There’s a New Brand of Mason Jars in Town

May 6, 2011(updated on May 12, 2022)
Penley product line

Updated May 2022

The Penley jars discussed in the post below are no longer in production. This post is originally from 2011. If you are looking to purchase canning jars that aren’t made by Ball Canning, I recommend you look to a jar distributor like Fillmore Container. They sell a wide variety of mason jars.

Canning jars, at least as we know them now, have been around since 1868. John L. Mason developed the system of a threaded jar with a lid designed for sealing (he used lead lids with a rubber seal, not exactly the two-piece lid we know now, but very close). The technology hasn’t change much since then.

It used to be that there were a number of canning jar manufacturers. Ball. Kerr. Atlas. Drey. Mason. Globe. Mom’s. Knox. Golden Harvest. However, as so often happens, through a process of competition and consolidation, the number of jar producers grew fewer over the years.

Penley Mason jar

In 1993, the Ball Corporation (which by that time was the only domestic canning jar manufacturer) spun off their canning jar sector into the company that is now known at Jarden Home Brands. They make all the Ball, Kerr and Golden Harvest jars currently available in stores. One of the reasons that canning jars can be so pricey is that there’s been no competition in this sector of the market.*

However, thanks to the growing popularity of canning in recent years, we’re finally going to start seeing some new canning jars hit the market this season. Walmart has a line of mason jars called Mainstays, as well as a fancier variety branded with the Better Homes and Garden name. And soon, a variety of stores will be carrying Penley Mason jars (these are not the jars that Walmart is carrying). Those Penley jars are the ones I want to talk about today.

Penley lid

I recently had an opportunity to preview the line of jars made by the Penley Corporation. Up until now, they’ve been in the business of making and distributing clothespins, matches, toothpicks, plastic cutlery and drinking straws. Canning jars are a departure for them, but from the examples I’ve seen, they are doing an amazingly good job with their new product.

In most respects, they are physically nearly identical to the jars most of us currently use. They make pints and quarts in both regular and wide mouth and an embossed half pint in a regular mouth. Lids and rings are interchangeable between Ball, Kerr and Penley, which is fabulous for those of us who already have a stash of lids or who are planning on using Tattler lids this season.

When I met with the Penley rep, he pointed out the fact that they intentionally left the back of their pints and quarts smooth to better accommodate the labels that so many canners apply to their jars. I was happy to see that particularly since I’ve always hated the round of wheat and fruit on the back of the Ball jars (in researching this post, I learned that it’s been there since 1970).

made in china

As far as performance goes, I’ve canned in these jars several times now and they’ve been perfect, not a failed seal among them. What’s more, they just feel good in the hand. They are sturdy and solid, just the way I expect a good canning jar to be. As you can see from the picture above, there’s a water spot left on that jar from a run through the dishwasher, there because I’ve used this jar for leftover storage and the transportation of iced coffee to work. They’ve seamlessly become part of my collection of working jars.

Finally (and best of all), they are going to be less expensive than Ball or Kerr jars. While it will only be a dollar or two difference, if you do a lot of canning, that can add up quickly.

As far as I can see, there are only two drawbacks to these jars. The first is that they’ve left no space on the lid for writing. As someone who always writes on the lids of my preserves with a Sharpie, this is a minor annoyance. Second is that the jars are made in China. I pass no judgment on Penley for making this choice as in today’s market it is really the only way to make a lower cost product. If you are someone who avoids things made outside of the U.S. I wanted to make sure you were aware (and as you can see, they’ve clearly printed the origin on the bottom of all the Penley jars).

Disclosure: The Penley Corp. gave me an assortment of jars and lids to try. However, all thoughts and opinions expresses herein are my own and untainted by the free loot.

*There are the Leifheit jars, but they are so much more expensive (around $20 for six jars) than Ball and Kerr jars, that I don’t see them as a viable alternative for people who do more than the most basic recreational canning.

