Jugs, Gills and Jars

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

When I was a child, yoghurt was just beginning to be sold in plastic pots, but glass jars were still common, particularly in Europe. In England, the volumetric capacity of a jar of yoghurt was a gill (pronounced jill), which contained 5 imperial fluid ounces, or one-quarter of a pint. This was the perfect size for a portion of yoghurt and was equivalent to 142 ml. When I first started making yoghurt on opening the B&B, I used the jars that came with the yoghurt incubator, which were the only option available at the time. It’s the empty jar in the middle of the picture. It takes 220 ml, and I have found that guests barely get through half a jar most of the time, leaving the rest to waste. Some guests want just a spoonful on their fruit or cereals. It meant that when making my weekly batches of yoghurt I was using a lot of milk and wasting a lot too, as there’s only a certain amount of leftovers that I or the cats can consume. If a couple of guests each want a full portion of yoghurt, then one jar could be a little skimpy to share between them (110 ml each). I needed a better solution. In just three years, the choice of glassware available online has expanded considerably, and the nearest equivalent to the old gill that I have been able to find are the two jars on the right of the photo. I bought a few of each. By a strange optical illusion, the one on the end has a smaller capacity than its neighbour, at 130 and 135 ml respectively. The glass of the 130 ml jar is a lot thicker and clearer than the 135 ml jar; the round shape is nicer too and the lid is better quality. I’d definitely get more of these, which are now my favourite jars.

I’ve also recently withdrawn the larger of the two white ceramic jugs from circulation. The two sizes of jugs were displayed in the guests’ kitchen for guests to help themselves to milk and take up to their rooms. I’d assumed that most guests would pick the small jug, but hardly anyone does. Even if it is just one person staying rather than two, everyone picks the larger jug, fills it right up to the top — it holds 200 ml, or about a third of a pint — and then leaves more than half of it in their room overnight to go sour. The unused milk must then be thrown away. The small jugs (95 ml) may look like something you’d find in a dolls’ house, but they hold more than you might imagine, and certainly enough for a couple of cuppas unless you want an American-style latte. Optical illusion at play again!