A Brief History of Ball Mason Jars and their uses

It is getting to the time of year that empty canning jars are starting to pile up around the house as we deplete our winter stores. We all have fond memories of sneaking down to our grandmother’s fruit cellars to marvel at the rainbow jeweled jars crammed end to end, front to back. Putting up produce with a can do attitude was once a full time job. Now a delightful pastime for home growers, canning jars have grown from their meager beginnings as a resourceful tool to preserve your harvest to a become the ultimate accessory in nostalgia decorating. In addition to putting up food, you can use them as drinking glasses, lanterns, storage jars…and even as growing tools. If you are looking for a fun winter project to make good use of those empty mason jars sitting around the house, look no further than the humble homegrown mushroom. Let’s look a the history of Ball Mason Jars, their many uses, and how they can benefit you as a mushroom grower.

In the beginning

The general term Mason jar is given to any glass jar designed and marketed for home preserving purposes. Invented by John Mason in 1858, it is a molded glass jar with screw threads on its outer rim that are used to accept a metal ring. This band is used to press a molded lid designed to create a seal against the top of the glass. In early versions, a rubber ring was placed between the lid and the jar and often paraffin wax was used to ensure a hermetic seal. What most folks don’t know is that Mason patented the ring lid first. The jar that now bears his name would be nowhere without that lid.

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Hitting the mainstream

It wasn’t until a while after Mason’s patent expired that the Mason canning jar really became the staple that it was destined to be. In 1884 The brothers Ball (Frank, Edmund, George, Lucius and William) founded Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing which would become the home of what most consider the iconic version of the canning jar–The Ball Mason Jar.


Last year Ball celebrated 135 years of the Ball Mason Jar. Despite a decline in the art of home canning, these classic jars remain a household staple. In 2015 the amount of Ball jars purchased would encircle the earth if laid end to end. And what started out as a way of preserving food has developed into a multipurpose tool in the kitchen, the garden, the lab, and even at the crafting tables and wedding tables of the world.

Using canning jars in your home or commercial mushroom project

There are many ways to use mason jars for your mushroom operation. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Sterilizing substrates in a pressurized environment (non-grain substrates can be sterilized in a water bath canning pot.)
  • growing spawn with the help of a filter. We recommend a synthetic filter that fits right over the opening of the jar between the mouth and the ring.
  • Growing mushrooms! With the right method your canning jars can be used for the whole process.
  • Storing your harvest. Canning jars make a great air tight vessel for storing your dehydrated mushrooms, keeping them ready to use for an extra long time.

Ready to get growing? Hop on over to our shop for everything you need to get started growing mushrooms using your old Ball Mason Jars. Need Jars? We have those too! Have more questions? Contact one of our knowledgeable representatives now.