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635 thoughts on "There’s a New Brand of Mason Jars in Town"

  • Wow so many comments thew most unconventional way i have used them is to measure laundry detergent…I know it sounds strange but it worked before they let you use the top of the bottle. Abs still works great for dry detergent and sugar and flour the little one is best

  • I store the spare buttons that come with my clothes in a pint jar on my dresser. Pretty to look at, and a handy way to keep all my buttons in one place.

  • On windy spring days I use canning jars as hurricane lamps. They are also wonderful for impromptu bouquets.

  • Hmmmm … I use them to store bouncy balls – not marbles or buttons but bouncy balls. The ones you spend a quarter for at the grocery store in those little machines. ๐Ÿ™‚ My husband collects them (and loses them!) so I “put them away” in the jars in the pantry. I’m up to 4 quarts so far! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Besides using jars for the usual preserves, I have lids attached to the underside of my cabinet where I can screw on jars filled with little tchatchkes like corn holders, stawberry hullers, crab forks etc.

  • Well, it’s not particularly revolutionary, but I use extra jars to make and store homemade yogurt. Thanks so much for this review, and for your generous giveaways in general.

  • I’ve been using a widemouth half-gallon to store my cupcake paper liners … Hundreds of them! They don’t get crushed and I can see exactly what I have.

  • It’s not inspired but I use canning jars to store the bulk spices and herbs I buy and/or grow. They’re clear, they big enough to hold most bulk packaging sizes and I write the name on the lid in the event I have dementia one day and won’t remember what they are. Got this idea from Michael Smith on Chef At Home.

    1. Great idea! I have mine in baggies and they’re a bit of a mess. I’d bet moving them to jars would clean ’em up (I could stack them) and then they’d stop falling out of the cupboard. Plus they’d probably seal up better and stay fresher. Thanks for this!

  • I’m a Southern girl, and my favorite non-canning use of canning jars is for drinking. I like the rustic appeal.

  • I use my jars for candy ๐Ÿ™‚ small unwrapped candy like jellybeans, M&M’s etc. to keep them sorted and fresh. Also works with chocolate chips ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • I store all kinds of bits an bobs that my three year old deposits around the house. Crayons, hair clips, play doh, you name it!

  • Always willing to try something new. It amazed me that all of the other jars are made by the same company.

  • While I’m alwasy interested in more jars, I try to avoid products made in China, so this gieveaway is not for me. I hope competition drives down the price of US made jars without sending them overseas!

  • I love jars! Besides using them for all the usual foodie uses, I also love to use them for drinking glasses and vases. I also store all my powdered chicken medicine and electrolytes in them to help keep them from clumping up from moisture. (I also want to try those solar powered lights you featured recently…very cool). Please sign me up for the drawing!

  • I know this isn’t that unconventional….but I love to make iced coffee and shake it up in a mason jar for summer mornings.

  • I have used canning jars for everything from holding odds and ends mails/ screws to sprouting greens for salads to drinking glasses. Of course I used every size for canning from the 1/2 pint through the quarts and even a few gallon jars my mother had, these are a pain to do a water bath on, lol.

  • How exciting to get some new brands of canning jars! Competition can only be a good thing. One thing I use a canning jar for is to store salt by my stove. I cut the top off a round salt box, cut it to the right size to fit on a regular mouth pint jar, and add a ring. Then I have the pour spout from the salt box, but the salt stays dry and protected (I used to get grease soaking into the salt box, now I don’t).

  • I had taken some sugar syrup in a quart jar down to the garden to feed my new bees and found them dead in a pile. I scooped some into the jar and went angrily back to the (warm) house to study them. Once I dumped them out on the table, they started to come back to life! So naturally I scooped them back into the jar in a hurry, and put some cheesecloth over the top. The rest of the bees I brought in in other containers, and most of them lived in the end, but those first 30 or so spent the whole night in a mason jar, eating honey dripped in from the top.

  • When I was little, we would run around barefoot in our backyard in the summer collecting fireflies in ball jars. Now, I like to fit them with a wire mesh lid and use them to sprout seeds for sandwiches.

