This year I am going to be ready for preserving season. So ready. I am going to have all the jars I need, and all the lids and seals for those jars.
And I’m going to know where they all are, too, rather than discovering their ‘safe’ (read: obscure) storage place next winter, once the preserving season is past.
I have a problem though. To Vacola, or not to Vacola? There’s good arguments for both sides. And I have to decide quick.
Fowlers Vacola is this venerable Aussie company who have been making glass preserving jars and kits since 1915. Their jars are heavy, beautiful things – my favourites are the straight-sided ones.
Their lids are great too – a simple system involving a reusable metal lid, and a disposable rubber seal. Minimum wastage, maximum economy (once you’re set up with all your preserving gear).
Everyone I know, including me, got their vacola preserving kits and jars by combing garage sales, op-shops, and local paper classifieds over successive years. My best story is scoring a stainless steel preserving kit with 4 milkcrates of jars from our local paper, for 100 bucks.
You can, at a pinch, also buy them new. Because Fowlers Vacola are still going strong.
So here’s the thing. Although we are set up and rip-roaring ready to go on the vacola front, I’m wavering. I’m looking at the american’s system out of the corner of my eye… the Ball jars.
Ball Mason Jars are the USA equivalent of Vacola in terms of their cultural cache and history.
Their main difference is their shapes, and how their lids work: a slightly different system involving a two-piece sealing lid. And Ball lids screw on.
The Vacola lids don’t screw on. They just sit there. When opening a jar after they’ve been processed and sealed, you need to prise the lid off, and then if you don’t consume the whole jar you need to ensure they live in the fridge upright as the lid is but a cover, without it’s seal.
This might seem like a small detail, and i suppose it is – no reason to swap systems on that count, really. But then you get to pressure canning.
Pressure canning is preserving on steroids. I grew up with big vats of Vacola jars full of peaches and pears bubbling away in their water baths, which, after an hour, were declared preserved.
Pressure canning is next level stuff though.
You can pressure can anything, it seems – fruit, veggies, meat… yes meat. Once you get your pressure canning going on, you can rack up a pantry full of jars of bolognese sauce, pulled pork, smoked fish, bacon… whatever.
Yes, I guess it will taste a bit like meat in a can (but a glass one). Still, if you’re trying to figure out how to preserve the harvest without relying on your fossil-fuel powered freezer 24/7 because you lack the space and conditions to hang a cellar full of charcuterie, this seems a likely path.
And this is the big wavering point for me on Ball jars vs Vacola jars. There are instructions for canning meat safely in Ball jars. There are not, however, instructions for canning meat safely in Vacola jars.
There did used to be, and i have the old Vacola recipe books (also gleaned from garage sales) to prove it. But canning meat is only mentioned in the older versions. And some of the newer Vacola books specifically state that the system is not recommended for canning meat. Hmm.
Motivated as I am to live a happy life without giving my family botulism in our quest to live simply, you can see my dilemma.
Also, there’s the water bath vs pressure canning methods. Pressure canning takes less energy input, because the period you have the canner on the flame/gas/element for is less time per batch.
The water bath method needs to bubble for a full hour per batch (f we’re talking fruit preservation), compared to 20 minutes of the pressure canner units.
Anyone who has preserved through an Australian summer will know what I’m on about here. A system that means less time with a big hot thing in the kitchen on a blistering summer’s day? Hooray to that.
Last year I was able to argue for Vacolas because of the BPA thing, as Vacola lids are straight metal with no nasties. but now Ball have started making BPA-free lids. Which is great, but which further closes the gap.
So there we are. I haven’t quite decided how to deal with this dilemma, but i figure I have about another month before I need to have everything in place, one way or the other.
Does anyone have any stories form wither side of the Vacola/Ball fence to shed light here? Thanks in advance…
** Addition: just to clarify, i’m not talking about turfing out our vacola jars or system, but i am looking to get more jars than what we have, and I have the kit to use both types…
I’ve got no insight to deliver as I have only used Vacola but I’m with you on the Vacola lids. There’s always the risk of stewed plums or whatever being spilled all through the fridge.
Yes! Or the multiple memories of, in my case…
Snap On Fowlers Vacola plastic, green lids! However, they don’t make a solid seal on some older (than 1975) jars.
But there are plastic lids available in two sizes that fit the Vacola jars – in fact the smaller ones also fit standard tins as well – so we use them all the time! Lid issue therefore not an issue.
