With supply and worker shortages and an increase in home canning in 2020 and 2021, new or unfamiliar brands of canning jars and lids began to appear to fulfill consumer needs. Should consumers trust these new or unfamiliar products?
Canning jars have been around since 1858 when John L. Mason invented and patented a threaded glass jar that became known as the Mason jar and sold under the label, Mason. The original jar has changed very little but has undergone variations in shape and cap design. After Mason’s patent expired, many other manufacturers produced glass jars for home canning using the Mason-style jar with labels such as Ball, Kerr, Atlas, Drey, Mason, Globe, Mom’s, Knox, and Golden Harvest. However, as so often happens, through a process of competition and consolidation, the number of jar producers grew fewer over the years with one company, Newell Brands, acquiring the Ball®, Kerr, Bernardin, and Golden Harvest brands—all familiar brands to consumers.
Mason’s initial form of closure for the glass canning jar was a zinc screw-on cap with a milk-glass liner that screwed down onto a rubber ring on the shoulder of the jar, not the lip. In 1903, Alexander Kerr introduced lids with a permanent rubber seal eventually giving way to the modern two-piece metal lids that seal on the rim.
AnswerLIne has received many calls from clients wanting to know about the new or unfamiliar brands of jars and lids filling the shelf space formerly occupied by familiar and trusted brands. It is important to note that regardless of the brand, USDA canning procedures and processing times are based on scientific testing using standard Mason jars and two-piece metals lids. See Canning in Odd Sized Jars for information on non-standard sized jars.
Here’s what has been gleaned about some of the brands AnswerLine clients have asked about as they have shopped for canning supplies:
Anchor Hocking – Originally known for glass bake- and cookware, Anchor Hocking has re-entered the market with Mason jars. The jars are made in the USA and per company information are dishwasher safe and perfect for canning, crafting, and storage. The Anchor Hocking website gives instructions for both water bath and pressure canning with the jars. Information on the box says the jars, lids and bands are BPA free. The jars come with lids and bands; no information was found regarding the quality of the lids.
Country Classics – These jars and lids are made in China and distributed by a company in Ohio. Per the Country Classics website, www.countryclassicscanning.com, the jars are safe for preserving, crafting, and storing; information is provided for canning by water bath and pressure. Wide-mouth and regular lids are available. There is no information about the lids on the website but customer reviews on other sites are mixed.
Denali – Offering wide-mouth and regular flat lids, rings, and a pressure canner in their canning line, this company has an engineering team in the US with manufacturing facilities currently in China; per the company website, www.denalicanning.com, this company plans to expand US operations in the near future. Made of a heavier gauge of steel, the lids have been rigorously tested. Consumers find that the lids seal well. If something should not go right with the lids, Denali has a customer resolution option with possible refund.
Golden Harvest – Golden Harvest is back on the market as a lower-priced line of home canning jars and lids sold by Newell Brands which also owns the Ball®, Kerr, and Bernardin (Canada) brands. Most home canners find the Golden Harvest jars and lids to be of good quality. The lids are manufactured in the US. There are no wide-mouth jars in the product line and there is no website for customer service.
Kilner® – Kilner® is an old English company. Currently jars are being manufactured in China. Kilner® makes a variety of jars but the standard Mason jars with two-piece metal lids meet the USDA’s guidelines for home canning jars. They are safe for all types of canning, including pressure. Kilner® makes their own lids but standard, two-piece, US market, metal lids also fit these jars. The jars may come with recipes but should be ignored; instead, recipes from a reputable source should be used. The jars come in “ml” sizes, not the US standard half-pint, pint, and quart jars so processing times* need to be considered. The USDA has not released any recommendations on these jars at the present time, so the rule of thumb is to use the next tested time up. More information can be found on the company’s website, www.kilnerjar.com.
Mainstay – The Mainstay line has been part of Walmart’s offering for several years. However, it is not clear that Walmart is selling Mainstay canning jars and lids in 2022. Prior, both jars and lids were made in the USA per product labeling—jars at an Anchor Hocking plant in Monaca, PA and lids by Healthmark LLC Jarden Home—but cannot be verified for recent products (should there be any). Judging by 2020 consumer reviews, most consumers were satisfied with the lids but did note that the lids were thinner and some of the lids were defective right out of the box. The jars were listed as safe for home canning and freezing but did not specifically mention pressure canning. Mainstay BPA-free plastic lids that fit Mason jars are still available; these lids can be used for storage but not for canning.
Orchard Road – Orchard Road canning jars and lids are made in China following stringent guidelines per a company spokesperson. The plastisol sealing compound is made in Pennsylvania. A company spokesperson said the entire canning product line has been tested by an independent lab against Ball® products and found to perform just as well. Azure Marketing asserts that they provide consumers with high-quality canning products at reasonable prices. The jars are heavy and safe for both water bath and pressure canning. The lids are BPA-free and can be used with other Mason jars. They also offer a line of decorative lids.
PUR Mason – PUR Mason jars and lids are manufactured in China and distributed by the PUR Health Group in Broomfield, Colorado. According to a PUR company official, PUR lids and jars are safe for canning—both water bath and pressure canning. Jars are lead free. A new generation of BPA-free lids are now on the market and are heavier, have a thicker coating of enamel on the inside, and have an improved sealing compound for better adhesion. For more information visit the PUR website.
True Living – Both jars and lids are made in China and distributed by a company in Tennessee. Lighter in weight than some other brands, they are sometimes found in the craft section of stores rather than the kitchen section. Information on the side of the jar box says “dishwasher safe and BPA free.” Lids have mixed reviews.
Weck – Weck home canning jars are made in Germany and are well-known in Europe. Weck also owns the Rex line of preserving jars in Austria. The Weck canning jar system consists of glass jars, glass lids, tabbed rubber gaskets (sealing rings) and metal clamps. The jars are certified for both water-bath canning and pressure canning. The jars come in numerous irregular “ml” sizes—not the US standard half-pints, pints and quarts requiring processing time* adjustments; there are currently no USDA recommendations. Canning information accompanying the jars has been found to lack modern, research-based procedures so should be discarded in the interest of food safety; tested recipes from reputable sources should be used. Weck jars and supplies are more costly and are irregular in size; it is not possible to fit the standard 7 (quart) jars in a canner. More information can be found at www.weckjars.com.
There are countless sources for canning lids and it appears that most are made in China. It is not possible to find reliable information for the no-name brands; reviewer’s comments indicate that lid failure is a problem. Counterfeit lids are still being sold so it is definitely a “buyer beware” canning market. While the cost will be higher, supplies are predicted to keep up with demand in 2022.
The USDA, National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP), Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, or AnswerLine do not recommend for (or against) any of these products. The current recommendation is to use the tested two-piece metal lid system that has been the norm for many years and Mason jars specifically made for the rigors of canning.
*The shape and size of a jar effects the safety of the canning process, so it should not be assumed that recommended processes can be used with jars other than the standard sizes and shapes of Mason-type jars manufactured for home canning. – So Easy to Preserve