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Overloaded From Your Garden? Just Can It

Canning — the source of jams, pickles and relishes that can seem tied to the last century — is on the upswing. There is a debate whether the trend stems from the tight economy or the local food movement, but its fans say the results are delicious.

Food blogger Cathy Barrow says she cans to enjoy fresh and local food through the winter, and into the next growing season.

"I guess it was four or five years ago, I started going to farmers markets five times a week," Barrow tells Linda Wertheimer. "And I get enamored of the food, I can't help myself. And there are only two of us, but I come home with enough for eight -- so I had to learn to do something with it."

The idea of canning 20 pounds of vegetables may seem like a daunting task, but Barrow insists that it's easy to learn. To spread the gospel, she teaches canning classes and blogs about it on her Web site, Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen.

"I want to dispel the notion that it's hard and takes a lot of time to can," she says.

It may not take time, but it does take tools -- most of it from the hardware store, and not very expensive: a case of jars, which comes with lids that seal. Barrow boils the lids and rings in a saucepan, and runs the jars through a cycle in the dishwasher to sterilize them.

In addition to cookbooks and recipes, Barrow collects canning equipment. Her favorite tool, she says, is a magnetic lifter, to get lids and rings out of hot water. "It was 99 cents and it stopped me from burning my fingers, so that was a good move," Barrow says.

And then there's the sound that every home canner loves to hear -- the little thunk that tells you the lid is airtight, and a morning of hard work has ended with delicious food safely sealed.

"The music of the jars!" Barrow says.

Cathy Barrow shares recipes for Peach Salsa, Pickled Green Tomatoes, Fig Confiture, and Crushed Tomatoes.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.