My Grandma’s Fowler Vacola jars vanished somewhere else, not here, and when it came down to it I chose Ball Mason because *cough* the jars are gorgeous. Even though we have to ship them in. I had good advice from an expert elderly Gerringong preserver to buy new, buy once, to save any heartache of tiny cracks or dints in imperfectly stored jars, leading to non sealing jars aka killing your whole family with botulism. I’m still a huge Ball Mason fan. I haven’t tried pressure canning yet, I use an enormous stock pot. Maybe this year. xxx
I use vacola jars to can things like chicken, chicken stock, corn kernels, coconut milk, chickpeas, kidney beans and more and with no problems. I too like the ball jars aesthetically but I had heard (via a friend) that the bpa free lids were no go for pressure canning so I would look into that before deciding. It may decide the issue for you. 🙁 My thoughts on ball/vacola jars is stick with what you have. The vacola jars don’t fit quite so neatly as the ball jars in the presto canner (which I have) but they work just fine.… Read more »
I know people who happily pressure can with vacola jars. I got water bath preserve with them, and I’m considering investing in a pressure canner to extend their usability. Honestly, if you’ve already got them, why wouldn’t you use them? Think of the energy wasted on shipping over your new ball jars when you’ve already got usable ones at hand. The snap on lids for vacola jars are awesome. I know the ball jars are cute, and all over pinterest, but use what you’ve got.
Yeah we do pressure can with our current vacolas with fruit etc, and they’re fine for that… it’s the meat thing for me really… And the vacola snap-on lids are good, but not water tight.
I should point out that we of course WILL use our current vacolas, of course, but for future adventures and replacements… hmm..
Vacola make snap on/off green plastic lids for their jars. Don’t know about the BPA-freeness of same, but they’re not actually in contact with the contents in a partially empty jar.
I too would stick with what I’ve got.
Beat me to it on the lids. But I can confirm that they (mine at least) are air and water-tight. Just tried it.
Ah seems the vacola can be used for your jam and fruits and get the pressure cooker for the meat and veges which is what I intend to do. I was disappointed after buying my vacola things to find that it wasn’t suitable for veges and meat. Also I noticed the ball system is now available in Big W.
Thanks for the Big W tip.
I have been thinking the same thing…looking at from a energy perspective (we had a power out for 3 days) pressure canning has many advantages (you also don’t need as much acidity/sugar) to regulate safety from what I’ve read. I’ve seen a few on etsy and I think I will grab one. They do need to be keep produce out of the light (dark spot) and below 30C (ideally I would store canned items around 10 C (like a cellar if I had one). I’ve also just used 2nd hand jars in my vacola kit that sealed better than the… Read more »
As a Yank, I say go with the Ball system due to it’s versatility. I’m only a beginning canner, yet experienced folks I chat with pressure can tomato sauces, meats, etc. just fine with the Ball system. In fact stories of whole cows being canned are true. When a farm wife had unexpected guests, she was able to whip together a delicious meal in the time it takes to boil a potato because she had canned meat on hand to heat up. Save your precious freezer space for those delectable cuts that have bones involved like Leg of Lamb or… Read more »
As an American, I am only familiar with the ball system, but I love the look and size of the vacola jars. I would use both. Save the ball jars for pressure cooking and use the nicer vacola jars for jams & fruits. Here in the US, I look for vintage glass jars but always use new (BPA-free) liners and rings to assure a tight seal.
Kentucky, USA, girl here to tell you how much I adore reading about y’all’s work. And if you are interested in learning more about American canning of all sorts of things, then I suggest you follow imstillworkin over on youtube.com. She is an authority that is most trustworthy to ensure safe processing of fruit, vegetables and meat. Her canning playlist can be found here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL42B152A0DA61DBA5
She is a treasure explaining the researched reasons behind the steps that she details. Admired and trusted by many. Best of luck…!!
I find Le Parfait canning jars system (http://www.leparfait.com/le-parfait-super-jars) to work better for pressure canning, jams, meat, everything – all you need to change is the rubber seal. Easy. Ecological. Practical. I grew up on those in Europe and they’re still going strong.
Oh dear. Another choice. Thanks.
