“The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday…but never jam today” – Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland
The process of canning has not changed that much since it’s invention in 1795 when Napoleon had a contest to find someone who could help him safely transport food for his troops. The process stayed the same until the mid 1800’s when John L. Mason invented the mason jars that we know today and water bath canning in the 1900’s.
Within the last several years the popularity of canning has surged. According to a Sacramento Bee article, Ball Canning is reporting a 31% increase in their sales for 2013. No longer the hobby of gardeners and grannies, hobby canners range from your urban hipster to the average country farmer.
However, the question we need to ask is “Why?” Why is canning suddenly the new it trend?
A few factors can be attributed to this homespun trend. First of all, the economy. Back in the 1920’s canning was a very popular way for families to help preserve food and save money. There were also canning co-ops where people would gather together to learn to can food, can in large quantities and bring food home. Today we may not be in the midst of a depression but the idea of creating a jar of strawberry jam or some pickles to save money for the family is definitely a driving force.
Secondly, as the local food movement has grown so has our desire to know exactly what is in our food. Have you taken a look at what’s in a jar of jam on a shelf lately? I can tell you what’s in my strawberry jam: strawberry’s, sugar and lemon juice.
It connects us with our ancestry. I can make a batch of pickles that are just as tart as my great grandfather’s. By canning I am connecting with a tradition that my great grandparents and other ancestors before them.