A library for your taste buds

Workshop participants cutting strawberries

There are no databases, librarians, or actual books, but Nourish is unveiling a new library in town that offers a range of resources for extending our community’s connection to good food.

Building on the increasing popularity of at-home food preservation, Nourish's Canning Library operates much like a regular library, but, instead of books, provides free public access to a wide variety of household canning equipment.

Once considered an artefact of the past, home canning has experienced a renaissance in recent years as foodies, locavores, community gardeners, and thrifty consumers alike have sought respite from rising global food prices and the packaged, artificial offerings of grocery stores. 

As people increasingly pursue local sources of food, whether from farmer’s markets or their own gardens, more and more are also looking to canning as a way to save money and reduce waste while enjoying local flavours all year round.

Housed in YWCA Peterborough Haliburton's administrative office, the Canning Library supports community members wishing to extend their access to local food throughout the year, but who may otherwise lack the space, money or regular need to justify purchasing specialized equipment of their own.

This is perfect for the periodic pickler or space-crunched jam or relish maker, who may require access to canning equipment only once or twice per year. Instead of struggling to find places to store bulky equipment, patrons may select and borrow everything they need, when they need it, by reserving online or by visiting the YWCA.

Lining the library’s literal and virtual shelves are an array of preassembled ‘canning kits’, each containing all the implements and tools required to pack, preserve, and ‘put up’ food at home.

For those relatively new to canning, we suggest trying out a boiling water bath canner first, a simple yet effective method for safely preserving high-acidity foods like tomatoes, chutneys, and jams—all of which gain their long shelf life through the addition of vinegar, salt, and/or sugar.

For those looking to stretch their preservation repertoire a little further, the Library also has several pressure canners available for short-term loan. A somewhat more advanced technique than the water bath method, pressure canning uses the incredible heat of a pressurized environment to render `alkaline’, or low-acid foods, such as fresh vegetables and animal-products, safe for on-shelf storage.

Whether you’re a canning novice or a seasoned pro, the Canning Library makes home canning affordable, convenient, and fun. Make sure to check it out before summer ends, and keep your eyes peeled for Nourish canning workshops for opportunities to practice and hone your preservation skills throughout the season.