Grandma’s canning: the latest pandemic food craze

By | September 5, 2020

WINNIPEG — From baking bread to starting gardens, the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed people stuck at home to explore new hobbies. Now, in the latest in the line of back to basic cooking trends, more and more people are trying canning.

Pulling out a rack of hot dilly beans, a form of pickled green beans, Kim Petriew is anything but a newbie to canning.

“The quality, the taste, just knowing what you’re putting into the products is great,” she said.

It’s a struggle for her to choose her favourite recipe, but she’ll pick her homemade salsa with a bit of coaxing.

“That’s tough because I love everything I make, and I’ve canned over 1,500 jars of food in the last year and a half,” said Petriew.

Petriew and a friend started a Facebook group called “What to do with what you grew, in Manitoba” after seeing recipe ideas constantly getting lost in gardening groups.

Lately, the Facebook group has been exploding. Petriew believes people planting vegetable gardens for the first time this summer are now wondering what to do with their harvest.

“Pickling is one of the easiest things; it only requires a water canner rack,” Petriew recommended. “It’s basically just a large stockpot with a rack on the bottom.

“You put your cans in and then fill it with water and then boil for the amount of time the recipe calls for.”

Along with being the easiest form of canning, Petriew said the acid also helps ensure safe canning.

Petriew is a big advocate for healthy and safe canning. She said new canners will want to forgo grandma’s old recipe and instead try one from an accredited source that tests for food safety.

“Botulism is rare, but it can happen,” she warned.

To be extra safe, Petriew recommends beginners stick to pickling.

“People can use plain vegetables, but that requires a pressure canner, and that is a lot more involved and intimidating to beginners,” she said

Once canned, the vegetables last for up to four or five years, according to Petriew. She did note that the quality and nutrients do degrade over time.

While it may be new for many, Petriew knows the joys of eating a fresh harvest in the dead of a Winnipeg winter.

“The quality, the taste, just knowing what you’re putting into the products is great,” she said.

CANNING SUPPLIES

At d.a.Niels Gourmet Kitchenware in Winnipeg, pandemic food trends have been a huge bonus.

“There’s been a big increase in cookware,” said Neil Baker, the owner of d.a.Niels Gourmet Kitchenware. “It’s terrific for us; the baking was just unbelievable.”

Baker said the store hasn’t quite seen the canning trend hit. He noted that bread and cookies have been two big trends this summer.

“If you eat the same meal, it gets very boring,” said Baker. “They are trying more food at home.”

Baker said people are looking for better products like knives, pots and pans.

He also believes the increased interest in food is going to stick around for a long time.

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