How Kerr Canning Jars Contributed to Modern Food Preservation Methods
Prior to 1858, canning jars were sealed using a flat tin lid, sealed by sealing wax. It was messy, less reliable, and not reusable. When John L. Mason, a New York City tin smith, invented a machine capable of making threaded metal lids, the modern-day mason jar was born. It was sealed using a rubber gasket and the threaded tin lid.
With the advent of mason jars, canning was now easier and more affordable for the masses, and was soon a common practice of food preservation across America. Then the “lightning jar” was invented, a glass jar with a metal “bailing wire” handle. Like the mason jars, the lightning jars used a rubber gasket, and the metal wire handle clamped down to put pressure on the lid, holding it secure. The benefit of this was that there was no metal lid that could rust–potentially breaking the seal and exposing the contents to dangerous contamination.
In 1903, the Hermetic Fruit Jar Company was created by Alexander H. Kerr, and created the first wide mouth, self-sealing jars. The wide mouth made filling the jars easier, and the metal lid, with gaskets that were permanently attached, were less expensive. In 1915, Kerr produced a flat metal lid with the same type of permanent gasket, which used a metal ring which screwed down onto the jar over the lid, and kept the lid on during the canning process.
Therefore, Kerr was the first company to produce the modern-day canning jar that we know so well. Today, Kerr jars are made by Jarden Home Brands (which was formerly known as Alltrista). They also make Bernardin, Ball, and Golden Harvest canning jars.
Without food preservation pioneers such as Alexander H. Kerr and many others, we wouldn’t have modern canning, which is by far the easiest and most reliable method of home food preservation available today.