Category Archives: Mason Jars

Mason jar solar lights

Mason jar solar lights  

A Rustic Mason Jar Chandelier in an old barn.

When we think of Mason jars, we tend to imagine them filled with all manner of tasty delights from scrumptious strawberry jam to preserved lemons and pickled gherkins. These iconic jars are ideal for so much more than home preserving, however, and there are so many fabulous and creative ideas for how to use them for craft and home decor projects. Today, we are going to look at one such Mason jar project: how to make solar lights for the garden or porch using these jars.

Solar lights for Mason jars

In past blog posts, we have talked about making Mason jar lights using tealights placed inside the jars. These look fantastic and are great for an occasional outdoor party or evening spent on the patio; however, if you want your lights to work every evening, it makes sense to use solar lights instead.

If you do not already have a Mason jar or two to use for this project, check out our online store – we have a huge range in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Whilst we can’t find a way to make your own mini solar panel to go on the lid of the jars, Mason jar solar lids are readily available on the internet from places such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy. Just make sure you buy the right size solar lids for the jars you intend to use.

These solar lid packs tend to come with a string of LED fairy lights attached. You simply place the string of lights inside the Mason jar and clip the solar panel piece into place before screwing on the original Mason jar outer band. Put the Mason jar in position, ensuring that it gets plenty of sunlight, and wait for nightfall. At dusk, your jar will turn into a pretty light display. Positioned along a wall or suspended from low branches in a tree, these jars will look magical.

Decorating your Mason jars

The LED light strings that are attached to the solar lid pieces for these jars are super-pretty as they are, but you can go one step further by decorating the jar itself. One cool idea is to tape stencil shapes to the sides of the jar and spray frosting paint all over the jar before removing the stencils to leave clear silhouettes to let the light shine through. If stencils sound too difficult, just place paper tape around the jar and spray to give a fun, stripy finish.

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Crafting with Mason Jars

Crafting with Mason Jars

There is no denying the fact that crafting, in all its forms, is hugely popular. A quick online search of sites such as Pinterest, Etsy and Craftster shows that the US is especially keen on crafting; however, when it comes to Mason jars UK crafters have plenty of great ideas up their sleeves. In today’s post, we look at some simple but effective ideas for using Mason jars to make quirky and original items for your home.

Making lights with Mason Jars 

A Rustic Mason Jar Chandelier in an old barn.

One of the easiest Mason jar craft projects we have come across is using them to make beautiful lights. Wind strings of pretty white LED lights into the jars and string the jars from trees in the garden; alternatively, children’s neon light sticks bent to fit inside a Mason jar will give a funky effect perfect for children’s parties after dark.

If you are feeling really creative, why not go all out and convert a hanging light fitting into a Mason jar chandelier? First, find a light fitting with candle bulbs hanging vertically from a central frame. Glue the screw-threaded part of one lid to the frame, surrounding each light bulb, and spray paint the inside of each Mason jar before screwing it onto the lid over the light bulb. If the light fitting has plenty of bulbs, try a rainbow-coloured Mason jar chandelier; alternatively, if it only has two or three bulbs, try an elegant glitter or snow effect for a romantic feel.

Getting organised with Mason jars

Overhead shot of a clear mason jar full of vintage buttons spilling out onto a rustic wooden table. Natural light.

We have talked in the past about how great Mason jars are for household storage. You can simply fill them up and line them on a shelf or windowsill; alternatively, if you are feeling particularly creative, you can go one step further. Find a piece of interesting wood – driftwood or a piece of pallet wood, perhaps – and screw giant jubilee clips at regular intervals along the wood. Fix the wood horizontally to the wall, fix the Mason jar lids into the jubilee clips, and tighten until they are held firmly. Screw on the jars and fill them with the items of your choice.

When it comes to sourcing Mason jars UK crafters are in luck. Here at Wares, we stock the full range of jar sizes, from the dinkiest of jars right up to one-litre whoppers. Whatever your crafting ideas, we have Mason jars to suit!

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The History of Mason Jars

Homemade sliced pickles in mason jars on a kitchen counter

Homemade sliced pickles in a mason jar

The history of Mason jars

We often take our kitchenwares and appliances for granted, using them every day without stopping to think about them in any detail. Whilst it is perhaps hard to get excited about the history of a pastry brush, some kitchen items do have a story to tell and the humble Mason jar is one of these. In today’s post, we take a look at the history of the Mason jar and examine how more recent trends have brought about new product innovations for the company behind the iconic product.

