Canning foods is something our mothers and grandmothers did. Not us.
But this homemade art is making a comeback. Ball Corp., the maker of those ubiquitous Mason jars and other canning equipment, saw a 30 percent increase in retail sales last year, and sales continue to rise in 2009.
Ball hired a market research company to find out who is causing this upswing. The answer: men and women ages 35 to 50. Their traditional customer had been a rural woman who was older than 50.
Maybe it's the recession. Maybe it's the focus on eating local foods and eating in season: To do so in winter, you have to put up summer's bounty. Whatever the reason, I'm here to tell you: It's not as hard as you think.
I canned for the first time last year. I canned peach preserves, fig jam, whole figs and strawberry jam. Last weekend, I did dill pickles. It's not a lot of work, but it does take time and patience. I consider it early Christmas shopping because I'm making presents for people.
One note: These are instructions for water bath canning, which can be used to make jams, jellies, pickles and preserves and to can tomatoes. For low-acid vegetables, such as green beans or vegetables that you are not pickling, you'll need to use a pressure canner to prevent bacterial growth. Otherwise, you could make your family or friends sick. That's no present.
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