The Franklin County Cannery located at Cannery 61 East 4th in Preston, is generally a hoping place this time of year. The steam is billowing up from the boilers and knives are cutting up whatever is going into the cans. Apples are being pressed into juice and applesauce.
It is not being used right now because there a nation-wide can shortage. The season was delayed about a month it was supposed to open Aug. 15, but finding cans was an issue for Kevin Olsen and his wife Syd the cannery mangers.
They have been managing the place for 11 years three years after they started working there and when they got ready to order cans they found out there were none available.
“There were no cans to be had anywhere,” said Kevin. “I looked everywhere the people we use to get them from decided not to sell them anymore.”
The cannery used to get cans from the Bishops General Store House in Salt Lake, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints decided to slow down their canning operation and quit selling cans.
“I was going to give-up and not open the place this year, but the Franklin County commissioners told us this might be an important year for people with the worldwide pandemic taking center stage in the country.”
Olsen started to search again for cans the Franklin County Cannery orders such a small quantity no one wants to sell them to them he said.
“The big companies were getting all of the cans,” Olsen said, “We are pretty small time with only 50,000 cans a season.”
”I found some in China, but shipping would have killed us,” he said. “I finally found some in Canada and ordered some. We are expecting a truck load of 50,000 cans any day.”
The cannery is a big deal in Preston. It brings a lot of people from outside of the county to preserve meats, vegetables and fruit in either one quart or 15 oz. cans. About 85 percent of the patrons are from outside of Franklin County. Some buy meats and produce from grocery stores from Preston to Logan to build their food storage.
“We’ve had people come from as far away as New York, Alaska, California even Texas to use the cannery,” he said. “Most of the people are from Idaho, Wyoming or Utah.”
For $12.50 a day and as little has $30 a season plus the cost of the can people can seal anything they want.
The cannery is usually open on Thursdays for meat only and Saturdays for everything else.
“We may have to open one other day week because we are getting such a late start,” Olsen said. “We depend on a lot of volunteers and up to three cooks to run the cannery.”
The cannery also offers a dry pack option for people that want to can wheat, rice and dried vegetables.
“The LDS Church quit their dry pack operation a few years ago so we started to do it,” Olsen said. “People can make an appointment anytime, they just have to give us a call.”
Most of the cannery machinery came from the basement of the Oneida Stake Academy where it was owned and operated by the LDS Church.
“About 1967 the church decided to get out of the cannery business, he said. “So, they sold everything to the county.”
It’s pretty much run every year since the county got it Olsen said.
“Over the years interest in the cannery has fallen off a little,” he said. “It goes in spurts and cycles depending on the politics and what’s going on in the world.
He said this year will be a screamer once we can get cans. He said the cannery will probably stay open as long people have an interest in canning.
“We can always use volunteers.” Olsen said.
To check the cannery’s availability, call the Olsen at (208) 705-7172