Various forms of plum jamI have fond childhood memories the root cellar in my grandma’s house. I’d  open the well-worn door and pull the string on the single-bulb fixture, and suddenly all of my grandma’s hard work was illuminated — colorful mason jars lined up on homemade shelves. She’d label the tops of the jars with a strip of masking tape on which she’d write the contents and the year in her neat cursive script.

“Tomatoes.”

“Dill Pickles.”

“Chili Sauce.” (She’d use this in her legendary meatloaf)

Sometimes I’d venture in there and there’d be a Redwing crock filled with cucumbers. I was wary of the crock and the submerged cukes. I much preferred to examine the jars filled with the bounty of produce grown in northeast Nebraska’s rich soil.

About 10 – 12 years ago I decided that I, too, wanted to try canning. But canning supplies were hard to find. I even called the high-end stores that sold the latest in kitchen gadgets. “There’s not a demand for canning supplies; we don’t carry them,” they said. I was disappointed.

In the end, I ordered a basic canning kit and it’s served me well over the last decade or so. These days, though, canning has experienced a resurgence in popularity. The lowly mason jar has become a cool thing in the crafting world as well. Those high-end kitchen stores now sell a wide variety of canning equipment.

It’s sort of fun to see an old skill come back to life. I think my grandma would be pleased.