A Global Look at Some Home Canning Activity Today

A nationwide telephone survey was conducted by the National Center for Home Food Preservation in conjunction with the Survey Research Center, University of Georgia, between October 24, 2000 and January 10, 2001. Interviews about home canning and freezing practices were completed with 501 adults from households randomly selected across the U.S.*

  • 27% of respondents reported canning food at home in 1999.

  • 48% of these individuals obtained their canning instructions from friends or relatives while 19% consulted cookbooks for the purpose.

  • 67% reported using their home-canning instructions "as is", while 29% adapted them for use.

  • The most common products canned were vegetables (71% of respondents), followed by tomatoes/tomato products (60%), and then fruits and fruit products (47%).

  • USDA recommends boiling water or pressure methods for canning fruits and tomatoes. 58% of 103 respondents canning fruits and tomatoes used a boiling water canner, 15.5% a pressure canner, and18% a pressure cooker. A rather high percentage (21%) used the "open-kettle" method (no processing after filling), and almost 4% reported using the oven for "canning" method.

  • USDA recommends using a pressure canner for processing vegetables other than tomatoes (as well as for other low-acid foods). 30% of 96 respondents canning vegetables used a pressure canner and 29% used a pressure cooker. Many people are using methods putting them at high risk for foodborne illness from home-canned vegetables, including botulism. 39% reported using the boiling water canner, 15% the open-kettle method, and 3% the oven.

  • 62% (84) reported that they had no seal failures on jars; 38% (51) reported having jars that did not seal properly.

  • Of those canning fruits and fruit products in 1999, 49% (31) reported canning 20 quarts or less. Another 20% canned between 24 and 40 quarts; 14% canned between 48 and 64 quarts; and, 8% canned 100-200 quarts of fruits.

  • Of those canning tomatoes in 1999, 45% (34) reported canning 20 quarts or less. Another 25% canned between 24 and 40 quarts; 16% canned 50-70 quarts; and 12% canned 100 or more quarts.

  • Of those canning vegetables other than tomatoes in 1999, 34% (27) canned 20 quarts or less. Another 30% canned between 21 and 40 quarts; 20% canned 48-80 quarts; and 9% canned 100 or more quarts.

  • Of those making pickles or pickled vegetables, 40% (22) canned 10 quarts or less. Another 22% canned between 12 and 20 quarts; 33% canned between 25 and 100 quarts; and 2 people reported canning more than 100 quarts of pickles or pickled vegetables.

  • Of those making jams and jellies, 42% (30) canned 10 quarts or less. Another 28% canned between 12 and 20 quarts; 24% canned between 24 and 50 quarts; and 2 people reported canning more than 50 quarts of jam or jelly.

* These complete interviews were obtained from a larger pool of 5,259 numbers called; 1,244 households were found to be eligible based upon being asked if, in 1999, anyone either canned foods or froze foods other than foods that were purchased in the supermarket. The total cooperation rate for the study was thus 40.3%. All interviews were conducted with standardized quality-control procedures, and approximately 20% of interviews were monitored to help eliminate interviewer errors. The respondents were asked a total of 68 closed-response or open-ended questions and they were free to skip any questions that they chose not to answer.

This material is based upon work supported by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Agreement No. 00-51110-9762.