Pandemic canning is so popular, stores are running out of jars and other supplies

Haley Lancaster, a high school teacher in Vincennes, Ind., had always been intimidated by the idea of canning. She remembered her grandmother’s shelves lined with gleaming rows of giant jars full of beans and other vegetables, and the pressure cooker she used to fill them.

But with more time at home after the coronavirus shut down her school and all the other activities that kept her busy, Lancaster thought it suddenly seemed doable, maybe, in the way that we’re all trying things we never did before. Home schooling, DIY haircuts, TikTok dance challenges? Sure, we’re game.

She had already tried making sourdough bread, another home-cooking trend that flourished in the early days of the pandemic. And so she went online and learned, grabbed a few recipes — for water-bath canning, which doesn’t require a pressure canner like her grandmom used — and supplies at a local store. She made peach salsa that was a hit with friends and family.

And now, as late-summer harvests abound, the pandemic-fueled pastime is making it harder for people to find cans and lids, and there are reports of bare shelves on hardware and retail stores.


 

There’s evidence that canning in the pandemic is more than just a hobby for some. Sales of the all-American Pressure Cooker, the sturdy stove-top gadget used by many more serious canners to preserve meats and poultry as well as low-acid vegetables that aren’t suitable for the hot-bath method, are off the charts. The Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry, where the cooker has been in production since the 1930s, sold 14,000 units last year. They’ve already doubled that figure this year and have 23,000 more on order, the company reports.

 

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