The Urban Canning Company is based in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is owned and operated by Illene Sofranko and managed by Sam Steele.
We offer one of a kind, hand crafted and naturally preserved foods such as jams, pickles, beer mustards, sriracha and sauerkraut. We specialize in interesting flavor compositions and utilize only the freshest produce. During Florida farming season we work closely with local farms and highlight many seasonal limited small batch preserves.
Our products are preserved using traditional methods so you won't find any artificial ingredients of any kind in our jars!
Our kitchen also has a tasting room and retail where we sell canning supplies and a variety of our heirloom foods. Out of our space we teach canning classes and host homesteading workshops as well.
WHAT GOES INTO EACH AND EVERY URBAN JAR?
From start to finish, each jar produced by The Urban Canning Company is made by hand. We start with fresh produce that gets cleaned, cut and processed by hand.
Each pickle jar gets filled with fresh herbs and spices, packed with vegetables and a homemade pickling brine!
The jam is made in small batches to ensure great flavor, control texture and to highlight as many seasonal fresh fruits as possible!
The beer mustards are made in collaboration with a local brewery in our area, Green Bench Brewing. We soak the mustard seeds for up to a week!
Each jar is processed in a hot water bath which preserves it naturally, just like our family used to do.
From start to finish a small batch of pickles, jam or mustard could take up to a day to complete and up to a week to cure. The canning process is a slow food process. It renders patience, but the end result is a food that tastes like tradition, a new tradition!
I was taught how to can by my great uncle, "Uncle Ray". He grew up in a small coal mining town called Charmco in the mountains of West Virginia. They had a farm and canning was practical and necessary for surviving the long winter months there. They did not have much money so the only things they would buy from a grocery store were salt, flour and sugar.
Uncle Ray passed on his canning skills to me, and although I do not can for survival like he and my family did growing up, I maintain their traditional methods and continue canning because; It helps support local agriculture, tastes better, is fresher, promotes sustainable food, helps avoid damaging natural resources, and it allows me to know exactly what I’m eating!
Growing up in St. Petersburg, FL I was exposed to cultural food-diversities and I developed a taste for unique flavors, textures and ingredients. Those sensitivities combined with my high country roots are really the foundation of my recipes. I strive to keep my palette modern and relevant while still staying true to the old country staples I grew up eating out of the pantry every summer while I was visiting my family.
One of my great passions in life is breaking bread with friends, loved ones and people in general. Through The Urban Canning Co. I have been able to live that passion, share my love of good food and educate others about all natural food preservation.
Illene Sofranko, Owner and Founder
My interests lie within the circle that encompasses food and the environment. I graduated from the University of South Florida in 2015 with a degree in Environmental Science and this is where I discovered the complex relationship that food production, from start to finish, and the environment share. I realized that many of our environmental problems can be linked directly to the way our food is produced and I strive every day to become more aware of my role in this relationship.
The journey of learning how food is produced is a long one that cannot be accomplished without the collective knowledge of a community.
My personal journey began on a chicken farm in Costa Rica where I was able to cultivate my love of a hard day’s work in a Walden-esque environment. I was then led to The Urban Canning Company where I feel grateful that I can work, learn, and experiment with natural food preservation.
Ultimately, I feel that significant environmental change is seen in the everyday actions of ordinary people and through education we can create a sustainable system together.
Sam Steele, Kitchen Manager