French Canning Jars!

Written by: Jocelyn Perry



Time to read 3 min

You might be surprised to discover that it was French canning jars that ignited my passion for collecting French antiques! These small jars were the starting point of my journey. The captivating jewel green hues of the glass instantly caught my eye, marking the beginning of my collecting adventure. Known as French lightning jars, these jars with white porcelain caps and metal clamps were first produced in the early 1900s and remain highly sought after by antique enthusiasts. I have a particular fondness for this lightning style jar and enjoy showcasing them throughout my home. One of my favourite ways to display them is by filling them with white hydrangeas.


Have you ever wondered about the history of these canning jars?

I bet you didn’t know it was a Frenchman named Nicholas Appert who revolutionized the canning process. After years of trial and error he discovered the present method of preserving food by heating it in a sealed container. His book on the subject was first published in 1810, although his original research started 15 years earlier. It was in 1795 the French military offered a cash prize of 12,000 Francs for the innovation of a new method to preserve food. Nicholas Appert, who was originally a confectioner quit his day job and jumped on this opportunity to win the cash prize. His French canning process was first proven to work in 1806. This new discovery lead Nicholas Appert to present his canning method to the French Military. The military soon adapted this new method of food preservation. Up until 1858 this canning process used a glass jar with a tin flat lid and sealing wax. The tin lid and sealing wax was not reusable and a bit messy. This new invention of food preservation started the canning craze, which lead to the production of many different styles of canning jars to be manufactured in Europe and North America. The canning process has evolved since Appert's first method was introduced. Rubber seals and reusable lids were in implemented into the process to make things a little more convenient.

These L'Ideal French canning jars, which are the lightning style jars. These jars with the metal clamp and porcelain cap came into production in the early 1900's. They would have also been fitted with a rubber seal under the porcelain cap to create an airtight seal.

 The tall slender jars shown here in the photos closely match the style of jar that was first used by the canning pioneer Nicholas Appert.

This is the original style jar that was used in the early French canning years, in my opinion the green lightning jars are much prettier, but you can see the resemblance to the tall slender green jars in my photo.

Are you ready to embark on a thrilling journey through time and history? Dive into the world of antique French Canning jars and discover hidden gems waiting to be unearthed. A quick google search will lead you in the right direction and guide you through the various shapes and styles.

What Makes Antique French Canning Jars So Special?

These jars are not just containers; they are time capsules that hold stories of the past. Each jar carries the essence of a bygone era, a piece of history waiting to be cherished. The shape, the green hue, the markings on the cap and perhaps a few chips and cracks in the glass is what makes each jar unique and charming.

Where to Find These Hidden Treasures?

Explore flea markets, antique shops and several online antique vendors often have these jars in stock. Venture into unknown territories and let your intuition guide you to the seek out the perfect jar that speaks to your soul.

How to Care for Your Antique French Canning Jars?

Handle them with care, like precious artifacts. Clean them gently, preserving their authenticity and charm. Display them proudly in your home, showcasing their beauty to the world. I find they are best displayed against a white background where the natural light can reflect off the turquoise green glass.

As you collect these jars, you are not just acquiring objects; you are unraveling mysteries and connecting with the charming history of France. Embrace the thrill of the hunt and let the adventure begin!