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August 16, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Seattle-based canning celebration gets Chopped (star)

File photo by Barry Wong/The Seattle Times

File photo by Barry Wong/The Seattle Times

Three years ago, Seattle-based food writer Kim O’Donnel started a Canvolution. She asked what might happen if newcomers and devotees alike spent a day on blueberry jam, on peach chutney, on pickles and plums and pears. Inspired by a San Francisco movement called ‘Yes We Can,’ she encouraged a national Can-It-Forward day overflowing with opportunities for canning lessons and parties and mentorships and gatherings.

It’s gone big. On Saturday, the third annual event, Jarden Home Brands (they make the Ball canning jars) will sponsor a can-a-rama at New York City’s Union Square Greenmarket, featuring demos from Ted Allen of Chopped, plus “Family Fun Magazine, Rick Fields from Rick’s Pickles and Taylor Davis from Mason Jar NYC who will be mixing up cocktails in Ball jars.” (That last might be for the cute decorating factor, I don’t imagine you’re supposed to can the cocktails.) The event will be webcast live from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time (so, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Seattle time) on the Ball site over here.

Jarden hosted the first event as well, although that one was at Pike Place Market, assisted by the hard work of the local Canning Across America group that put so much effort and enjoyment into the idea. Marisa McClellan of Food In Jars even came cross-country to teach a class.

Seattle may not be the center of the event any more, but more canning can only be good for the cause. I’m thinking that some of the nicest legacy of O’Donnel and CAA’s work is that so many of us will be making jam and pickles this Saturday, not because it’s Canning Across America day, but because that’s what we’ve gotten in the habit of doing on weekend days in the heart of summer. (My latest favorite: Raspberry-rose geranium jam from Saving the Season.)

O’Donnel’s been busy publishing cookbooks and teaching cooking classes. When I asked what her plans are for Saturday, she said that, ironically, it just so happens she’ll be teaching a canning class at Yogasmith, making a summer fruit jam and exploring “how preserving, much like yoga, invites us to focus on the present moment, and how a preserving practice can be a great mindful meditation.” (Signup details are here.)

What will you be canning this weekend?

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