People are canning like they’ve never canned before.
Just as new generations have embraced growing their own vegetables and fruit, people are discovering the joys — and challenges — of preserving their harvests.
“We’re definitely seeing a surge in popularity (of canning),” said Lauren Devine-Hager, author of the updated “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.” “Sales of Ball Brand jars are up 31 percent over last year. … That shows it’s a really growing trend.
“We’ve seen sales go up with the spread of farmers markets and more people growing vegetables,” she added. “It’s part of back to basics, eating healthy and sustainable living. People are all about doing it themselves these days.”
But there are some huge differences between today’s home canners and generations past, Devine-Hager noted.
“The reasons why we’re preserving food are very different from way back when,” she said. “Your great-grandmother canned because that was the only way her family would have enough food to get through the winter. Now, canning is an expression of the cook’s creativity. These days, few people put up 200 jars of tomatoes or 500 jars of green beans. Instead, we’re seeing a shift to much smaller batches. They’re creating a few jars of something really special.”
That could be pineapple mango chili jam or spicy dilled green beans, Devine-Hager said. “People want to jazz up old favorites. For example, strawberry jam gets spiced up with black pepper, vanilla or lemon.
“People are using social media to share ideas and recipes,” she added. “They’re posting on Pinterest and Facebook. They’re coming up with all sorts of really fun ideas.”
Also attracting attention are Ball’s commemorative blue jars. This summer marked the 100th anniversary of the Ball brother’s “Perfect Mason Jar,” the jar and two-part lid combination that’s still in use today. In honor of that milestone, the company released limited edition “Heritage Collection” pint jars in distinctive blue glass.
For beginning canners, Devine-Hager recommended making jam — and stick to the directions exactly. Jam is simple and straightforward, she added, and can instill the confidence to tackle something more difficult. (Find more recipes and tips at www.FreshPreserving.com.)
One thing remains the same: The most popular home-made preserve is still strawberry jam.
“It’s a classic staple for your home,” Devine-Hager said. “People always love it.”
Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington