By the 1930s canned goods were so readily available that they were regularly showing up as ingredients in cookbooks. With the emphasis on Victory Gardens and canned goods requiring lots of blue/green ration points there was a whole lotta canning going on during WWII.
At the start of the War 64% of American women canned. In 1943, the peak civilian canning year in the U.S., 75% of American women canned. Of that 11% increase, 8% said they had never canned before the war. While that statistic seems small, it actually represents thousands of women who had to learn the art and science of canning.
The following delicious excerpt from an article in the April 22, 1943 Topeka Daily Capitol reports details from one so-called "Canning School."
The women who attended know well the importance of the food crisis which they as housewives must face for the duration. And they were there to learn - to learn food conservation, wartime recipes, how to prepare edibles with the least amount of waste, and the methods of canning whereby they might be sure jar after jar of vegetables and meats would not spoil before used.
Present was a crowd of approximately 1,100, including not only wives and mothers, but 4-H clubs, businesswomen, junior high school students, and members of Washburn [University] and high school home economics classes. One instructor brought with her a group of ninety-five young homemakers. The crowd was dotted throughout with men and boys.
I love this article for so many reasons. I love how its emphasis on housewives and matrons marginalizes working women. After all, the canning schools mentioned in the article were being held during the work week. The truth is is that many women could not afford either the time or money to can up their own produce. New canning supplies were hard to come by during the War and community canning centers were underutilized.
I also love the somewhat salacious writing: "Women leaned forward in their chairs to hear the tips and instructions of auburn-haired Miss Zella Hale Weyent told them over a public address system." And the serious tone of the conversation on Victory Gardening and NOT spring hats! Intrigue! It almost sounds like a dime-store mystery novel...
"Well, shucks," mumbled the town's one and only police officer, Lieutenant Jones. "Miss Zella," he confided in his raspy drawl, "We need your help. The town pharmacist, Mr. King, has just been found belly up at the soda fountain. It looks like foul play and you're the best detective this town has, for better or for worse. Can you help us?"
Miss Zella paused for a moment, thinking about the peaches she planned to preserve that afternoon. The peaches would have to wait, even if it meant the preserves would be less than perfect. Some things are less than perfect, the auburn-haired Miss Zella told herself - including murder. And with that thought she placed her spring hat on her head with a defined precision and headed towards Sweet Sips, the town soda fountain on Main Street...
Sorry about that, I got carried away.