Monday February 28th 2011, 2:27 pm

vintage French jam jars filled with damsons

This is supposed to be a quick one, but in true geek style has become something more. Inspired by Kerstin Rodger aka MsMarmiteLover trailblazer and proprietor of the first underground supper club in the UK, whose blog post at The English can Cook about her love of jars and forthcoming supper club event this Friday Jar Food – Pickles, Potions and Preserves , got me thinking about …. jars. Seemed like a quick blog post to gather some of my favourite jars together, without it becoming some big deal would be a possibility. Trouble is, that when the differences in ridges on glass are something you admire, you get sort of, caught up. Anyway, here are just a few from my collection and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

vintage French jam jars filled with fig jam

Vintage French jam jars are such classics and feature plenty of ridges and facets in all sorts of variations. A good heavy handful and chunky lipped edge are what you want. A few nibbles around the top are OK too. You can always use them as candle holders and vases if you don’t have any confiture to fill them with. I will be selling some of my vintage French jam jars at the Selvedge Spring Fair on the 2nd April in London. Follow link for more info.

vintage Ball canning jar with angelica

When I wrote Fruits of The Earth my preserving book, (sorry currently out of print but will be available again in paperback in June) the publisher asked me to use some Ball jars, to suit the American market. They are virtually impossible to buy here in the UK but by one means or another, I’ve acquired a few along the way. These vintage ones in beautiful turquoise glass look great when used as vases.

Wye Valley Fruit vintage English jam jar

I always look out for interesting shaped jars and my vintage English Wye Valley Preserves jars (I’ve got 2 of them) are real favourites. They just wouldn’t make them like that these days. Finding them was sheer fluke, so sorry no tips on where to look. Just keep your eyes peeled.

vintage Ball bale jar with wire top

Another Ball canning jar, this time with wire bale clip top. These aren’t recommended any more for canning but people do still use them. Finding new rubber seals is the problem. See the brilliant Food in Jars for more info about this.

Ball canning quilted jelly jar

I love Ball quilted jelly jars and again you can’t buy them in the UK. My friend Chris brought me 2 back from the US a while ago and I use them repeatedly. They are so cute and worth looking out for if you are in the States.

vintage Kilner Improved preserving jar

I’ve been given quite a few old Kilner jars by people. Often I’m given them because their owners think them now redundant but in fact you can still buy replacement seals for them. Peter Denyer at The Kilner Jar knows everything there is to know about Kilner jars, sells the seals and also reconditions the rusty tops. A real niche business. These Kilner Improved jars are great because they have a glass lid. For canning, there is something really satisfying about only natural materials, glass and natural rubber, being used here. Look out for old jars on your local Freecycle.

Weck flasks for canning cordials and fruit juice

Weck jars and flasks have such simple lines and are great for the modern pantry. Again, just glass and rubber used here and they work so reliably. I’m a big fan of canning cordials and syrups and find the 1/4 and 1/2 litre size flasks most useful. Weck jars are really easy to open as you simply pull the rubber tongue to release the seal. Also seals are reusable.

vintage Kilner 70s jars for bottling

With great 70’s style, these vintage Ravenhead Kilner jars are another favourite that I use a lot. The screw bands were made in orange, red and brown plastic, and also white apparently, but I’ve never seen one of them. Again try The Kilner Jar for replacement seals. The last canned jar I tried to open was so well sealed that I had to email Peter Denyer for advice on how to prize off the lid. In true expert fashion, he told me to carefully slide a knife under the seal and gently lever. You have to be careful when doing this as chipped edges can totally ruin a canning jar and make it unusable.

Kerstin’s Jar Food supper club is one NOT to be missed. Also her book Supper Club – Recipes and Notes from The Underground Restaurant is available to pre order on Amazon and will be published at the end of March.

I get so bored with the Ball and Kerr jar styles available here. They use to offer more decorative options but lately it’s just the standard plain or quilted jars. Every once in a while I’ll come across one of the old squat round jars embossed with fruit and I’ll snatch it up. The last year or two Ball has put out it’s “Elite” series which is a squat squarish jar that I really like ( http://bit.ly/i6fexZ ) but they don’t stack at all. I use them strictly for preserves intended for gifts. I love the Weck jars but they’re expensive and I’m loath to add another sealing technique into the mix. I think I’d be satisfied if the designers for the Ball Elite jars would just modify them enough so they would stack in a stable fashion making storage easier.

I’m slowly changing over to these reusable lids ( http://bit.ly/fFMey0 ) because in the long run these are a money saver. And Lehman’s is also an ongoing source of rubber gaskets for the bale-fitted jars ( http://bit.ly/fYCsZz ).

Comment by Rebecca 02.28.11 @ 4:14 pm

Great post…nice to see your collection…us jar fetishists appreciate it.

Comment by msmarmitelover 02.28.11 @ 5:03 pm

Just started following your blog – I love jars. Great post. Hoping to come to Selvedge. Save me some jars!!! x

Comment by Emma 02.28.11 @ 6:04 pm

You’ve accumulated such a beautiful collection.

Comment by Denise | Chez Danisse 02.28.11 @ 9:49 pm

I am definitely going to try this blueberry preserve recipe. Thanks for sharing. Indira (www.saucyonion.blogspot.com)

Comment by indira naidoo 03.01.11 @ 4:44 am

Hello- I’ve just found your blog- I was attracted by your jars and jams. The quilteds are what I use to make my marmalade, jams and jellies here in Florida. It’s currently orange and grapefruit marmalade and strawberry jam and jelly season. I love the look of other jars, but the sealing gives me pause. Thanks for sharing- I look forward to going back through to read your archives.

Comment by Jill Crossfield 03.01.11 @ 5:41 am

Wish I could pop over for that sale! Sometimes I catch myself just admiring my jars. Glad there are pals like you out there!

Comment by Julia 03.01.11 @ 1:33 pm

I am drooling over those ravenheads. gah! we need a jar swap lady! I’ll paddle those babies across the pond with my own paws. 🙂

Comment by tigress 03.02.11 @ 6:10 am

I am so happy to have come across your blog. This is seriously one of the most gorgeous posts I have ever seen. Be still my heart!

Comment by sherrieg 03.02.11 @ 12:14 pm

I have a few jars in my collection from across the pond. I’m up for a jar swap–I’d love to have one of the smallest Ravenhead Kilner jars with a red lid!

Comment by Mimi 03.09.11 @ 3:17 am

I’ll echo the comment about us jar fetishists – thanks for the photos!

Comment by trashmaster46 03.27.11 @ 11:42 pm