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

  • I would love to have the jars. I love making Zuc Relish and tomatoes. The crazies thing that I have done is make candles in jars! They are so pretty!! Thanks for the chance to make more Zuc Relish!!

  • We use ’em for everything storage. They’re here in the house as bulk storage, in the barn as storage for screws, nails & other small items, I’m currently making apple cider vinegar in one!!!

  • I love glass jars and bottles. I’ve never trusted plastic – don’t like how it looks or feels. But glass —- that’s another story. I use “fruit” jars for canning, for water kefir, for milk kefir, for kombucha, for storing dehydrated things, even for decoration(old wooden tread spools look great in a jar!) One can never have enough! Thanks for running this giveaway.

  • not exactly and unconventional use- but very handy. I live in the south where it is hot and humid all summer. I use jars to store everything that might be attractive to the various bugs/gnats/weevils that take over when it gets hot. Regular canisters don’t seal to keep them out, but jars sure do the trick! I keep sugar/flour/cereal/gummy bears/you name it in jars!

  • I am happy that home canning is making a comeback. I freeze liquids (broth/ soup) if I don’t have enough to can.

    It is good to see more manufacturers. Hopefully it will lower the price. And although buying American is nice I have to save every penny I can.

  • My favorite unconventional use came when my oldest son was married. Having grown up it TX, he wanted a traditional TX barbeque for the rehearsal dinner. I used pint canning jars as drink glasses and 1/2 gallon ones for flower arrangements from the farmer’s market.

  • I keep my collection of antique knitting needles in an old, blue, sloped shoulder half gallon jar. My husband also uses my empty quart jars as beer mugs πŸ™‚

  • i use them for various things
    pen/pencil/marker holder.
    leftover food
    bulk items in the grocery store
    crafts
    buttons
    compost
    herbs

  • I recently hosted a buffet-style brunch at my house (featuring homemade lemon curd and orange marmalade!) and used large canning jars to hold silverware. Very handy and also in keeping with the theme of homemade preserves.

  • Cake in a jar! Although, I suppose that’s not so unconventional. Canning jars are so versatile, they can be used in every room of the house. I can always use extras!

  • I would love to try these. I use Mason jars to store all of my dry goods as well as frozen soups, sauces and stocks.

  • Nice jars & I’m sooo excited to see the book. Today’s fun includes starting ferments for mustard condiment and lemon preserves. Rhubarb, apple and ginger preserves if I get to them. I’m sure I could fill another set of 12 jars. Love that your offering them:)

    1. I have to add, we really do celebrate our jars. There is one jar on the kitchen counter with flowers in it now. (A huge poppy & a orchid) πŸ™‚

  • I started canning in 2007 and have not stopped since. My first Mason jars were donated to me. I especially enjoy all the different designs. My neighbor lady gave me some plum jam in the bicentennial jar! The most unconventional method of use would be storage for milk from our goats! That way I always have a glass ready for when I go to work and then the larger jars for in the fridge!

  • The new jars look great, unfortunate that they are not made in America though. I would be happy to try them and compare them with brands I have used in the past. It is good to know that you had no failed seals when using these jars. I use canning jars for everything from coin jars in the laundry room to storing my dried herbs.

  • Excited about new jars! I’m new to canning, so right now I don’t use my jars for anything but canning – I love them all lined up in their boxes, waiting to be filled with delicious treats (like those breakfast cups you posted last week – holy cow, yum).

  • I store lots of things in them…mostly food.

    I like to use them for drinking glasses.

  • I use 1 qt canning jars for my Sourdough starter. When time to replenish I just add old sourdough starter and 1 cup water/1 cup flour and all good to go in a new/clean jar.

  • I sort buttons into three jars by color (light, medium and dark) so I can easily find a match.

  • I soak rolled oats in a jar with a splash of apple cider vinegar and then cook them up in the morning. Helps to neutralize phytates and also makes them quick to cook.

  • I use canning jars for everything……..would love more. I’m glad there is some competition. I would love to see the old 20 oz jars made again.

  • Hokay, so, I’m pretty conventional with my jars, but a few have been pressed into service for leftovers, and there is one in regular rotation holding my cold brew coffee concentrate. Yum. I have found with the plastic lids, the seal is not water tight, which is why I don’t transport with them, otherwise I totally would, as I try to avoid heating plastic, and all my ‘tupperware’ is plastic, so that means bringing a second dish. πŸ™

  • My most unconventional use of canning jars is a homemade moss terrarium. I like to collect the moss in the fall, and all winter you can watch your bit of green nature when its so white and dreary outside. Broken pottery bits on the bottom are good to look at and add drainage.

  • I am also very conventional, but I recently used a jar to store my lemon curd, and, because of your blog, used it on Greek yogurt. MMMMM.

  • favorite unconventional use of canning jars? there are so many! just a few: to hold pencils/markers/scissors (art supplies); small jars fit in my yogurt maker; to hold fresh flowers and herbs; big jars for brewing sun tea. I could go on, but I won’t. thanks for the giveaway. no such thing as too many jars!

