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Explosions heard around York County after World War II-era ‘experts’ give canning advice

Ball Mason jars, around for 125 years, can be used for many things. In this Kansas City Star photo, tea lights flicker in the jars. In fruit- and vegetable-rich York County, Pa., the jars remain staples for canning, their use for decades. Background posts: 21st-century Victory Gardens might morph into Stimulus Gardens and 20 questions and answers to prove your York County WWII smarts and Pennsylvania Dutch-speaking York County residents often conversed with German POWs and Jamaican fruit pickers worked York County orchards in World War II .

Five brothers named Ball started production of fruit jars in 1884, with John Mason’s 1858 invention in mind.
Three years later, they moved their plant to Muncie, Ind., and their Ball Mason jars became a standard part of American homes.
This 125th anniversary of the jar brings to mind time of a government snafu when canning was most needed – the days of World War II… .

The idea then was that Americans should feed themselves so government could tend to the stomachs of millions of fighting men and women.
In those days, government was everywhere, even issuing directives about how to safely can vegetables. This drew the ire of York County folks, who not only were veteran home canners but worked in canneries throughout the county. (Indeed, canneries still operate today, and some – Hanover Foods, for example – have grown into major companies.)
The book “In the Thick of the Fight” quotes a York newspaper report about the explosions – no doubt Ball Mason jars – caused by the government-directed “oven method” of preserving vegetables:

“In the interest of having some housewives save the tragedy of having their eyes put out by flying glass, or the less misfortune having a stove wrecked at a time when stoves are hard to get, the Dispatch today calls attention to the fact that numerous explosions are occurring as a result of a canning practice which has been recommended to York women by various ‘experts’ … .”

Factoids about Mason Ball jars:
– 585,000 jars and 3 million lids are produced each day at the Ball plant in Muncie, Ind.
– Jars are as small as 4-ounce jelly jars.
– For canning tips, recipes, products and consumer message boards, go to www.freshpreserving.com. Call 800-240-3340 for recipes and how-to-canning information.
– The Ball brothers loaned their name to a college in Muncie, now Ball State University.
Source for parts of this post: Kansas City Star/York Daily Record/Sunday News.