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When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States earlier this year, people began cooking and baking at home much more frequently as both a way to safely feed their families and as a way to relieve some stress. A few different food trends emerged like sourdough bread, Dalgona coffee, and banana breads. But now, canning is seeing a spike in popularity and experts believe this is causing a shortage in mason jars.
CNN reported that there is already a shortage at many retailers nationwide, specifically for double ring mason jar lids. They spoke with Marie Bregg, the owner of Mason Jar Merchant, who said her online sales began to spike in the middle of August, going up 600 percent, and haven’t really dropped since.
Of course canning is nothing new for many people and it has been done for years—centuries even—as a way to keep food fresh long after you make it. And that’s precisely why it’s gaining popularity right now. Experts told CNN the surge is probably fueled by a few reasons, such as people adopting new hobbies as they spend time at home. This could be canning itself or even gardening, which can lead to an influx of fresh food, which then leads to canning.
Newell Brands, which produces the two top mason jar brands, Ball and Kerr, acknowledged this surge, saying that COVID-19 has caused “unprecedented demand. The demand has resulted in supply constraints, extended lead times and recently limited product availability at stores and online.” They said they are “rapidly” working to address this issue.
“Almost every day, I get a note on Instagram like, ‘hey, I’m having a hard time finding the lids for canning jars. Do you know where I might find them?’ And then each time having to break the bad news to them that everyone’s struggling,” canning expert and author of the blog Food in Jars Marisa McClellan told NPR.
If you’re trying to seek them out online, you might still find them a few places, but McClellan also noted that you should be careful of counterfeits. If you’re new to canning, know that you shouldn’t be reusing the double lids to your mason jars in order to conserve them—that can put you at risk for botulism. Instead, verify that the jars you’re buying are safe for canning, buy only what you reasonably need, and consider getting into other kitchen activities like quick pickling or even simply freezing your food.
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