Prolific gardener and canner Bert Revel from Salmon Arm who has won many awards for his fruit, vegetables and famous pies over the years, knows about the shortage of canning jars and lids but managed to buy some before the shortage hit. He also has a collection of jars he maintains from year to year. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Shortage of canning supplies in Shuswap and beyond a side effect of COVID-19

Stores across North America have run out of canning jars and lids

If you can’t find canning jars or lids for all the fruits and vegetables of your labour, you are not alone.

You and hundreds of gardeners and other home canners across North America appear to be in the same predicament.

At Downtown Askew’s in Salmon Arm, Manager Don Tingey said he thinks it’s unlikely people will be able to find them in any grocery stores now because Bernardin, a supplier in Canada of all things canning, appears to be out. Bernardin also lists Kerr and Ball brand jars on its website.

Tingey said wholesalers are describing the supply outage as ‘long term.’

He surmises that the suppliers probably did not expect such a fast and large increase in the number of people wanting to can, which is what happened in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier in the season, there was also a jump in the number of people buying plants and seeds for gardening.

Tingey said Downtown Askew’s has been without the standard-mouth lids since March. The wide-mouth ones were gone about a week ago and the jars before that.

He expects some people were able to find jars at thrift shops and garage sales.

In the wake of the jar and lid shortage has come a run on freezer bags, Tingey said.

The popular medium bags, in particular, have been flying off the shelves.

Read more: Seed potatoes flying off the shelves

Read more: Interest in gardening grows in the Shuswap amid COVID-19 crisis

Canadian Tire is also out of canning jars and lids, as is Save-On-Foods. A staff person at Save-On there said there have been many phone calls from people looking for canning supplies, even from Kelowna.

Salmon Arm’s Bert Revel, known locally for his many successes in the vegetable and fruit arena at the Salmon Arm Fall Fair, said he’s aware of the shortage.

He tried to get smaller jars for some canning he was doing, but managed instead to scrape enough together from his own supplies. He also bought some before the shortage hit.

Revel remembers back in the day when the glass Miracle Whip jars were the perfect size for the wide lids, so he and his wife would use them.

“We had to be very careful, they’re not as sturdy as a regular canning jar. But we didn’t have very much breakage from them.”

He also freezes some of the bounty from his vegetable garden, a practice he verifies with a smile by taking a frozen whole tomato out of his freezer and demonstrating how easily the skin comes off when you run it under hot water from the tap.

According to online articles from media across North America, the shortage of canning jars and lids is by no means limited to the Interior of B.C. The same phenomenon is reported to be happening in communities across the United States.


marthawickett@saobserver.net
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