Country Kitchen: Fruit and Jelly Jar Time

Country Kitchen: Fruit and Jelly Jar Time
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This time of year was canning and jelly time when I grew up on a Hudson River Valley farm. Those were the days before freezers, even in the refrigerator. So Mother canned vegetables, fruit, and meat. She made pickles, jams and jellies. Our summer days were spent, between haying chores, picking, preparing, and canning winter food.
We never gave thought where the fruit and jelly jars originated, how long they had been in production, or the various companies that manufactured them. They were utilitarian vessels in which to keep our food supply.

Collector Items

Nowadays, fewer people do home canning. However, the old canning jars are gaining in popularity. TheyÂ’re sought by collectors and nostalgia buffs. They also are used as decorative containers, particularly in the kitchen.

When cleaning out the old farmhouse where I grew up, I found old canning jars in the cellar. These brought back memories of my childhood and those busy days of food preparationÂ…those hot days working over a wood burning stove and in a kitchen that became very warm.

My daughter and I became fascinated by these fruit jars and began researching and collecting. At one time, we were somewhat overrun with fruit and jelly jars, but have weeded out our collections so theyÂ’re more manageable.

Inexpensive Items

Many fruit jars are relatively inexpensive so are good items for collectors on a budget. You often find them at yard sales, flea markets, and antique shops. Some rare jars can run more than $100 but many start out at $1 and up.

They can be used for storing items such as beans, macaroni, rice, and other dry edibles and placed around the kitchen for decorative effect. You can use them for pencil holders, vases, marble keepers, etc.

Of course, if you do can your garden produce, youÂ’ll use the jars for that, too. However, you may want to keep your truly old jars solely for display.

Collecting Information

*The “Red Book Collector’s Guide to Old Fruit Jars,” by Douglas Leybourne, gives you suggested prices for old jars and methods of identification.

*If you type “Fruit Jars” or “Fruit Jar Clubs” into an online search engine, you’ll come up with clubs, shows, and general information.


This was a pie from my childhood. You could serve it plain or garnish with berriesÂ…sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, as you desire.

Cook in a double boiler until thick…2 ½ cups milk, 2/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 tablespoon flour, 2 beaten eggs, pinch of salt. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla after filling has cooked.

So the filling will be smooth, mix the dry ingredients together, then add a little milk to make a smooth paste. Add the remaining milk, eggs and cook, stirring occasionally.

Cool slightly; then pour filling into baked pie shell. Chill and add berries or coconut, if you desire.

Article (C) 2005 Mary Emma Allen

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About The Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes

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