Starting Your Own Canning Club

Make preservation a community activity and reduce food waste at the same time.

| September 2018

  • If planned right, a canning club will help you make the most out of your garden produce by allowing you to share excess harvests with other members as well as benefit from ingredients from their gardens.
    Photo by Getty/Foxys_forest_manufacture
  • “Preservation Pantry” by Sarah Marshall is an innovative guide to reducing wasted food while canning and preserving; the book includes canning recipes, meal recipes, and an introduction for those who are new to canning.
    Cover by Richard Ljoenes

Preservation Pantry (Regan Arts, 2017) by Sarah Marshall is "a whole-produce approach to modern preservation" with a special focus on eliminated wasted food during the canning and cooking process. Marshall follows sustainable practices for farm-to-table cooking and preservation which has led her to develop Marshall's Haute Sauce as well as recipes for many restaurants local to Portland, Oregon. The following excerpt share how canning can be a community activity.

The first week of the month used to feel weighted by bills, worries about everyday tasks, and to-do lists — leaving few thoughts about the future and more regrets about paying for the past. For the last few years, however, the first Wednesday of every month has instead brought anticipation and excitement. Our organizer Brooke Weeber (also this book’s illustrator) couldn't have imagined the feelings her canning club would inspire when she reached out to a small group of friends to see if we wanted to meet up and exchange canned goods. Over time, the Portland

Preservation Society has grown into much more than the canned food exchange she initiated — it is a reminder for all of us to spread creativity, joy, and delicious food.

Our meeting spot always changes, which brings with it an extra element of surprise. In the summer, we meet in members' backyards and on their front porches, taking advantage of the small window to hold outdoor events. In the winter, we get more creative, descending upon offered living rooms, favorite restaurants, and other local businesses. We see each other's gardens grow and have spent time in one another's kitchens where the goodies are canned. We assemble where the action happens and gaze upon beautiful jars and shelves packed with cookbooks and canning books, passed down from generation to generation.



When you plant a garden, you don't know what it will yield, and that is the same kind of anticipation that builds in me in the days and weeks leading up to our canning meetings. The food exchanging aspect of the group takes a bit of the pressure off each of us; no need to worry about canning every single thing you will miss in the wintertime because other members have likely done some of it for you. There is no way to know who will attend or what they will bring, but the natural ebb and flow of people and ingredients is part of the fun.

As each of our guests walks in, they pull their items out of their bags and place them on the table. Sometimes the jars are beautifully decorated with twine and encyclopedia pages, while others come unlabeled or with vague descriptions scribbled on the metal lid. I personally like to decorate my jars simply with origami paper over the lid that identifies what's inside. Getting my jars ready feels like packing up a piece of myself and giving it to someone special. It is a familiar feeling, akin to knowing you brought just the right birthday present for the guest of honor.






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