OK, I ended up writing quite a bit, as I will now post it to the FAQ on Growing Home’s Preserving page, for anyone interested! If anyone wants a list of resources/ recommended reading: http://www.growing-home.com.au/harvest/food-preservation-storage-methods-faq/# I have been preserving high acid foods (i.e. stone fruit, tomatoes etc.) in a Fowlers Vacola since 2009, in their electric Simple Preserving Unit. However, I do most of my condiments (i.e. relish, chutneys, sauces, pickles) in a ‘boiling water bath’, though, as it is quicker, and easier to get my large stock pot out for small batches. In early 2012, we got an All-American… Read more »
Wow – thanks Bec! Awesome.
I also didn’t say, that I really find having a pressure canner worthwhile, it just gives you that bit more freedom, and confidence, when canning anything that might be ‘borderline’ high acidic (ie. salsa or pasta sauce with added ingredients). Anything low acid MUST be done in a pressure canner, so if I add low acid ingredients, i.e. capsicum, chillies, onion, herbs etc. to tomato products, I know I have the ‘safety net’ of pressure canning them.
A few more pressure canning resources I recommend (if you have time to read): http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/using_press_canners.html
I only make small batches of jams, chutneys,and various curd, so tend to use recycled jars. But I have problems finding new pop top lids – Bec you mentioned that there are a few places For tomatoes/passatas. Bec – you mentioned several places to buy new pop top lids in various sizes. Can you elaborate? And thank you so much for your detailed knowledge on all things preserved. Kirsten – perhaps a bet each way might be worth it? Get some of the Balls jars and try them out if you can. I actually saw them in various sizes in… Read more »
And no worries! (We are originally from the Coffs area, by the way!)
UK equivalent Kilner jars and they’ve changed over my lifetime. they use the same system as the Mason jars now, but used to have a rubber ring plus a glass lid with a metal screw band. the modern ones are metric sizes too. It’s bottling, not canning, here. for many years I thought the Americans used metal cans in a canner. I have a pressure cooker I’ve had since the 70’s and it has instructions for bottling chicken but the modern ones don’t have any bottling instructions. Can’t decide whether it’s worth getting an American pressure canner or not.
There is a reason why modern pressure cookers don’t have instructions for canning. http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets/pressurecookers.html
I like to pressure can because water is at a premium during the dry months and the pressure can means so much less heat and steam to deal with during the hot weather. I hardly do any water bath anymore, now that I bought a second pressure canner I can hardly keep up with two. If it’s really hot i use a Camp Chef stove outside and that is the bomb! Do both kinds of jars, the lids are reusable for dry storage or freezer stored goods. We still use the freezer for some things and freezing in glass canning/freezing… Read more »
I am in the US and can quite a bit, all fruit jams particularly, the Ball jars work beautifully. There is the 1 1/2pint size that has straight sides, they are really nice. The 4 oz size i use for the jams that I sell to tourists for gifts, mix and match. Your canned foods look yummy! linda
On 10/7/13, Milkwood: homesteading skills for city & country
Ball jar processing time depends on the food and the size of jar. A pint of salsa goes 15 mins; a half pint if grape jelly goes 5 mins; a quart of raw pack tomatoes goes 45 mins of an hour. Pressure canning uses much less fuel but keep in mind, 15 minutes of processing is preceded by bringing 2-3 quarts if water to a boil, 10 mins of venting, a few minutes of coming up to pressure, THEN you processing time, then time to depressurize. So it’s not necessarily faster per batch. You can also get reusable lids for… Read more »
What an awesome thread. We have accumulated some 350 FV jars for our store (only paid for around $40 of them at op shop prices and the rest have been free) and have only dabbled on a few occasions with preserving. We just know that we will will use it more as we start to produce more in our garden. We have both green and brown lids for our jars and find there are lots of subtle differences in jars of the same size. Sometimes the lids are watertight and other times they just slide right off. The quality of… Read more »
Wow, this has been a really useful blog and thread for me, I’ve been getting Mother Earth News for a while now and had been reading all about Pressure Canning and looked into getting one (haven’t yet, pressure cookers in general scare me, much less their supersized cousins) so it’s been really good to see everyone’s thoughts and experiences with the pressure canners. I have a good stash of FV jars under the house just waiting for the day when I break out my orange and yellow retro FV outfit, at the moment I just sterilise the jars (been re-using… Read more »
Wow! Dixiebelle’s summary and links are great. I’ve been using FV jars in a presto pressure canner for beans, Mexican style chilli, meatballs, soups etc and love the accessibility of opening a jar and just heating it up. I know from an energy perspective storing dried beans may be better but I’ve found it useful to have them cooked and ready to go (especially for soup in winter). I’ve had as many problems with breakages with water bath and pressure canning and it is largely the jars – all are second hand and some date back to the 50’s. Oh,… Read more »
I have just started pressure canning using a mix of FV and Balls jars. Still nervous but the pantry is starting to look like it should! I have preserved 50kg of tomato – canned whole, as passata, as tomato sauce, pasta sauce and dehydrated. Building my skills before canning meat.
