
|One lonely quart among a sea of half-gallons!|
Their shapes vary, too, especially around the top. Many are like our modern jars (on the right), but the older ones aren't as easy to grasp (on the left).
Some have glass lids with metal clamps and bails,
and we have a ton of the old zinc lids, here, there, and everywhere.
Their colors vary, from dark blue to just barely blue. We have one that's almost green around the top
and one that's rose-colored! I've never seen another like it. Have you?
There's one that has no markings at all,
just these three bumps on the bottom,
and beautiful swirls all around. The swirls were kind of hard to photograph! Can you see them?
And last, but not least, I found these two blue bottles.
I've had the little one for a long time, sitting on my kitchen window sill. I can't remember where it came from.
The big one is a recent find in the Guest House cellar. It was really yucky, filled with what we think was old lard, but who knows! It took a little work to get all the gunk out, but after I scrubbed it and cleaned the inside with buckshot, it's so pretty. I didn't know that "sasparilla" has two r's in it!
I'm thinking that by now, you're thinking about getting out your own blue jars. I bet you have some...or did have some. Or remember some. They do spark a bit of nostalgia, even if you never had any. Now that my dining room table is filled with sparkling clean blue jars,
with more still to be scrubbed,
I'm wondering what to do with them all. I don't have room to display so many. I'll keep a few out for fun, but I guess most of them will get packed away in boxes. Then I'll have to figure out where to put the boxes. You never know, though, when they might come in handy. At least they'll be clean!
Robin just came in from the hay field and saw all my pretty jars on the table. "You know, I have a bunch more of those in the shed..."
(And later, after it got dark, I couldn't resist getting the camera out again!)