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Preserving History with Glass

Preserving History with Glass

Glass preserves may not be the most glamorous, but the human race would have had a much different story without them. From Napoleon to your dining room table, using glass to store and transport food is a technique that’s over 200 years in the making.

This is the truth for the humble preserve jar, which despite advances in nearly every aspect of our daily lives, have remained largely the same over the last several thousand years. But how did they come to be, and why choose glass?

The story begins in 4000BC, as archaeologists have found evidence of manmade glass, although it was not until around 1500BC that the first hollow glass containers were made by covering a sand core with a layer of molten glass, thus allowing it to take on a shape for storing produce in.

The next big innovation was to happen in Britain, when a Mr Ashley in Castleford, Yorkshire created a semi-autonomous machine capable of producing 200 bottles per hour, an incredible feat which tripled the speed of production in his factory. The innovation didn’t stop there, because a scant 20 years later a Mr Michael Owens of Illinois created a fully automated machine which created 2500 bottles per hour – a previously unimaginable feat.

Since then, it’s been up and up for the glass preserve jar, finding its way into the homes of millions if not billions of people, but what makes it so enduring? Well, glass is a non-reactive material, meaning that produce that comes in to contact with it will never be altered or damaged via association with it. This is extremely important when preserving food, as you can imagine, and when sealed, a glass jar does not allow air to flow in and out of it, ensuring that your food remains perfectly edible and delicious for sometimes years on end and thanks to the versatility of the humble preserve jar, you can store pretty much anything at all – including your favourite jams!