  • Oh it’d be fun to win some jars! I somehow wind up giving away a lot of jam and my poor jars never seem to come home. ^^ My most unconventional use? In the late spring after we’ve eaten though a lot of our canned goods I use the mason jars as cloches in the garden for the wee baby plants. I’ve got to make sure they make through any frosts, otherwise what will I be canning in the late summer?!

  • I think in my house it’s more a question of what canning jars don’t get used for! I often hang dangly earring (the hook kind) off the outside of a canning jar on my dresser. Keeps them neat and contained.

  • I hope people who see these in the store stop and realize where the jars are made. Kerrs and Masons are made in the U.S. With gas at $4/gallon and rising, why would we support a manufacturer that is shipping heavy glass objects across the oceanโ€“even if you save a buck on the jars, think of what all those imported goods do to the price of gas overall. Not to mention the safety concerns others have mentioned aboveโ€“who knows what kind of cost-cutting corners were taken?

    If you’re trying to save money on jarsโ€“hit the thrift store, walk around your neighborhood to investigate yard sales this summer, stop by estate sales. Don’t buy jars made in China!

  • All right! I’m really hoping they will be selling their lids on their own like Ball does. I really have a good supply of jars, but always have to buy lids of course. I agree that the lid is full for writing on.

    My current unconventional canning jar thing is using the little bitty half pints as votive holders. I’m sure tons of people do this, but I never have before.

  • I use my jars for everything – conventional and not. Storing my raw milk from the farm, storing my homemade baby food, penholders, vases, waterers, drinking glasses, the list goes on ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I use canning jars for a variety of things.
    I love to drink from them. Though they are heavier to carry around than reusable plastic bottles, there is a certain charm I can’t resist.

  • Keep our baby chicks food and water in a jar next to their brooder.. just makes for a quick and easy grab and refill their feeers.

  • These look wonderful. I cringed at the Made in China tag, but your point about that allowing for the lower cost is well-taken. My most creative use of a canning jar is storage of homemade rose beads. Opening the lid of that jar is like gathering up a whiff of last summer’s sunshine and flowers all blended together into a permanent sense memory.

    1. i would rather spend $2 more for a case and know that I am helping an American worker keep his/her job than save a buck.

      1. That’s good, Suzy, but this isn’t a comment section for your politics. It’s a giveaway with comments about use of canning jars.

  • This will be my first year really canning so I haven’t done anything unusual with jars yet—besides keep loose change. Hope to win!

  • My mason jars are multipurpose in the kitchen and around the house. They hold dry goods, leftovers, safety pins, crayons, you name it.

  • I’ve looped wire around them and created my own outdoor chandelier. Just pop a candle in and light up the patio. My dad used them in his shop – nailed the lids into the bottoms of shelves and screwd the jars in to keep his nails and screws and small hardware seperate , organized and visible. Also, very best iced tea glasses in the world! ;0)

  • I put tiny christmas lights in one and added a lid with a hole for the cord. Looks nice light up. I used the multi-colored ones.

  • Cool ! My wife and I do alot of home projects . We use jars for everything from keeping leftover paint for touch ups ,and for keeping nails and screws in them. Not to mention my wife is the “canning queen of the san joaquin” lol ! But really , she cans everything from fruits to vegies and has just started making ketchup . Score for me ! She would love some new jars !

  • I use my large quart jars as flower vases when I have long stem flowers because the vases I have are only bud vases.

  • I have grown fond of making a fruit jam vinaigrette in the nearly empty jam jars. My Gooseberry Jam vinaigrette is our family favorite, but the Raspberry Jam vinaigrette is really just as delicious. I think that making the salad dressing in the almost empty jam jar solves several small kitchen dilemmas,what to do with the smallish amount of jam and then, secondly the salad vinaigrette has a great place to be mixed and stored in, and serving it up over salads is a breeze.

  • I like the look of these new jars and I can’t wait to try them. I use the jars for storing stuff in my sewing room, left overs, dehydrated foods, etc.

  • I use a small jars to take yogurt, fruit, etc. to work. I have several around the house as ‘catch-alls’ to hold small things until I can get them where they belong. And, I want to make Potpourri Lamps, filling jars with Xmas lights and potpourri.

