Saturday, November 7, 2020

Exploration: Wartime Canning Jars

After I posted Episode 11 about Wartime Canning, this original form that I ordered came in mail! It's an application for home-canning sugar allowance. One interesting thing to note is that while the form has not been filled out, the required rations stamps have already been affixed to the form! This got me really excited!

As for the vintage canning jar lid extra stuff I mentioned in Episode 11:

When we bought our first house, I asked that the previous owners leave all the old canning jars in the shed, which they gladly did. I found some real treasures in that eclectic collection, including a few jars with food still in them. Don't worry. We didn't eat them!

The following jars are all from my own collection. (A quick note: You may notice that most of them are blue glass. This is a result of a chemical reaction from the sun interacting with a chemical in the glass. In modern times, this blue glass has earned an "aesthetic appeal." If you can some original glass that's clear and not blue, keep it out of the sunlight! The change from clear to blue is irreversible. If you'd like blue glass, they now make modern blue canning jars for that aesthetic appeal. No need to alter vintage glass that's becoming harder and harder to come by in its original state. )

From a newspaper article in The Journal Herald Sun from June 18, 1944, it describes the various canning lid options and how to use them. 

The first one is the "zinc porcelain-lined cap with shoulder rubber ring, to fit standard Mason jar." 

Note the porcelain lined zinc cap.
This jar is missing its separate rubber ring.

Next, the article describes a "lightening-type jar" which "is sealed with glass lid and rubber ring, held in place by wire bail." I think this is one of the coolest looking jars. 

Third, is a canning jar lid that's a similar version of what we use today. Ball developed this lid specifically for wartime as it conserved metal with the open metal screw band combined with the glass cap. 
The article describes this as a "glass lid and top-seal rubber ring, held in place by metal screw band, to fit standard Mason jar."

The fourth canning lid described in the article is what we use today - a "flat metal lid edged with sealing compound, held in place by metal screw band to fit standard Mason jar." Unfortunately, I don't have an original of this type in my collection. 

Last, the article describes the most economical option for canning, though it's one that is definitely not recommended today! It describes a "coffee or commercial jar - '63's' - with flat metal lid edged with sealing compound, bought new, held in place by metal screw cap that came with jar. From an old metal cap, pry out paper lining or boil and scrape out sealing compound [before use]."

Below is a vintage canning jar from my collection, though it's not from wartime. You can see the paper lining that would need to be removed. While this particular jar hasn't been used for canning, there were some canned jars of food I found in our cellar that used this method - using a reused commercial jar with a flat metal canning lid and held in place with the jar's original screw cap. 

This is a really fascinating aspect of wartime canning, and I'm so glad I had some original examples to show you! 

When you do your own canning, please remember: Vintage canning recipes are meant for study and historical interest ONLY. Please use modern canning recipes for your own food preservation because today's food science and canning techniques are so much better and safer!

For some extra and very helpful information, Shauna Henley, from the Baltimore County Extension Office in my very own state of Maryland answered some of my questions about using vintage canning recipes:

1. Why we shouldn't we use vintage canning recipes? Vintage canning recipes shouldn't be used for safety and quality reasons. Since WWII, a lot has changed with home food preservation, from the food science we now know and understand, to the canning equipment home canners use, as well as changes in the ingredients. Home canning equipment has improved with evolving science and technology over time. For example, we use a 2-piece metal lid to have a stronger vacuum seal, versus the 1-piece metal canning lids. Improved knowledge about home canning, improved home canning equipment, and improved knowledge about changes in produce (think of all the new variety of tomatoes since WWII), have made home canning practices safer for all. We would say that recipes prior to 1997 could be considered "vintage" because of the new information and equipment surrounding home canning.

 2. Is there a good way to tell if the recipe is safe, or to convert a recipe to use safely? See question #3 about using a processing authority. Here's an example of where someone could apply modern food science to vintage recipes 

 3. What should a listener do if they find a vintage canning recipe they'd like to try? The safest option would be freezing or refrigerating the vintage recipe and NOT processing the vintage recipe to be a shelf-stable product (kept at room temperature). Another option that would have a cost, would be to work with a processing authority, who could scientifically validate a vintage recipe for modern home canning purposes, for safety and quality. A processing authority would validate the recipe for pH, water activity, processing time and temperature, etc.

 4. What's the best resource for good canning recipes? We recommend using the National Center for Home Food Preservation you can find additional recipes from the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning (rev. 2015)

 These may be some websites of interest to your audience. 

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