Fall in Newaygo County is full of rich colors as the trees change from green to reds, yellows, and shades of brown. It also is a wonderful time of discovering the amazing bounty of the fall harvest, presented at local farmer markets and roadside country stands.
On almost every road throughout Newaygo County, one will find farmers and gardeners selling sweet corn, green beans, apples, peaches and many other locally grown fruits and vegetables. One really good source for fresh produce is the Farmers Market located in downtown Fremont, Mi., and every year I think “I’m going to do me some canning! “
There is one problem, I don’t know how to can. So, I asked Bonnie Peck a special family friend to teach me! I learned more than canning and had a ton of fun!
Bonnie suggested that we start with peaches and that turned out to be excellent advice! We selected peaches that are called “Reds”.
Reds are sweet, firm and in good supply as they are harvested from the orchards. We also decided to make Salsa and bought an assortment of peppers, onions, garlic cloves and a few varieties of tomatoes.
The fun & learning begins
My first mission was to go out and find canning jars. The local grocery stores had plenty, thank goodness because last year there was a shortage! Bonnie showed me how to prep the jars, the lids so they would be sterile. I had no idea you could boil Jars! We blanched the peaches, tomatoes, and my fingers! Cut, sliced, and diced peppers, onions, tomatoes etc. for the salsa. Discovered that the HEAT is in the seeds of the jalapeno peppers, so be careful how much you put into the Salsa mixture! You can go from Mild to on Fire in a hurry!
To my surprise I was having a great time talking with Bonnie and learned that canning was a family tradition for her as a child. She remembered this time of year as a very special Family time where the kids, Aunts, Uncles, Mothers and Fathers would gather to Shuck Sweet Corn, Blanch the corn, Cut the Corn off the cob, and finally: Bag it and Freeze It!” The Kids would be called in to handle the most important job of hauling away the silk from all the corn!
My takeaway listening to Bonnie as she reminisced about this wonderful time in her life was, The joy of Family! I also learned that the secret ingredient in making tasty, canned food for the winter is Love! Shhh that’s a secret!!!
Fall in Newaygo County is a time for doing family activities both outdoors and indoors, so get out and visit the farms and checkout the roadside stands for all the incredible variety of produce that is awaiting you! Go inside and make an amazing family memory canning!
Blog written by: Reuben Tucker