Because cuneiform was very complex and only scribes who had studied for years could read it, it is unlikely that the tablets were meant for everyday cooks or chefs.Instead they were written to document the culinary art of the times.Luckily, there are some tips and tricks you can use to determine an approximate age for your jar.

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The latest recorded mention of dried fruits can be found in Mesopotamian tablets dating to about 1700 BC, which contain what are probably the oldest known written recipes.

These clay slabs, written in Akkadian, the daily language of Babylonia, were inscribed in cuneiform and tell of diets based on grains (barley, millet, wheat), vegetables and fruits such as dates, figs, apples, pomegranates, and grapes.

That was the date when John Mason received his patent for the threaded screw-type closure, and it appears on many different brands of jars. Check the logos below against the logo on your jar. Ignore the Mold Number How about that big number on the bottom of many jars? The quality control people used the number on the bottom of the jar to identify which mold was producing bad jars.

The number has nothing to do with when the jar was made.

You can also go to the Midwest Antique Fruit Jar and Bottle Club website, click on “When was my Ball jar made? Join the Club While you’re there, check out the entire Midwest Antique Fruit Jar and Bottle Club web site. If you’re interested and close by, attend one of the club’s meetings, which meets regularly at Minnetrista. You’ll meet enthusiastic and knowledgeable jar collectors, including club president Dick Cole.

Dick is a retired Curator of Business and Industrial History at Minnetrista.

Drying or dehydration also happened to be the earliest form of food preservation: grapes, dates and figs that fell from the tree or vine would dry in the hot sun.

Early hunter-gatherers observed that these fallen fruit took on an edible form, and valued them for their stability as well as their concentrated sweetness.

Two Online Resources Now you know that you can determine an approximate age from the logo and that the big number on the bottom won’t help—even a “13,” but that’s a story for another day.