Kerr-ful Canning: Preservation at Home

Wander the shelves that contain our History of Food and Drink Collection and you’ll find lots about preservation: canning, freezing, pickling, and drying texts abound. We’ve covered preserving from a home perspective (pickling recipes from handwritten manuals) and canning from a women’s publication. Today, we’re turning to the professionals.

Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corporation began in 1903 as a distributor of glass jars and related canning supplies and still remains a household name today (at least where food preservation is concerned). This week, we’re featuring the 1948 Kerr Home Canning Book. It’s a practical “how-to,” chock full of instructions, recipes, and even a FAQ! Recipes range from the expected (fruits, veggies, jellies/jams/preserves, butters and conserves, and pickles) to the less common (fish, meats,  and soups/stocks) to the downright “Unusual Foods” section (featuring plum pudding, milk, and tamales).

Home canning, a staple during the early 20th century, also proved vital to storing and rationing during World War II. In more recent years, it has seen a revival in all kinds of communities, with farmers markets, CSAs, and home gardens. Although the information has certainly changed some (you don’t necessarily want to rely on the 1948 FAQ when it comes to modern technologies), the reasons behind and interest in home canning processes have not.

Here at Special Collections, we have Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corporation publications from the 1940s up through the 1990s in both the library catalog and the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, as well as publications from the competition (Ball Brothers, Co., later Ball Corporation) dating from the 1920s-1970s. Feel free to stop by and peruse. We might have just the recipe for extra fruits and veggies (and rabbit meat if you’re looking to make “Bunny Sausage”).

P.S. If anyone can explain the porcelain dolls and elves to me, I’d love to hear your theories. I’m still not quite sure what either have to do with food preservation…

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