Some facts about Mason jars

The Mason jar was invented way back in 1858 by an American called John Landis Mason. The key to his invention was the screw band that fixes the circular lid in place to form a tight seal. Combined with the rubber ring on the inside, the lid forms a hermetic seal, ensuring that the jar’s contents are perfectly preserved.

Prior to the invention of the Mason jar, jars were often sealed using liquid wax, which fixed a tin lid in place. This was a messy process that was difficult to get right, often resulting in spoiled preserves. When John Landis Mason filed US Patent No 22,186, things changed dramatically in the home preserves world and his jars became incredibly popular. Whilst John Landis Mason was evidently a clever inventor, he was not quite so astute when it came to protecting his patent, which was allowed to lapse. Many other firms were therefore able to produce ‘copycat’ designs and ultimately it was ruled that Mason had forfeited his patent by not actively pursuing those who were producing their own similar designs.

New styles of Mason jars

As time passed, many new styles and sizes of Mason jar were created to cater to the growing trend for home canning. Today, jars are available in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from small 250ml jars to one-litre whoppers.

One interesting development in recent times is the Mason drinking jar. A few years ago, hipster bars in London’s trendy Hoxton area started serving drinks in Mason jars. As the trend caught on, some companies decided to tap into the craze and Mason drinking jars were designed.

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Making healthy meals in Mason jars

Making healthy meals in Mason jars

healthy vegetable salad in mason jar

When people think of the humble Mason jar, it is easy to assume that its sole use is for jam making and home preserves; however, there is so much more to these traditional glass jars. They make amazing serving dishes, for example, as they show food off in all its colourful glory. In today’s blog, we look at some ideas for healthy meals that work brilliantly in Mason jars.

Techniques for serving food in glass jars

Using Mason jars to serve food in is a fabulous idea, as you can see all the ingredients through the glass. Recipes that involve layering different ingredients, one on top of the next, work particularly well and look visually appealing. These jars are also heatproof; therefore, you are not limited to cold salads and desserts. Single portion pies work well, as do soufflés, baked egg dishes and mini puddings.

Healthy lunches in Mason jars

Mason jars are fantastic for packed lunches, as the screw top lid keeps everything safe. If lunchtimes have become a little dull, why not ditch the boring sandwich and take a jar full of healthy salad and noodles to work instead? Try a prawn and feta cheese salad, or perhaps a pesto and pasta salad, with succulent cherry tomatoes and a splash of olive oil. The beauty of the ‘salad in a jar’ approach is that you can experiment, throwing in whatever vegetables and salad items you have to hand for a unique concoction. It is hard to go wrong and your lunch will always look more appetising in a glass jar than in a plastic container!

Buy Mason jars online

If we have inspired you to start preparing a few tasty and healthy meals in Mason jars, you may need some jars to get started. Look no further, as you can buy Mason jars online from our comprehensive range. We have jars of every shape and size, including traditional Mason style jars and jars from Kilner and Le Parfait. The 250ml jars are perfect for breakfast dishes or desserts, whilst the larger 500ml jars work well for salads and lunch dishes.

We hope we have inspired you to have a go at some tasty meals served in glass jars. Whether a simple salad or a sumptuous berry and creme fraiche dessert, showing it off in a glass jar will make your meal look really special. Why not try this approach at your next dinner party?

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Autumn Recipes for Mason Jars

Autumn Recipes for Mason Jars

With the arrival of October, there is no escaping the fact that autumn has very definitely arrived. Some of us may have enjoyed a brief Indian summer over the last few weeks, but now the nights are rapidly drawing in and the temperatures are dropping. Far from hankering for the summer that has passed, it is now time to embrace autumn and all that it offers to the adventurous enthusiast of canning and preserves. It is easy to think that the end of the growing season means the end of the preserving season; however, nothing could Stencilsbe further from the truth and there are still plenty of possibilities for filling those empty preserving jars.

Preserving fruit in Mason jars

The start of autumn means the start of apple season. As with most fruit trees, apple trees typically produce such a quantity of fruit at one time that we often wonder what we can do with it all. Try canning apple sauce, adding cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice for some different flavours. Apple butter is another delicious idea and is the perfect sweet treat for the cold mornings to come. If you are an apple pie fan, fill a few jars with prepared apples for ready-made apple pie filling. Many people don’t realise that apples form the basis for traditional mincemeat but you could make your own mincemeat now and have 100% homemade mince pies at Christmas.