One summer savvy suggestion: I have a 70s electric FV unit and I run it on an extension cord out onto the verandah: bliss to have the steam outside!
Yes! Hear you on that 🙂
Reblogged this on The Violet Verge and commented:
I have about 2 dozen vacola bottles int eh shed a gift from an ex work colleague. Just need to source one of the original water baths. Need to get in contact with mum to see if she still has hers.
Beautiful rainbow preserves! Making my mouth water. You asked for thoughts: 1. Local sourcing will continue to be an issue for Mason jars, not many of those hanging around Oz garage sales, plus the usual frustrations of running two parallel systems, staying up to date with two lots of accessories and so on when, for most of us, just one lot is tricky enough. 2. I’m a bit surprised about advice against using Fowlers’ system for the full range of preserves. When is a seal not a seal? It would be interesting to read the science on this. 3. I… Read more »
A vacuum seal only shows that the jars, lids & contents have been heated, and as it cools, the oxygen is forced out. An airtight seal can indicate that no contamination or oxygenation of the contents has occurred after processing (unless, of course, the seal is lost during the storing period). However, it is not an indication of whether the contents have been heated to the high enough temperature (and kept there for the time required) to kill the bad bugs. I think the question about using Fowlers Vacola jars in something other than Fowlers Vacola units, is that the… Read more »
Apologies for the typos! I am supposed to be outside with the chooks, getting our sweet potato patch ready!
So now I’m worried about following USDA recommendations using Fowler and/or recycled jars… the first lot of preserves (fruit and green tomato pickles) just didn’t go uneaten long enough to really test their resilience!! And I suppose I really must throw out that years-old jar of beautiful cherries that went unnoticed until way past the 12-month deadline???
Like I said, it’s a decision you make weighing up the pro’s and con’s, and think about it like this, ‘Did I follow the process and steps correctly? Were my jars and equipment in good condition? Have I stored my preserved food in the right conditions?’ Ultimately I think it comes down to this, “If in doubt, throw it out” because whilst the chances of food poisoning occurring may be low, the consequences may be severe. I know, it is hard to throw food out (especially home grown, home cooked, home preserved food!)… people who are into preserving and growing… Read more »
I canned with a variety of Mason/Ball jars for over 20 years in the USA, fruits, veggies, pickles, Meat, and jams. I often hot-packed things; hot jars, hot jam or sauce, with not one problem. I never used a pressure canner but used a hot water bath for beans, peaches, pears, plums, etc. Once in a while I’d get a jar that didn’t seal so would pop it in the refrigerator and use it within a few days. I like the idea of using an outside spot for hot water baths in this climate. I used a large fireplace with… Read more »
I am only familiar with the ball jars. I’m a fan, but still don’t like the fact that the metal/rubber lid needs to be replaced once it wears out… in comes these infinitely (or so I’ve heard) reusable lids, which I will be trying this year…. tattler lids (and yes they’re bpa free) – http://www.reusablecanninglids.com. So if you do decide on the ball jars, be sure to try some of these once your lids wear out.
Ball vs Vacola. USA vs Australia When I was interning at Polyface and observing all the canning they had/ did, of coarse everything was Ball. (Except… for the two vacolas I found hiding in the back of Missy’s pantry. “What are you doing with these” I asked. “Where did you find them”. One was empty and the other had a fruit cake preserved in it from none other than our Lisa Heenan.) Missy was confused about our vacola lid system and wondered why we didn’t use a threaded lid. I had no answer to this. But I must say using… Read more »
I use Ball jars as I live in the USA. I use them with Tattler Lids which are completely reusable–NO waste. With regular Ball lids, you have to replace the flat disks each time.
I do both water bath and pressure canning, depending on what I am trying to preserve.
Im wondering if those Tattler lids would also fit the vacola jars.
Did you ever find out? I have a lot of tattler lids and the regular mouth fits on my no.27 bottles. I’ve never been game to try.
Where do you buy the pressure cookers in Australia?
