Middle of Nowhere Creations
On Dulthara cattle station, 250km northwest of the rural town of Hughenden in northern Queensland, you’ll find Middle of Nowhere Creations. This small business makes gourmet preserves from fresh homegrown and locally sourced produce, using traditional preserving methods. Kahlia Mickan started Middle of Nowhere Creations back in 2016, after her enthusiasm for gardening led to a large surplus of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“I’m a keen gardener, and I had all this excess produce,” she says. “At first, I was making preserves just for our own use at home. And then I thought that maybe there was a market for it. So, I started selling my preserves and it just exploded.”
Middle of Nowhere Creations’ unique preserves contain no artificial additives, colours or flavours, and no preservatives. There are also no gelling or setting agents used.
“It’s a natural process,” Mickan says. “For a chutney or sauce, I just use a vinegar or vinegar and salt base as the preservative. And for a jam, the sugar becomes the preservative. Our products don’t contain anything artificial whatsoever.”
The art of preserving food has been around for hundreds of years. It’s a simple but effective way of using up excess produce that ensures a ready supply of food year-round.
“It’s pretty straightforward, once you know what you’re doing,” Mickan says. “All preserving means is that you bottle your product, and as long as that jar is sealed, it will last forever.”
To make her gourmet chutneys, jams, pickles, relishes and sauces, Mickan uses produce grown in her six gardens, which encompass around four acres in total.
“I grow everything I can,” she says. “Tomatoes, cucumbers, pawpaw, mangoes, chillies, rosellas and melons. I’ve got gardens everywhere! Anything that will grow here in north Queensland, I’ll grow it. But I don’t grow my own onions, as they’re quite fiddly. I also don’t grow my own stone fruit or apples, as they’re more suited to a southern climate.”
Local supporting local
To source her onions and any fruits she doesn’t grow herself, Mickan makes a point of buying from small local businesses in nearby towns.
“I’ll find a local produce supplier from one of our little towns,” she says. “I choose to buy through them rather than buying direct. And all of our sugar, and all the other ingredients that we use, we buy all of that from our local supermarket in the small town of Richmond, which has a population of about 600 people. It’s got a little tiny supermarket, but I choose to buy everything through them to keep them supported.”
Supporting local and following time-honoured traditions such as growing your own food and naturally preserving excess produce have served this business well. Middle of Nowhere Creations is now doing so well, Mickan is selling her preserves Australia-wide. She also has plans to expand, moving her operations from Dulthara Station to a nearby town.
“It’s been really successful,” Mickan says. “And really, there’s nothing technical to it. I just put everything in the pot and wait for the ingredients to make their own magic.”
You’ll find Middle of Nowhere Creations listed on the EATIVITY Local Food Directory. The EATIVITY Local Food Directory is on a mission to support the local food movement by connecting consumers with local, sustainable and artisan food producers, growers and farmers right across the country. Are you an Australian food producer who’d like to sign up or find out more? Go to the directory or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org