Preserving vegetables in Mason jars

Large preserving jars are perfect for canning large batches of vegetables to use up any end of summer gluts. It is possible to pickle most vegetables, with your imagination the only limit. If you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, try pickled brussels sprouts spiced with garlic and chilli flakes. With Halloween looming, a pickled pumpkin recipe might be just the ticket to use up the carved-out pumpkin flesh. Flavoured with chillies, allspice, cinnamon and ginger, pickled pumpkin will keep for up to six months in sealed preserving jars.

There are so many other possibilities for pickling vegetables, such as marinated roasted peppers, pickled cauliflower, sauerkraut and pickled beetroot. These ideas are all simple to prepare and will provide a pantry full of hearty, warming food to use up through the winter months.

Preserved fruit and vegetables also make great gifts, of course, and provide a welcome change from jam or chutney. With Christmas on the horizon, now is a good time to start planning ahead to produce some unusual and tasty Christmas treats.

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Suitable Bottling Produce

bottling produce

When you have a glut of any particular fruit or vegetable, you need to look at preserving methods to avoid wastage. Jams, pickles, chutneys and preserves of any kind are designed for this purpose, while freezing and simple bottling will also do the job. There is a list of suitable bottling produce as not all foods are suitable, but the basic procedure is the same all round.

The basics of bottling produce

When preserving produce you can bottle in two different ways – either in a boiling water bath or a pressure cooker. Bottling in boiling water is the simplest method and doesn’t require any special equipment.

You can bottle certain produce depending upon its natural acidity. You need a certain level of acidity when bottling fruits and vegetables to avoid an overgrowth of Clostridium botulinium bacteria, which can cause Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning. The bacteria can be destroyed in foods with a high enough level acidity by heating them to a certain temperature.

Most fruit apart from figs can safely be bottled either whole or made into jams, compotes or other preserves. Adding a little lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid will raise the acidity level if necessary. Most fresh vegetables apart from tomatoes don’t have the required acidity level for water bath bottling and will need pressure cooking to be safely preserved.

Choosing bottling produce

Bottling may be used to deal with a glut of produce but it will only work with decent quality food. Mouldy or diseased fruit will not do – make sure you use fresh, firm fruits. Small areas of lesions or spots can be cut away.

Bottling works best with fruits of optimum ripeness. If you can’t bottle the fruit while it is freshly picked, store it away in a cool, dark place until you are ready. Apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums and pears should be left for a day after harvesting before bottling, unless they are very ripe, as this will allow them to sweeten a little more.

Boiling water bath tips

You can buy special preserving pans, but a large stockpot works perfectly well as a boiling water bath.

Line the base of the pan with a folded tea towel before filling it with water to prevent the bottom of the jars from banging against the bottom of the pot and cracking. If you are worried the boiling water will move the jars around, place another tea towel in between them.

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How to Preserve Food

Preserving food

Apparently honey is the only food that doesn’t go off or suffer from decay. What that essentially means is that all other foods, at one time or another, will need to be preserved. The point of preserving food is to inhibit the growth of bacteria, mould or fungi of any kind. As a brief guide to canning, the standard way to accomplish this is to heat the food to kill off any existing contamination and reduce its moisture content and then contain it with an airtight seal. Often an added ingredient such as sugar, vinegar or other acidic liquid is added to further prevent the growth of bacteria. However one of the keys of food preservation is to maintain the original colour, texture, flavour and nutritional content of the food.

Preserving food by making jams and chutneys

While jam was created as a way of extending the life of fruits and vegetables, it has become a favourite foodstuff in its own right. While supermarket shelves have masses of jars of jam to choose from, it’s both easy and fun to make your own – and it’s a great way to use up the surplus from an over enthusiastic outing to the ‘pick your own’ farm!

In essence, the fruit or vegetable is cut or sometimes squashed then cooked with sugar and a little water. Commercial brands tend to use pectin or some other gelling agent to make sure their jams set but although you can buy special jamming sugar with added pectin, this is not really necessary for home made efforts. Chutneys are more or less a savoury version of jam and tend to be very flavoursome thanks to the addition of herbs and spices.

Preserving food with vinegar

Pickling is a way of preserving larger, savoury foods in vinegar or brine. Conveniently making a virtue out of necessity, foods such as pickled onions or gherkins end up with a tangy, sweet and sour taste that is enjoyable in its own right.

