Canning lid shortage impacts gardeners

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 4:11 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - While the pandemic canceled many summer plans, it also gave people a chance to try new hobbies. For some, that meant planting a garden for the first time.

And now, gardeners are faced with what to do with all that produce.

Many are learning to can, but that’s presenting a whole new set of challenges.

Valerie Schneider isn’t letting this box out of her sight.

“A friend just gave me a bunch of lids,” says Schneider, who sells canned goods at the Capital Farmers Market.

Those lids are a hot commodity this year.

“I have bought jars just to have the lids,” says Schneider.

Because without lids, Schneider’s canning business would stop.

“You can’t seal them and they would spoil right away,” she explains.

Schneider isn’t the only one searching for canning supplies.

“Usually we carry basic canning supplies, but this year we just have pectin. We have a lot of holes in our spice department right now because we’ve run out of things,” says Shirley Reese, general manager of the Bis-Man Food Co-op.

“There is more interest this year than I’ve seen in a number of years. I think the pandemic definitely has played a role in people interest in gardening. They wanted to learn something new,” adds Julie Garden-Robinson, an extension specialist with NDSU.

Now, as gardeners, new and experienced, are trying to figure out what to do with their harvest, NDSU extension is offering online classes to help.

“I want them to go to credible sources when they are looking for information on canning, or any type of food preservation,” says Garden-Robinson.

Meantime, at the Food Co-Op, they’re offering alternative ideas to canning.

“We’ve been encouraging our customers to look for ways to store food while they wait for canning supplies are available. They can freeze tomatoes, peppers and jalapenos. Then later, pull those vegetables out of the freezer, add fresh onion and garlic and still have a great salsa,” says Reese.

And while the shortage is a little frustrating, Garden-Robinson says from a nutrition stand point, it’s also encouraging.

“We in nutrition also want people to eat more veggies,” she says.

She says often people who grow and preserve their own vegetables, are more likely to eat them too.

If you do manage to get canning supplies, there are a number of free virtual food preservation classes available on the NDSU extension website.

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