Enjoy  these fun tips to Create Your Canning Calendar for the 2017 canning season

Home canning and food preservation is a year ‘round adventure!  One of the many joys I receive from teaching classes throughout West Michigan is hearing from students, who after one class are happy to share they have caught “the canning bug”!  It is so fulfilling to witness the excitement each person has when they see the variety of foods they are able to preserve throughout the year!  It is from this excitement I want to share some basics on how to create your own Canning Calendar.

We are all very busy in today’s day and age so planning ahead to maximize our canning efforts is a MUST if we are to achieve a well-stocked pantry each year.  A fun way to maximize such efforts is getting like-minded friends and family together several times a year so you may “put up” as many jars as possible! 

Two weeks ago, four of us along with two helpers got together at a local commercial kitchen in Lowell, Facility Kitchens, and home canned 199 jars of delicious goodness!  Each of us had three recipes we wanted to produce within a 6 hour period of time.  My mother helped me produce a quadruple batch of Traditional Apple Pie Filling while a dear friend helped me produce a triple batch of my Strawberry Salsa and Marinade.  Believe it or not, I even managed to fit in pressure canning 20 pounds of carrots to enjoy as a side dish later this winter!  Overall, we preserved double and triple batches of Beef Vegetable Soup, Pickled Garlic Cloves, Chicken Soup, Chicken Broth and Chicken Pot Pie Filling as well as Pickled Asparagus, Pizza Sauce, Venison and more!  Best of all, we derived these recipes from our Canning Calendars!

As we approach the 2017 Growing and Canning Season, now is the perfect time to create your Canning Calendar.  Whether you grow it yourself, rely on local farmers or simply head to the grocery store, now is the time to begin forming a list of foods you would like to see gracing your pantry shelves. 

Consider these three main factors when creating your 2017 Canning Calendar:

  • Know Your State! Michigan grows an abundance of fruits and vegetables May through August however many foods are available clear into the winter months.  After many hours of research I created a Michigan Availability Guide to help us Michiganders gauge what foods will be available each month giving our states climate, soil and growing habits.  I use this guide to map out a plan-of-action based on particular foods availability.  There are many cost-saving benefits to home canning and preserving foods when it is readily available during peak season. 
  • Grow What You Eat!  You will often hear me say, “If you don’t eat it there is no sense in preserving it!”  Plan your garden space (and buying habits) around your canning endeavors.  For instance, if you enjoy canning a variety of salsas, create a “Salsa Garden” bed to provide you with salsa staples like tomatoes, cilantro and peppers.  If you prefer having an abundance of root crops handy during the winter month, grow a “Root Crop Garden” bed specific to your tastes and preservation methods.    
  • Rotate Your Inventory! Far too often beginner canners get stuck home canning the same items year-after-year because they are afraid to preserve something they will not use.  To expand your canning endeavors, head down to your pantry with a pen and paper.  Take inventory of the items you eat on a regular basis and be sure to notate which items have been sitting on your shelf the longest!  When doing so, take special note of the aluminum cans lining your shelves…  Compare your inventory list with items grown in your state and/or grown in your very own garden.  You will be surprised at the abundance of aluminum cans you can eliminate from your grocery list because they are now a part of your Canning Calendar!   Also, be mindful of the expired items sitting on your pantry shelf.  They did not get eaten for a reason.  Be sure to keep these items in mind when pursing the internet for new, fun recipes to try!  If you haven’t eaten it, do not home can it!

Information gathered from the above three factors gives you the tools necessary to create your Canning Calendar.  Start mapping out designated canning time conducive to your lifestyle, your eating habits and your garden harvest plans.  Use your calendar to forecast several months at a time or be adventurous and map out the entire year!   

To receive a free down load of my Michigan Availability Guide, fun recipes and tips, visit me online at www.CanningDiva.com today!

From the Garden to the Jar™,

Diane Devereaux, The Canning Diva®