It’s not only vegetables that respond well to pickling – eggs, walnuts, cockles, mussels, herring and olives are popular Northern European condiments, while pickled seafood known as ‘ceviche’ is a popular South American dish.

You can make pickles with normal vinegar or buy a home pickling mixture that includes some herbs and spices.

As a guide to canning, you should always sterilise all bottles, jars and their associated lids before you add your home made jams, pickles or other preserves.

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The History of the Mason Jar

Mason jar

Mason jars are a Wares of Knutsford best seller, used by customers for all sorts of preserving and crafty endeavours.

What is a Mason jar?

Modern Mason jars are a style of clear glass container with an embossed logo. They are straight sided and round in shape with a two part lid – a separate, heat sealable metal disc and a matching screw band. These lids, used properly, create a completely sealed container for foods.

The Mason jar was created by John Landis Mason, a tinsmith from Philadelphia, who patented his idea in 1858 – ‘Patent Nov 30th 1858′ was embossed onto the sides of the jars for years. Mason’s system was so effective that his jars were made in their thousands and in a number of different sizes, shapes and colours. Jar closure systems were a fairly hot topic at the time and a number of patents were issued for different sealing methods from 1860-1900. The more unorthodox ideas were short lived and can be valuable antiques pieces today, but Mason’s patented idea has stood the test of time. Early examples of his bottle style have become collectors’ items, particularly those in rarer shapes and colours.

How did the Mason jar come about?

Early glass jars were sealed with wax – a messy and unreliable system for preserving food. When Mason came up with his more convenient screw on zinc cap system, this quickly became the most popular way to seal jars. The French Kilner tops were also popular in those early days, using a stiff wire to clamp a ceramic stopper with a rubber seal onto a bottle. Both of these systems are still in use as sealing methods today.

Mason’s real breakthrough was to make threaded lids, which made the jars clean and easy to use and re-use compared to the complicated flat tin lids and wax seal of earlier times, which could also only be used once. The clear, manganese bleached glass allowed people to see the contents of the jar easily while Mason also used a simple rubber ring to create a seal. The Mason jar was affordable, allowing people to do their own preserving.

Mason’s system was emulated by competitors, so you may see jars in the same style made by the brands Ball or Kerr.

Wares of Knutsford can supply Mason jars in a variety of sizes and spare lid parts.

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Jam Jar Vases for Wedding

wedding jam jars

They may have been designed to house preserves, pickles and other foods, but the humble glass jar has become one of the most versatile objects in any household, with a multitude of uses both practical and decorative. No longer just used for kitchen storage, jam jar vases make a popular centrepiece at weddings and other events.

The Wares of Knutsford selection started with the basic jam jar, now available in a range of sizes and with lids in a choice of seven colours, and has grown to include miniature versions,, sweet shop jars, clip tops, spice jars and versions suitable for aromatherapy and cosmetic use in clear or amber glass. Brands include Kilner, Mason, Leifheit and Le Parfait, while you can also buy spare lids and choose from a wide range of decorative labels.

Flowers in wedding jam jars

It’s the pureness and simplicity of jam jar vases that have seen them become so popular at weddings. Brides and grooms are opting for lower key, more intimate celebrations that focus on the marriage rather than the wedding, eschewing excess and showy affairs. The Wares of Knutsford jars range offers a number of options ideal for honest and pretty table decorations.

Fitting the modern theme of these weddings, jam jar vases are filled with posies of wild flowers rather than mounds of hothouse blooms as table centrepieces. You can go for one basic flower variety but find it in various colourways or choose 6-8 different kinds of flowers in a toning colour story. Make sure the heights of the blooms vary for a more casual look. Build a base with three main types of flower and add in odd accent flowers. Hold the shape of the arrangement with a bit of tape around the stems, which you can them trim to the same length. Dipped in wedding jam jars half filled with water, there’s nothing prettier or easier to achieve.

Accessorise with other wedding jam jars

Stick with the theme of simplicity by offering wedding favours in miniature jars – think colourful selections of sweets such as jelly beans or sherbet pips. If you have the time (and the budget!) you could personalise the jars by filling them with little gifts for individual recipients. Present female guests with a miniature glass jar housing trinkets such as jewellery, children can have little jars of marbles or beads and male guests could be given miniature car models.

Just use your imagination for a really special and personal wedding celebration.

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