A Mason Jar Shortage Is Hitting Preserve-Loving Quarantiners

That pandemic garden you started may be ready for harvest, but good luck storing your crops for winter.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to all sorts of shortages: Yeast, meat, carbon dioxide, and, of course, toilet paper, just to name a few. But though some shortages were short-lived, others are sticking with us—or even getting worse—like when jam season struck and, suddenly, America started facing a lack of Mason jars.

“I call it ‘Sourdough 2.0’—it was the next craze of what people are doing in the kitchen because they have extra time,” Marie Bregg, owner of the online retailer Mason Jar Merchant, told CNN. The reasoning is extremely straightforward: Lockdowns hit in the spring, and many people looking for stay-at-home activities turned to strengthening their garden game. When harvest arrived, these Pandemic Times green thumbs realized they had more crops than they bargained for—especially without the ability to serve them to large groups of friends—and so preserves became the sensible solution. Bregg added, “Our sales basically went up 600% [in mid-August] and haven't dropped since.”

Jars of a Variety of Homemade Jam
StephanieFrey/Getty Images

For the record, CNN explains that the jars themselves aren’t the toughest part to track down since the glass is reusable; instead, it’s the two-piece lids—and, in particular, the single-use metal discs—which are reportedly the biggest problem. And manufacturers are doing what they can. “We have increased glass production, found additional lid manufacturers and expanded our pack out locations to replenish stock as quickly as possible,” Newell Brands—owner of the brands Ball and Kerr—told the news site in a statement.

But speaking of Ball, though Ball’s home canning business (such as Mason jars) is now owned by Newell Brands, the original Ball Corporation is still a major producer of aluminum cans for beverages, and they too are dealing with shortages as cans have proved to be a hot coronavirus commodity. So basically, whether you want to can your own preserves at home or drink beverages out of a can, 2020 is not your year. You’re probably best off standing in your garden, eating your veggies right off the stem.

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