Portland Preservation Society

Just about a year ago, with Brooke’s motivation and organization, a handful of people – friends, and friends of friends – somewhat awkwardly assembled at a café in SE Portland to discuss canning and preserving. We each brought books to reference, and a general enthusiasm to form a group in which we would reconvene each month and exchange canned goods. Formally named the “Portland Preservation Society,” most of us casually refer to it as “canning club.”

At that first meeting, we loosely established some method to the process, which after the initial exchange we realized needed to be overhauled. From then on, the general process is that anyone who comes should bring 5-6 jars of something preferably seasonal and local that they have canned/preserved. At the meeting, we all place our goods on the table, form a circle around the precious goods, and one-by-one explain what we’ve made. It’s nearly impossible after a couple glasses of wine and good conversation to remember which jars sounded best, and which to choose first! The second time around the circle, we each get to choose one jar, and then we go back around and around until each person has the number of jars they contributed. In the end we each walk away with 5 or 6 incredibly creative, flavorful canned goods that we probably wouldn’t have thought to make ourselves.

Image(from the second swap)

We have our one year anniversary meeting this week, and it’s amazing to see how it’s grown! From a modest 10 or so people in the beginning, we now have over 250 members in the Facebook group, thanks to Brooke’s continued organization and excitement. We began by having a different member host each month, but now it’s grown so big (about 30-50 people attend each month) that we are meeting at Union Pine, thanks to Summer and Patrick’s generous contribution of that lovely space.

Image(left to right, top to bottom: curried cauliflower, gomasio, cranberry apple ginger beer, balsamic pickled eggs, pickled Asian pears)

When I was young, my mom would make pickled beans and beets, and they were always such a treat! I started canning only four years ago, and luckily I can say my skills have progressed with time. The first batches of pickled things I made were too spicy – not too hot, they just too many competing flavors – but now I have my go-to recipe for pickling. And I’ve tried so many other things that once would have seemed too ambitious.

Image(lapsang souchong tea jelly that I made)

Image(mushroom herb seasoning that I made for the next meeting)

Even though a canning club is the ultimate Portland cliché, it’s a really wonderful group to be a part of. Through it I’ve made some great friends, gotten to take home some delicious foods (hello bacon jam!), and had a number of memorable wine-filled conversations.

**Some notes – to join, just become a member of the Facebook group for the details on the next meeting. Check out the Portland Preservation Society Tumblr page, too! And see photos on Instagram at #portlandpreservationsociety.

all photos taken with my iphone



  1. Erin Lebow-Skelley

    As cliche as it may be, it is groups like this one that make me miss home. I may just have to crash if there is a July meeting!

  2. ahh you are so wonderful and makes me wish I lived in Portland. 🙂 I want to learn canning!

  3. The Portland Preservation Society looks most excellent. I’ve never had the patience for these sorts of things before, but you might have persuaded me with these photos.

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