  • I have made 24 half pints of your strawberry rhubarb butter. I need more jars! I have much more berries to play with!

  • I like using them (especially the big ones) for leftover food storage in the fridge. They wash up well, you can tell what’s in them without opening them, and they are a good alternative to plastic.

  • I’m new to canning and your website has been extremely helpful over the last couple of months. Thank you! I don’t think it’s that unconventional, but my favorite non-canning use for my jars is making and serving cocktails in them. Generally I use the smaller ones but after a long hard day, who knows?

  • I have used mason jars for almost everything. From peeing, canning, storing (grains nuts candy), measuring, sprouting alfalfa and drinking. (Not all the same jars). Sometimes you can find them at yard sales, but it will be nice to see a less expensive brand on shelves.

  • thank you so much for sharing this information,always
    good to learn about something new out there.

  • I would LOVE these jars!!!! I grew up in a canning family and I am just starting out canning this year myself and am desperately trying to collect some jars! My most unusual usage for canning jars? I was drinking a nice Cabernet Sauvignon out of a jelly jar yesterday! I love them and use canning jars for everything!!

  • I guess I’m not too creative: I use jars for canning and food storage. I would love to try baking in them, though.

  • We use jars for everything, storing leftovers, strawberry jam, canned tomatoes, pickles, drinking. I can always use extra pints.

  • Well, love your blog, Marisa, but the Made In China thing…? With the way the world is today, how others feel about US, I really have a hard time with it. I have become very consumer aware when purchasing everything possible made by US. Our future is at too much of a risk to continue to support those who wish US harm… and death. Don’t think I would even want something free from these people. I will continue to support our own even while paying a few dollars more.

  • Unusual? I don’t think there are any ideas for canning jars that is classified as unusual any more. ๐Ÿ™‚ After coming across an extremely large stash (close to 500 jars for $ 40 off craigslist) I’m not so greedy about using them for just canning anymore. With that said, my hubby has 4 of them sitting on his desk, one for each type of change (one for quarters, one for dimes, etc); they are all over in the work shop for holding his nails, screws, etc; after drying herbs, we use the canning jars with an oxygen absorber inside; we also do that for dried beans, peas and lentils; we sell our honey in them; use them for our goats milk and other dairy products; they hold my fresh made pasta once it’s dried; they are used in the freezer for delicate things I don’t want smooshed (berries).

    But I think the thing I like to use them for best ~ individual serving size cheesecakes in a jar!!! YUM! I love using the little 4oz sized jars for those. Nothing like being able to take cheesecake with you where ever you go. The kids love them too! They can grab one and go.

    While it may seem like we have lots of jars, those who grow a lot of their own fruits and veggies, along with can their own meat, soups and meals in jars knows, one can never have enough jars! Every time I go to the store, I try to remember to pick up at least 1 package of jars.

  • These jars looks nice. I really like the minimal designs on the jars. Plus, since they’re interchangeable you could totally get more plain lids for them.

    At home, I have a few jars that I keep my homemade bath/beauty products in such as scrubs, lotions, and cleansing grains. They’re great for storage of anything. Plus, I kinda like how they look on the counter.

  • I like to make homemade yoghurt in the oven with the jars, or pack them with food and stuff them in the chest freezer—no more plastic bags.

  • I love making single-serve pies in my little Kerr jars then freezing them. I use one for a bank for my pennies, and I’ve put candles in them, using them as a hurricane lamp. I store leftovers in them both in the refrigerator and freezer. Of course I can things, too, but canning jars are far more than “just a jar”. I wish all the manufacturers would leave off the embossing so that I could acid etch my labels on them – yes, I do that, too. Here’s a tip – the lids of Kraft mayo and Miracle Whip fit wide mouth jars. Great for storage after a jar has been opened! (Don’t use them for canning however!) I want to know how to make them into solar lights please!

    1. I nearly forgot – I store all my dry beans, oatmeal, tapioca, popcorn, and everything else that must be kept humidity-free in my jars! That’s a necessity in Florida! I can see at a glance if my supplies are getting low. I love how the jars look all lined up in my pantry. Using both my digital scrapbooking and digital cutter skills, I make labels for both gift-giving and my own use of home-canned goodies.

