Well, summer is here and for this Canning Diva, it means getting my garden in and flowers planted! I spent Memorial Day rototilling compost and natural nutrients into my soil and planting an array of vegetables and herbs I started from seed. Home-canning brings me and my family many joys and for us, it starts with a garden.
I have always prided myself on ensuring my home garden is free from chemicals and pesticides, that I grow only non-GMO crops using heirloom seeds, and I support my soil through composting and crop rotation. But because my garden is small and I home-can all year round, I rely heavily on local farmers to follow suit in producing crops using these very same methods.
Thankfully, many like-minded Michigan farmers also share the same sustainable values when it comes to producing healthy foods for consumption. One farm in particular reminds me of my childhood living in Northern Michigan, but on a much smaller scale. Chimney Creek Farm in Belding shares in my passion and is highly involved in the new food revolution, and I am excited to say they are just a hop, skip, and a jump from my home!
When I teach people how to home-can, I pride myself on taking the fear out of this age-old skill by demystifying and debunking the many misnomers of this craft. I bring creativity to recipes, teach safe practices, and advocate for supporting local farmers by preserving their harvest all year long! Embracing my From the Garden to the Jar concept isn’t about replacing raw, fresh foods but teaching the masses how to extend a food’s nutritional content all year long.
Michigan is blessed to have organic farms, CSA programs, and readily available farmers markets throughout the state! I am spoiled and live in West Michigan, where there is a market, farm, or stand on every corner. Well, okay, not every corner, but you get my point!
Touring Chimney Creek Farm this week, I got inspired by their methods and the many vegetables gearing up for this year’s harvest! Incorporating locally grown foods into my jars gives me great pleasure, knowing that when I pop the lid this winter I will bring a little summer into my home! I look forward to home canning Pickled Garlic Cloves using white wine and oregano; a variety of salsas using fresh tomatoes, peppers, and onions; and look forward to pressure canning several batches of chicken soup!
In addition to vegetables and livestock provided by Chimney Creek Farm, I look forward to Michigan’s abundant fruit growth as I explore many new recipes this year! I am presently working on a Peach Pistachio Conserve which highlights Michigan peaches and sweet cherries, as well as preparing for strawberry season, where I will teach West Michigan how to can my Signature Strawberry Salsa.
So this canning season, if you are unable to grow it yourself, consider joining a CSA or stopping at your local farmers market to gather fresh ingredients and join in on the fun exploring my From the Garden to the Jar way of thinking!
To learn more about The Canning Diva, her canning classes, and appearances, go to www.canningdiva.com or follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/CanningDiva today! Happy Canning!
–Diane Devereaux, The Canning Diva