  • I store my baking soda in an old half-pint mason jar so it stays fresh and doesn’t pick up funky flavors or odors. I also use a lot of jars for leftovers (especially half-used cans of beans or tomatoes).

  • I like to use jars to feed one of my other obsessions – knitting. I use the jars to hand dye yarn!

  • I am new to canning so it may not be unconventional but baking in jars is such a neat idea-it’s a dessert and a gift in one!

  • Am just recently getting into canning, but I use mason jars for literally everything! I’m in college and just took a course “The environment and human health”…I got out of class one day and sped out to a local farm to grab raw milk and [tried to] process yogurt after I had learned on the dangers of storing food in plastic! But anyways, I really use them for anything and everything; absolutely love opening the fridge to see 3 shelves of assorted jars full of different colors and textures (sauces, various pickles, jams, that morning’s coffee, roasted red peppers, beans, soups–carrot and ginger, ah!–chutney, milk, oatmeal……), the sign of a productive day! I’m also really looking forward to my second summer gardening, this year I’m making it my goal to try and preserve as much as I possibly can for the following fall/winter. Love your blog (just used your dilly bean recipe!) and thanks for the opportunity to enter!
    Lauren

  • I getcha on the fruit on the ball mason jars…would love to label my jars especially ones I gift. And speaking of gifting, would love to have a cheaper jar as I never seem to get them back, even when I promise refills! What’s with that?

  • I would love to win a new set of caning jars. I get most of my canning jars from yard sales and auctions. Brand new would be a novelty to me, lol.

  • TEA…I love loose tea and I see no point in keeping them in a plastic zip bag or cannister. Loose tea is so pretty with all the leaves,flowers and fruit peels. I put my tea in mason jars on display with my extra tea pots.

  • I use jars for my lunch containers. I love to put salads in them and when it’s time to dress the salad I pour some in and shake it up. PERFECT.

  • New jars are good news, especially with the insane garden I am growing this year. I put in 54 tomato plants yesterday. I guess my most unconventional use of a canning jar is the lamp I made from one in my reading area.

  • I’ve only just begun canning, so I have no unusual uses for my jars yet. These would sure help me as I start my second canning season!

  • Most of my use is conventional, but I do have a quart jar that I use for hand soap — bought a conversion kit with a pump and lid, filled with hand soap and …….presto!

  • I use jars to hold sewing supplies — bobbins, buttons, bits of ribbon, etc.

  • I am new to canning, but not to mason jars. πŸ™‚

    I use them for all my storage in my cabinets. I use mostly 1/2 gallon Ball jars for wheat, oats, nuts, etc and the smaller sizes for coconut, choc chips, dough conditioners and then the pint or half pints for spices.

  • I am new to canning but the best purpose alternative use for jars around this place would be LEGO storage/sorting!

  • Such great ideas from everyone – I can’t wait to try a few myself!
    In addition to jams, pickles, etc., I use jars to display sand from each of the beaches that I have visited.

  • Most unusual? I baked a ‘cupcake’ in a half-pint jar, leaving plenty of room to pour in frosting. Then I capped the thing, wrapped it in bubble wrap, and sent it to a friend via post. Voila, birthday cake that travels in the mail without being crushed or disturbed.

    I’ll do it again.

  • Currently my only unconventional use is for flowers or starts off a plant that I put in water to root – HOWEVER when I was younger I use jars as lightning bug houses…Used to drive my mom crazy… I’d take a perfectly good jar lid and punch holes in it and catch lightning bugs andleave them in the jar…the next day she was alway letting the bugs out and throwing away the messed up lid.

  • I don’t have many unconventional uses for canning jars, other than storing pantry goods. But I’ve loved reading all the ideas listed here!

  • I store my dried beans, lentils, and rice in canning jars in my pantry. The never get a hole and dump food all over my pantry.

  • I have many uses for my canning jars other than preserving food. I store all my different kinds of beans in them. I put them back in the box and store them in the barn. When I need them they are all in the same spot.

  • i use jars for just about everything- leftovers, bulk food purchasing and storage, drinks (we have no regular glasses, just jars!), etc. but right now many of my jars are being used to root plants for my garden. thanks for this giveaway!

  • I keep q-tips in a jar in my bathroom. I also have jars full of rocks, shells, and sand from various travels. πŸ™‚

  • In just under the wire! I use canning jars for everything from dry goods storage to drinking glasses, but the most unconventional use was lanterns at my wife’s birthday party. A votive candle in each quart jar, hung from the branches of a tree.

  • Sometimes I use jars to sprout sweet potatoes for planting. But mostly I use them for canning πŸ™‚ Love the site!

  • I like to put cut flowers from my garden in the small jars and tie a ribbon around them. I use them as table decorations or as a quick hostess gift when going to a summer bbq or party.

  • On the rare occasions where I make salad dressing – into a jar it goes for easy shaking and serving.

  • I use them for tons of things, but the most unusual I guess is that I put beach rocks or salt or whatever in them to hold up candles for my Thanksgiving table.