  • I’ve been canning for a number of years now on my own. But I come from a long line of canners and have all the old ones to prove it. I’d love to try these out; especially seeing I seem to always run out every year. It’s a good problem to have!

  • I use canning jars for lots of things. I love to use the blue jars as vases and for harvest parties they look great with candles to provide lighting outside.

  • Currently use a quart jar with a modified lid to
    collect samples of honeybees to test with powdered
    sugar for mites.

  • I used wide mouth quart jars at my wedding as centerpieces—filled with stones and votive candles, lovely! We also use them for storage, drinking, and lunch transport. It’s great to see a new brand, I would love to try them out!

  • cool giveaway! I have started decorating jars with polymer clay, on the outside. I haven’t tested to see if I can still waterbath them and use them for canning, but if you are storing small items in them or using them for vases, this makes them prettier.

  • I, for one, will NOT be purchasing or using any of these jars. Far too many jobs have been sent overseas and far too many products are imported.

    Thanks for the info but I’ll keep my money in America as much as possible.

  • my favorite unconventional use for jars is as decoration — i line my filled and awaiting-filling jars on bookshelves in my house; visitors always comment on how beautiful they look.

  • I’m really looking forward to trying these jars. I do a fair amount of canning, and also use jars to store my gardening seeds, and potting soil. It’s always GOOD to see another supplier of jars. I’ve used Penley cutlery, matches, toothpicks in the past and never had a problem with them. A quality product!

  • Gifts. I make everything from food items to Pin cushions (On the top of the lid) and store sewing items inside. And give them away. But everyone who knows me knows how much I love my jars, so they always give them back when there done.

  • I’m not sure what would be considered “unconventional” – I can with them, I store dry goods in them (food and otherwise), I’m learning to bake in the wide-mouths, I pickle in them, I lacto-ferment in them, and I make butter with a couple of the quart jars.

  • there is nothing I DON’T put in jars, but I think my favorite thing about using them is that I can pack a lunch (or coffee) in them, and unlike plastic tupperware can stick them directly in the microwave.

  • Nothing tastes better than beer from a mason jar. My year and a half in Colorado taught me that.

  • I love storing all my makeup and toiletries and small bathroom items in canning jars. I have limited storage space and the jars work perfectly to keep everything organized. Great giveaway!

  • We use the extra large jars for storing dried beans and the small ones for drinking glasses.

  • I use my canning jars for everything. I take jars to the store have one weighed for the tare and then fill up with bulk food purchases: grains, pasta, beans, and coffee. In November my son got married…the florist flaked and the family ended up having to do the flowers at the last minute…we used my faithful canning jars for vases…120 of them! We even used them on the alter at the church!

  • Great article. Question ~ The jar says Made in China.. where are Ball and Kerr jars made. This will affect my buying decisions more than anything else.

    1. Ball and Kerr jars (made by Jarden) are made in the USA. There is a sticker on every case that says it so it sticks out.

  • Nice to see more competition on the market, but I’m with the others who are avoiding products made in China. Thanks for letting us know about the origin!

  • I use my jars for all kinds of things! They are so handy. I store homemade spice mixes in them. I make my own salad dressings and store them in my jars. My son puts bugs in them. I keep dehydrated fruits and veggies in them. Homemade mayo, extra buttons, seed starting, candles…the uses for my jars are endless!

  • I’m getting married in August, and am collecting jars to use for drinks, flowers, candles, etc. Would love to win!!

  • I use jars for a cup of tea when out in the garden, means my cups wonts get damaged and the lid keeps the bugs and dirt out ๐Ÿ™‚ Also great when painting or renovating ๐Ÿ˜€

  • I love to bake little cakes in wide mouth jars. Put a lid on it, tie on a festive ribbon and you’ve got a fun birthday or holiday gift.

  • I make breakfast in them to take to work with me at the beginning of the week by cooking oatmeal and putting it into 5 jars. Then I just grab one each morning and can microwave it at work. So easy!