Country Kitchen: Those Fascinating Jam & Jelly Glasses

Country Kitchen: Those Fascinating Jam & Jelly Glasses

By Mary Emma Allen

When we think of jams and jellies, either homemade or those purchased at a store, we seldom consider the containers. Nowadays, the jars may have various shapes, but generally are fairly standard in size and design unless a manufacturer has a commemorative one made for a special celebration.. The jars we use when making jams and jellies at home may have a slight design on the outside. However, most are plain and come in pint and half pint sizes.

Jelly Jars of Yesteryear

That wasnÂ’t the case in days ago. Although many jelly and jam jars were plain and utilitarian, others were containers to save and are sought by jar collectors today. These were made in fancy designs, some even created from blown glass.

As I explored the history of jelly glasses, I discovered that the first jars made expressly for jelly apparently appeared in the late 1600s. These generally were designed with a narrower bottom and wider top. Some were made with designs in the glass. Thus if a cook inverted the jam or jelly onto a dish, an impression remained in the food.

Jelly Jar Manufacturers

Along with making canning jars, some manufacturers produced jars specifically for jams and jellies. These might be of blown glass in the 1800s, then eventually with patterns with names like Daisy, Clover, Rose of Sharon, Sugar Pear, and Diamond Panels. These resembled, a great deal, the Depression glassware of the 1920s and 1930s. Some of these had handles, like cups, or long stems similar to goblets. So when you see single cups, glasses, and goblets, some may be for jams and jellies, not necessarily belonging to a set of dinnerware or glassware.

Before metal lids were made for jelly jars, cooks used what was on hand...a leather covering, a bladder stretched over the top, or paper soaked in brandy and then tied on tightly.

Explore the Realm of Jelly Jars

With the coming of summerÂ’s jam and jelly season, you might want to explore the various jars for preserving these foods. However, since IÂ’m a jar collector, IÂ’ve discovered there are some IÂ’m reluctant to put to use. Instead I might fill them with buttons, marbles, and other colorful collectibles. Or I simply display the jars were they can be admired for themselves.

Jelly Uses

In days ago, jam and jelly had uses other than a spread on bread.

JAM & JELLY FILLING - Frequently, instead of using icing on cakes, cooks spread jam and jelly between the layers of a cake and even over the top. I can remember my mother using a jam filling between layers of white cake, with icing only the top.

If you wanted to get really fancy, slice the cake layers in half and spread jam or jelly between each layer. As a child, I thought this a very special cake, especially when Mother took time to make the fluffy 7 Minute Icing.

JAM FILLED COOKIES - Use your usual sugar cookie or rolled cookie recipe. Cut the cookies into rounds. Then spread your favorite jam or jelly over a cookie. Place another cookie round over the top and press the edges together. Bake as usual. For a fancy cookie, cut a small circle in the center of the top cookie round before laying it over the jam spread cookie.

JAM ON PANCAKES - Instead of syrup, we sometimes spread our pancakes with our favorite jam or jelly.

(C) 2002 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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