  • I use them all around the house for storage (they are my style). I love using them for parties for my guests to drink out of & tying a different ribbon so they don’t accidently pick up the wrong jar.

  • Sounds excellent! I would love a chance to win.

    Because of mouse problems pretty much everything in my pantry is in jars — everything from gallon-sized to hold flour and rice down to 2 oz for spices.

  • Excellent heads up. Thanks for the info – I’ll be looking for these. In the meantime, I hope to win!

  • I suppose these are not such unconventional uses, but I do use mine for storage of bulk pantry items, growing sprouts and to display my collection of sea glass. I have some of the old blue glass jars that I use for vases; they look so pretty holding flowers! Oh and I also drink out of a quart Mason jar.

  • I’d love to win these! I just started making pie in a jar and freezing them for warm Spring BBQ season! They are so cute and easy for outdoor entertaining.

  • Thanks! We’d love to add these to our canning stash… seems like we’re doing more and more every year.

  • Well, I guess you could say I’m new to canning…as in I haven’t started yet, but my unusual use of a canning jar would be the time I used one to trap a roach in a closet in Texas. (yucky!)

  • They make wonderful musical instruments! Fill them with different levels of water and tap them with a spoon or blow across the top – you can get a whole range of sounds! Or just fill ’em with beans and shake ’em for a rockin’ good time. Of course it helps if your band is known as The Rolling Kindergartners.

  • Um… I use them for everything — what counts as unusual? I DO get angry at those who use my jars for drinking, so my LEAST fave use? πŸ˜›

  • I have been into making jams and jellies for the past 2 years. I feel in love with it when me & my husband & kids moved to a small acreage in just outside of a small town & along with his mother have a huge garden & we are into growing aronia berries in our back fields. Looking forward to those berries & the things I can make. Anyway, I love the idea of those jars that have a smooth side on them for labels, perfect for our labels & we tend to sell my jams & jellies at our local farmers market. Oh the things I could do with those jars beside jams & jellies. That is what I love about the internet & blogs you can learn so many things from different people & even meet people or even read about them who enjoy doing the same things as you do.

  • I would love to have another dozen jars just in time for the canning season. I also use jars for holding spoons and forks, flowers, leftovers etc.

  • I’m not sure there are unconventional uses for canning jars. They are just so handy. Right now I’m loving half pint jars for my too grown up for a sippy cup 2 year old. They are sturdy enough that they don’t break if/when she drops them, but I don’t have to go buy more ugly plastic cups.

  • Thanks for offering the chance to win these! Even though I’ve done very little canning, it turns out we keep nearly everything in jars; I got made fun of by a coworker last year for bringing homemade strawberry lemonade to work in a jar (but it was delicious, and I still do it all the time).

  • Gracious, what *don’t* I use canning jars for? Canning, making kombucha, sprouting seeds, hanging yogurt cheeses to dry, food storage, pen storage, bead and craft item storage, dried herb storage, keeping bulk dried pasta, beans & grains, for making herbal salves (I heat herb oils in small mason jars, then add beeswax to get the correct consistency, then leave the salves in the jars for storage)… and of course for trapping spiders, bees and moths in the house, so I can take them back outside where they belong without having to kill them… πŸ™‚

  • I use a canning jar wrapped in a sock instead of a travel mug for tea–earning me lots of teasing from my boyfriend, naturally. The sock is only necessary if the jar is too hot to hold, and looks pretty weird, I have to admit. Also, I love your new banner (I usually read in Google Reader so I don’t know how new it is)!

  • I love to brew my teas in Mason jars and tote them around all day. My friends, who know I’m a teetotaler, tease me about bringing my homebrew. I recently purchased the half-gallon jars so I could brew larger quantities at the same time. It’s not too unconventional, but it’s just quirky me.

  • I have started taking my jars to the bulk section as a nice alternative to plastic bags. I just write the weight on the bottom so the cashier knows. The best part is when I get home I just put it away instead of having to transfer everything, plus I always get the right amount.

  • This is a great give away! I use canning jars for all sorts of things. Probably the most unconventional way I use them is to hold homemade laundry detergent.

  • I have just started canning with my mother. I have been amazed at what all can be canned. I would love to win these jars.

  • I used the old blue ball canning jars for the flower arrangements at my wedding. Afterwards we sold them to a woman who owns the chinese restaurant in town. so i can now enjoy chinese food and think of my wedding day.

  • I used to have β€œSalad in a Jar” parties! I would invite 10-12 people who would each bring 5-7 quart jars & lids plus 2-3 salad ingredients and their favorite dressing. I would supply the salad greens & croutons, sunflower seeds, raisins & whatever. When people left their jars were filled with a whole meal in each jar!

  • Wow. I am 75 and still canning. We have a mango tree in our yard and I can’t tell you how many jars I have canned. My favorite thing to can is apple pie filling because when you are wanting apple pie….all you need is a crust. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  • I make homemade cashew milk & keep it in a β€œmason” jar in the fridge. I dont’ know how unconventional that is, but it works for me! I also store all of my dates & prunes in jars, once I open the Costco size containers.