Canning has begun in earnest. The pantry shelves are bare and Michigan’s bounteous fruit crops are coming in.
Ten jars of strawberry jam, ten jars of currant jelly, seven jars of strawberry lemon marmalade.
And leftover strawberries for dipping in sugar and eating.
Cherries, blueberries, and mulberries will fill out the rest of July, then blackberries, raspberries, peaches, tomatoes, and peppers in August and September, and apples and pears in September and October. I’ll be trying out my new pressure canner as well for things like beans and whole fruit I couldn’t do with a water bath.
Last year I hardly canned at all and was forced to buy store-bought raspberry jam. Ew. I’ve been too spoiled with homemade to ever really enjoy that stuff again.
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!