Pressure cooker, or pressure canner? If you want to do canning/ bottling, it is recommended NOT to use a pressure cooker, but you need a specially designed pressure canning unit, with proper gauges. You can buy several brands of pressure canners at OzFarmer http://ozfarmer.com/food-preserving/pressure-cookers-canners OR you can buy Presto brand here: http://www.redbacktrading.com.au/index1.html If you are just looking for a pressure cooker (to make super fast meals… they are very handy) you can try places like Big W, or kitchenware shops. You can, of course, also cook under pressure using the pressure canner as a pot. You can cook in a… Read more »
Thank you Bec for the advice on pressure cookers or canners. I need to have a pressure cooker (or canner???) for sterilising straw etc to grow mushrooms in – so could I use the pressure canner for that? We were advised to get the America brand for that, which I now assume is a canner.
If you have not tried out a steam canner vs doing a water bath you should. You use less water and it takes less time to heat up. Cook time is about 40-45 minutes. Love your site and exploration into bringing real food to people and helping our world be a better place.
I am VERY new to this, so it may be a silly question. My Grandpa is buying me a Fowlers Vacola unit for our new house. I can’t find info anywhere on whether I can buy Mason Jars with screw top lids and use them with my new FV unit?
Or the Le Parfait jars? Can I use them with my FV?
Try emailing the Fowlers Vacola company (it can take a while to hear back from them), but from my point of view, you could certainly use them, but the FV system and times are based on certain types of FV jars/ sizes etc. I feel that the Ball Mason jars and FV jars similiar density, both have proper preserving lid systems, and can be used interchangeably, but that is just my opinion. I don’t know anything about other types of jars, like Le Parfait, so maybe someone else can help you there. Fowlers Vacola method is like a ‘slow water… Read more »
I have often phone fowlers vacola and had long chats and detailed answers to my questions on the spot. If emailing takes a while then a quick call may be better.
While fv water bath takes longer, with ball mason you generally pack the food hot. I find it takes a similar time overall or maybe longer for mason waterbath.
I mean the types of jars can be used interchangeably, NOT that the lid systems can be!!
Hi Catherine, sorry I know its late but ozfarmer.com have a lot of info (and videos) on the different methods 🙂
My parents have been preserving fruit and tomatoes for years. And I mean years. I remember well each summer preserving apricots, peaches, cherries, nectarines, plums for winter. We never wanted to look another stone fruit in the face again. In all that time we have never gotten sick from our preserves. I have now got the preserving kit over here to do some tomatoes for my family for the following year, and living in the Yarra Valley we have lots of stone fruit available to us over summer. I was just looking at using the screw top system of preserving… Read more »
Your jars are beautiful! Thanks for educating me about these different types of jars. And I love all the comments on this post. They were equally helpful!
I was a FV fan until I discovered the jars are now made in china and the seals (which fail much more than the old ones) are now manufactured in India. I find the Ball jars much easier to use, cheaper and are really pretty 🙂
From an American now living in New Zealand: the Vacola system is new to me and I found this post while looking for info on it. Now that I know, I’ll happily stick with my Bell/Mason jars. The single clincher for me is processing time. Bell jars need only be boiled for 15-20 minutes; the idea of a full hour is just unbelievable to me! Shorter processing time not only means less energy expended, but a better-textured product, too. Longer processing times = softer fruits and veggies. I’d expect Vacola-preserved things to be mushier than I’m accustomed to.
With ball mason you usually cook the food first and pack it hot into hot jars, then boil about 10 min. With vacola you usually pack raw, cold fruit into cold (room temp) jars and then put them into cold water. That hour includes bringing the water to the correct temp. The food is cooked in the jars. So it doesn’t actually end up any mushier.
I’ve been preserving for 35 years using Fowlers Vacola Jars – I’ve have an amazing collection of vary Vacola jars as well (over 500 of them) – and use them in an old copper-tinned water bath as well as a pressure canner. No problem preserving, meats, vegetables, whatever, using vacola jars in the pressure canner. I have a very old Fowlers book that tells you how. I live on acres, live a sustainable life and have more than 30 books published on the natural lifestyle and sustainable living. If anyone is interested in making contact, you can Google Alan Hayes… Read more »
I was stumped by all the choices when I first got back into preserving 2 years ago (I had put my own fowlers boiler & jars out for junk collection years ago as they’d just sat in the cupboard unused for about 20 years……ah, the irony). Anyway, I tried Quattro Staggioni (Italian, BPA free lids) – useless – the seals only worked about 50% of the time for me. Ball Mason – worked o.k., but I don’t like the waste from disposable lids, guilt from transport miles – also put off by BPA in lids which I found out about… Read more »
Thanks for that wrap up. I was still a bit confused what I was going to do between mason ball jars and fowlers. The day before you posted that comment, my grandpa ordered me a new fowlers vacola unit because that’s what they’ve always used. Your comment now makes me feel better and glad we went that way. Thank you 🙂
You know that the size 14 bottles are available again due to popular demand.
