According to L.A. Weekly, home canning and pickling is one of the top 10 food trends for 2011. It’s #3, between potted meats (#2) and whoopie pies (#4). (You can see the whole list here. The #1 trend is savory pies.) Sales of canning jars are up, as is media focus on the topic. I investigated the canning trend a little bit, finding this article at Slate, which describes the home canning trend as cute, modish, and overwrought in a largely negative piece that emphasizes the investment of time, money, and energy into a fad not much worthy of reviving. They pretty much boil it down to something people do to impress their friends or out of some misguided zeal. The Slate article concludes: “There’s nothing blameworthy about the pickling and preserving fervor, but let’s be honest: It’s not about producing serious food for the future, and it’s not about shaking a fist at industrial food. (After all, it’s not Claussen and Heinz that eco-conscious consumers worry about so much as suppliers of meat, milk, and produce.) Rather, it’s about making and sharing delicious, idiosyncratic things that are also, not insignificantly, very pretty.”
I don’t think these people understand us!
While the Food Channel can sometimes be the home of the modish and overwrought, they know enough to find the right people to decipher the home canning trend of today. You can read their interview with Laura Devine of Jarden (Ball) here. She explains the home canning trend this way: “People now are wanting to take produce back into their own hands and control it themselves. They’re saying, ‘I know it’s safe. I can trust this food, because I did it myself.’ Another reason, of course, is simply taste. People love that fresh flavor. And with home canning or freezing, again, they’re in control. If they want to add fresh herbs or spices—things like garlic—they can do it. If they want less sodium in their canned tomatoes, or less sugar in their canned or frozen fruit, they can do that.” And: “Folks really like the idea of capturing the flavor of fresh produce. Another reason, I think, is the sense of accomplishment you feel when you’ve done it. It becomes sort of like a hobby for many people. And people like giving home-canned foods as gifts. There’s something special about giving a gift of something homemade.”
These are the people who understand us! And speaking of Ball….
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