Canning Summertime

While canning can be done all year round using frozen or store-bought fruits and vegetables, your food will always taste better and be better for you if it is grown locally and in season, and if it is harvested when it’s ripe rather than when it’s still green and hard enough to ship across the country or the globe. In Michigan, canning generally starts in June with strawberry season, speeds up a bit in July with blueberries and cherries, and then gets frantic in August when peaches, raspberries, blackberries, tomatoes, plums, pickle cucumbers, and more start getting ripe.

Already this year I’ve canned all this:

  • Strawberry Jam
  • Strawberry Lemon Marmalade
  • Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Filling
  • Berry Wine Jelly
  • Herb Jelly
  • Red Wine Jelly
  • Sour Cherry Jelly
  • Blueberry Jam
  • Gooseberry Jam
  • Peach Jam
  • Peach Salsa
  • Four Fruit Nectar

All of the recipes are found in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. And today at the farmer’s market we picked up raspberries and blackberries to make into jam. We also got corn, zucchini for bread, green beans, cantaloupe, and a bunch of sunflowers for the table.

For your shopping convenience, check out this handy chart of when fruits and vegetables are available at your local farmer’s market.

More and more urban communities have farmer’s markets, and more and more of them take food stamps, so be sure to take advantage of the amazing taste and ecologically more sound growing, harvesting, and shipping practices of food from small, local, family-run farms. If you find yourself buying produce under the flourescent lights in a grocery store chain in August in Michigan, I think you need to reevaluate your buying practices.

Get it fresh!

Summer Rolls On

As we enter August here in the midwest, we enter the season of county fairs, festivals, farmer’s markets, and the last big month for spending time at the beach or the lake before school and cooler weather start. At least we’re still hoping for cooler weather. And more rain.

All summer I’ve felt a definite lack of something. Yes, the grass in mid-Michigan has been brown (I mean, completely and utterly brown) for a month or more because of our lack of rain, but it was something else we were missing.

Then I figured it out. It’s not just rain we’re lacking. It’s summer storms. Thunder, lightning, and gusts of wind that usually liven things up around here during the hot months.

We’ve had almost none of it. And I miss it.

As a child I stood with my father in the open garage of our tri-level house on Lesperance Court and watched storms in the summertime. Nowadays I watch from our front doorway or the sunroom.

But not this year. The stillness and the heat have been ever present this summer. But without the regular cycle of a build-up of humidity and the fresh feeling of cool, drier air after a big storm, this summer has felt very strange indeed.

We got a bit of a storm last night and this morning is cooler and it is supposedly not going to break 80 degrees. And I’m grateful for that.

We spent Saturday evening at the Ingham County Fair enjoying the animals and rides and Polish sausage and corndogs.

We’re enjoying the last of what has been a hot, dry, quick summer. What do you do as summer enters its last month? Take a moment to add your vote to this month’s poll, found at the top of the left sidebar. And enjoy what’s left of your summer.