I have added to my grandmother’s and mother’s bottles over the years (about 35 years) and was going to sell some, but am now having second thoughts. Now that I am retired I have more time, so maybe I won’t be too hasty.
oh really? thats excellent news 🙂
can you use normal tomato sauce jars after using from supermarket? i mean thay were prob sealed in same way, or can you buy similar ones they use, prob cheap?
I don’t see why not. As long as you can clean them well
I use FV jars and came across the site, I was looking for reusable silicon seals. I also use the quick oven method of preserving as I dont have a FV kit, its a lot quicker.
I grew up with fowlers vacola and im just starting to get into it myself but im unsure as to what unit to get myself. Do you preserve things like spag sauce (meat) in your fowlers vacola unit? Im not too sure if i need the presure unit or just waterbath?
Vacola no longer says you should can meat with their system,i think b/c the water bath can’t get it hot enough. the pressure canning systems, like mason, are suitable though.
Mind you, previous vacola manuals included meat, but current ones dont…
Does this discussion make it easier or harder to make a decision?! I grew up in Canada and all my preserving gear has been slowly brought over in suitcases stuffed with socks and underwear. We use Bernardin Mason (basically the same as Ball) and they are everywhere in op shops and garage sales and everyone’s basements. But it’s hard to find replacement seals and lids here and with this CV19 stuff who knows when anyone from Canada is going to be dropping by anytime soon – so I just started collecting Vacolas 5 minutes ago. I wanted to use second… Read more »
I know this is an old thread, but what did you end up deciding? Have you invested in one or the other? I’m new to Milkwood so perhaps I’ve missed it so far. I’m really keen to get into canning as we’re not big jam/preserves consumers. But being able to ‘can’ casseroles etc for power outages, travel and those hot days when cooking is too much of an effort is really appealing to me. Unfortunately my husband is really OCD about food safety, so I’m trying to find the right option to invest in. Would be very interested in your… Read more »
Well, we ended up going with both really, bc we use a pressure cooker for mushroom culitvation. But basically we waterbath/vacola all our fruit (and tomatoes) and pressure can everything else 🙂
I’ve read the whole thread, but I want to know: can I use my ball jars in my FV unit? I was given a whole stack of ball jars and don’t want them to go to waste, but I’ve only ever done Fowler’s jars in my FV.
yes you can use ball jars in a FV unit for waterbathing 🙂
Can you definitely use FV jars for pressure canning???
I only have 24 Ball Mason jars & probably 80 FV jars.
I really want to try canning chicken, should I keep the BM ones for meat or will it be ok in the FV jars?
Heya Nicole – for meat, I would probably stick to the BM jars, just to be extra-sure… but yes, you can pressure can in FV jars! I would use fresh seals each time tho. Good luck 🙂
I was about to ask the same thing!
The Ball jars will need to get a lot cheaper before I get to excited about them.
I’ve used my vacola jars in my pressure canner with great success🤫
yes so have we – though I’m not sure I’d use them for pressure canning anything that wasn’t quite acidic or salty, after reading up about it…
I have and use both systems. I’ve had vacola for about 25 years and mason for maybe 10-15 (I can’t remember when we could finally get them easily here, but that’s when I got them). Generally I use vacola for jars of fruit preserves, like a jar of peaches in juice, and for tomatoes. These things are used all in one go most of the time. The vacola system is easier as it’s pretty much the same instructions for everything. It’s also less mess as you generally pack the fruit raw. Vacola is so simple – pack raw fruit, cover… Read more »
In NZ they use a similar system as the Ball lid. Called Perfit. Each year you just buy some new seal lids and they screw on with screw seal like the Ball lot. What I liked about them …after coming from Australia and only knowing Vacola was that you didn’t have to seal in the hot water stuff. You would have syrup boiling, add fruit cook for 5 mins then fill straight into jars TO OVERFLOWING, then place your seal on top tighten screw lid and they were done. They have a dimple that sinks if vacuum is done. So… Read more »