What Is a Mason Jar?

By: Berlin Packaging Specialist
Date: January 26, 2020

A Mason jar is essentially a clear glass jar with a screw-on lid. John Landis Mason designed and patented the product in 1858. In the days before refrigeration, cooks used these iconic items to preserve just about everything from fruit to vegetables. They come in a variety of sizes from tiny 4-oz options to country store sized 64-oz containers. Easy to clean, tough, and versatile, Mason jars work well in both food service and for retail use. They don't stain or retain odors, so you can repeatedly reuse them.

These versatile receptacles have recently experienced a comeback in popularity. Retailers, food producers, and restaurants just can't seem to get enough of the Mason jar look. Artisanal food manufacturers use them to package preserved products such as jams, jellies, and pickled vegetables. They've also become product display staples in stores. They make great craft supply displays for products such as beads, yarn, and ribbons. Restaurants, cafes, and bars often serve drinks in these country chic items. Casual restaurants fill them with condiments, flowers, and candles to create original decorations and centerpieces.

Wide Mouth

Wide-mouth Mason jars have a 3.38-inch opening diameter. Regular mouths have openings that are 0.63 inches smaller. No matter how large or small the jar, all Mason jars with wide mouths have the same opening size. The same is true for regular options. Mason jars with wide mouths are useful for stacking—making them good choices for restaurants and other food service establishments. Because they're roomier at the top, they're easier to sanitize and wash. Food manufacturers traditionally use wide-mouth Mason jars to package larger items, such as pickles. Regular ones have a more pronounced curve that flares out from a relatively small opening. Producers often use regular choices for sauces and products that consumers can pour with relative ease.

Ball

The name "Ball" has become synonymous with the iconic mason jar for a good reason. The Ball company was one of the very first to manufacture jars used for the home canning process. Ball mason jars were revolutionary because anyone at home could vacuum seal seasonal foods using some hot water to create the seal, allowing every home cook and a small farm to preserve fruits and vegetables to enjoy year-round. The Ball company and the now-iconic Ball mason jar innovated home canning. Ball mason jars are still recognizable today from the Ball logo molded onto every jar. Ball mason jars typically feature a two-piece lid, which includes the sealable top with a ring that holds it in place while in storage. Glass and plastic Ball mason jars come in a variety of sizes and textures ideal for numerous products and food goods. They are still a go-to for food production, while large companies also utilize the familiar design to distribute juices, jams, jellies, and sauces.

Atlas

Authentic Atlas mason jars were mason jars made by the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company, which was in business from 1902 to 1964. Since then, Atlas jars have been made by a different company and are used to package Classico pasta sauces. The original Hazel-Atlas jars only had the Atlas embossed across them to denote the brand as opposed to Hazel-Atlas. While there may have been Atlas bottles created with the same stamp on the bottom after 1964, for the most part, authentic Hazel-Atlas mason jars have a stamp of an H with an A resting underneath. Atlas mason jar values vary between $10 to around $60 depending on a number of factors including the age, color, and condition. The older amber-colored E-Z Seal Atlas mason jars, which were made around 1910, are among the more valuable. Atlas mason jars can be used to package various dry items and those in excellent condition or created recently can be used for canning.

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