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CANNING EQUIPMENT.

Canning is a method of preserving that involves heating foods to sterilize them and then sealing them into airtight containers. The process retains the color, flavor, and nutrients of the food, yet destroys the microorganisms that cause spoilage.

All types of food from vegetables and fruits, to meats and fish, can be canned as a safe, economical way to preserve food at home. In addition to being a source of pride for many people, canning homegrown food may save consumers half the cost of buying commercially canned food.

CANNING CREATIVITY

While convenience remains an issue for today's home cook, canning is re-emerging as a popular activity. Be it nostalgia or the fact that canning and preserving food at home produces superior-tasting and -quality foods, its popularity is bolstered by the fact that home canning methods are much more time efficient than they were in our grandmothers' days. Today's home canners are concerned about quality and the ability to select the raw materials with care while they are in peak season.

Nostalgia may lead your older customers back to canning; however, most of your younger customers probably don't have a clue where to begin. Education is the key to selling a variety of canning equipment from cherry and plum stoners, to apple corers, food funnels, and even labels.

A multitude of reasons exist for canning -- because many vegetables begin to lose some of their vitamins once they are harvested, preserving them through canning is a great way to enjoy these seasonal foods well beyond their seasonal time. Further, if properly handled and canned promptly after harvest, vegetables can be more nutritious than fresh produce sold in local stores. The most important thing to remember is to remind customers about canning throughout the year.

Create an eye-catching display with canning jars as the centerpiece by using wooden boxes or wicker baskets with the jars placed alongside colorful fruits and vegetables. Display a sun shade and perhaps a small round table and chair. Place jars with fruit on the table, showcasing some of the filled jars with and without their doilies.

Another idea might be to set up signage in the produce department that promotes canning. One sign might read, "Enjoy the flavors of summer all winter long," while another might say, "Don't forget your canning equipment in Aisle 10."

Highlight the fact that contemporary items eliminate the drudgery from home canning -- thermometers and food slicers shorten prep time. Create recipe cards for different fruits, vegetables, meats, or fish to be canned and set them alongside the apple corers, cherry stoners, plum stoners, graters, food choppers, knives, jar openers, and even doilies and ribbons made of fabric to place over the lids. There are so many options, your canning displays may be updated frequently. And don't forget to include some of the many cookbooks that focus on home canning and other preservation methods.

CANNING PARTY

Remember when the entire family would gather together to harvest the fruit from the apple tree, then prepare the apples for storage. Though somewhat overwhelming for one person, with the help of the family, the job went much quicker and was pleasant as there was time to socialize.

Reintroduce your customers to the essentials of canning by holding a Canning Party within your store -- or if you don't have a cooking school, suggest that customers invite friends over for the canning party -- you (or your cooking school instructor) can come to observe and teach.

Ask each participant to bring something to can and perhaps an old family canning recipe that they haven't enjoyed for years. Focus on the how-to aspect of canning. Since each participant will bring his/her own item to can, the class will have canned a variety of different items, thereby learning the essentials of each.

Next, have each participant create a label with the name of the contents, the date they were canned, and the name of the person who canned them and glue it on the jar. Then have an exchange of canned items so everyone goes home with a bit of each product canned that day -- much like a Christmas cookie exchange.

CANNING CLUB

Customers participating in the canning class will be tempted to purchase the essentials -- jars, etc. Encourage them to join your Canning Club and send reminder cards to them throughout the year. On the card, say, "It's cherry season -- do you know where your stoner is?," "Don't let your plums go to waste -- buy your canning jars now," "This month's canning special is a two-for-one," or "With your first purchase of two dozen jars, get a free jar lifter." Be creative in getting your customers to purchase canning equipment throughout the year.

BEST MERCHANDISING IDEAS

SNAPSHOTS

SPONSOR A CANNING PARTY, INVITING EACH PARTICIPANT TO BRING A DIFFERENT ITEM TO CAN. WHEN THE CLASS IS COMPLETE, HAVE AN EXCHANGE OF CANNED ITEMS SO EVERYONE GOES HOME WITH A BIT OF EACH PRODUCT CANNED THAT DAY.

PROMOTE CANNING THROUGHOUT THE STORE, INCLUDING IN THE PRODUCE DEPARTMENT.

HANG SIGNS THAT REMIND CUSTOMERS WHERE TO FIND THEIR CANNING EQUIPMENT.

SEND REMINDER CARDS TO CUSTOMERS SUCH AS, "IT'S CHERRY SEASON -- DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR STONER IS?" THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Gourmet Retailer
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2001
Words:866
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