In a return to our culinary roots, Americans across the country — most notably millennials — are turning to home preserving this summer. Research conducted by ORC International on behalf of the Ball brand canning line determined that nearly half of all millennials (49 percent) are interested in canning this summer. And the primary reason is because they love cooking and canning seems fun (38 percent). This research also found that 68 percent of Americans would rather make their own fresh foods than purchase store bought.

    The most popular canning item was pickles. Almost everyone liked pickles (86 percent), especially Baby Boomers (90 percent). Dill has universal appeal, and is favored more than 2 to 1 over any other kind of pickle. Bread & Butter comes in distant second (21 percent), though only 12 percent of millennials pick Bread & Butter as their favorite.

    While nearly everyone knows you can pickle cucumbers (84 percent), the majority doesn’t know or think about pickling other foods.  Most people (84 percent) didn’t know or think they could pickle crabapples, but the newly released 37th edition of the Ball Blue Book has over 30 recipes for pickling alone, including Crabapple Pickles.

    Another popular canning item was jams and jellies. A full one-third of Americans don’t know the difference between jam and jelly. Jam refers to a product made with cut or crushed fruit, while jelly refers to a type of clear fruit spread simply using the juice form of a fruit or vegetable.

    Not surprisingly, 64 percent of canners know the difference, and regionally Midwesterners were more inclined to identify the correct answer (52 percent). Despite the confusion, 81 percent of Americans agree that homemade jam tastes better than store bought. In fact, for those planning to can this summer, strawberry jam is the most popular recipe (61 percent).

    Along with a renewed interest in home canning, Americans are branching out. Forty-seven percent expressed interest in some form of preserving food beyond canning, including dehydrating (26 percent), smoking (21 percent), brewing (15 percent) and cheese-making (13 percent). Again, millennials lead the pack in exploring homesteading activities. And they’re even more likely to seek out DIY methods as a whopping 60 percent expressed interest.

    The online quantitative survey was conducted among a sample of 1,019 adults 18 years of age and older, fielded June 8-10.