Traditional Food Preservation: Glass Jar Canning

food canning jars history

An original glass jar canning method begins with a story that is 200 years old. The technique was invented in 1810(1). A (competitive?) inspiration by Napoleon Bonaparte began in 1795 also brought results 15 years later with metal cans.(2)

The original glass jar had no thread to grip a metal closure onto it. Required instead was sealing with paraffin wax since the canning system had no other means of closure. The paraffin wax seal could last for up to about six months.

ebay antique food canning jars with paraffin wax for 1810 sealing technique

food-canning-jar-historyauthor’s note related to this post

Actually, about 50 years later in 1858, John L. Mason (of mason-kerr-ball jars) invented a threaded lip jar along with a two piece sealing lid. The result of this invention allowed for a vacuum seal that was essentially sterile. Thus a long lasting storage system became available. Documentation and directions about this is much easier to find in future writings.

Quote from ‘Home Canning with Paraffin Wax’
Paraffin Wax: Short Term Method
As a temporary sealant mentioned above, paraffin was available. But for long term storage, a paraffin seal was not the safest way to seal a jar. Mold could form if the seal was not air tight.

Traditionalists like Homestead Tessie like this old fashioned method. She scrapes mold off the top of jam so as not to waste the entire jar. ‘Waste not, want not’. Traditional canning is part of her intentional homestead lifestyle.

What you need to can your berry favorite fruit jelly or jam. Don’t forget the berries. Supplies from various internet sites.
Dangers Due to heat and cold, expansion and contraction also posed a liability. Lastly, botulism and even death were extreme, out of the ordinary, possibilities. But this wax technique was adopted by Survivalist Preppers for dire circumstances. It is demonstrated in the video below.

Canning Food for Survival with Wax by Paul Helinski

Keeping Traditions
Originally paraffin was the only seal available with jar canning as shown in the video above. It is a system that can be used ‘if the grid goes down’. Once safer methods were available, wax was not necessary. In spite of this, there is more to the story.

Actually, this traditional system is still practiced today. It is demonstrated in the video below. The author also explains why she likes to use it.

Preserving Grape Jam Using Paraffin Wax Keeping Traditions

There are other blog posts in this series that reveal traditional food storage systems. They include:

burying in ground
burying in fat in a barrel
root cellar storage
cream churning to make butter and buttermilk
jar canning

(1)Home Canning with Paraffin Wax

(2)A Brief History of Canning Food

Canning 101: Why You Shouldn’t Can Like Your Grandmother Did

What is modern homesteading?

Jam jar clip art

food canning jars history

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