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After a spring explosion of home gardens, canning is really having a moment — and creating shortages.

By Maddy Sweitzer-Lamme
August 26, 2020
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Over the shoulder view of woman slicing beetroot into preserves jar in kitchen
Credit: Nat and Cody Gantz/Getty Images

Canning jars, cans, and lids are sold out across the country as a new generation of preservers and picklers are putting up the summer's bounty. According to The Washington Post, one hardware company's sales of canning equipment are up more than 600 percent, an incredible surge for a pastime that has often been dismissed as too complicated, time consuming, and challenging.

Experts are connecting the increase in canning to the increased sales of seeds that occurred earlier in the year, as families who were stuck at home used the extra time to plant gardens. Those gardens are now likely yielding more fruits and vegetables than people know what to do with. And so they can.

The Washington Post also connects people's interest in canning to the sense of unease that is overwhelming the culture right now: The coronavirus pandemic, like other major events that have disrupted American's lives, is causing people to distrust the food system's supply chains. The memory of empty shelves in grocery stores in March is a good motivation to make sure your pantry is self-sufficient.

Plus, preserving offers a little control in a very unstable time: canned tomatoes promise a good meal come November, no matter the state of the world. Homemade jam, with its concentrated flavor of peak-season fruit, offers the security that your child's peanut butter and jelly sandwich is covered, no matter where they're attending school this fall. No wonder all the canning supplies are sold out.