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so many wonderful choices at your local farmers market!

so many wonderful choices at your local farmers market!

enjoy the bounty in your back yard

Here in New England, our local farms, orchards, and gardens are at their peak. Fresh corn, blueberries, peaches, early apples and pears, plums, tomatoes, beans, beets — the list goes on! If you don’t have your own garden, check out a local farmers’ market or farm stand and savor the season. If you are not sure what’s available in your area, just Google “Farmers Market” or “Farm Stand” + “Your state” and you are likely to find a comprehensive listing. Or check out some of these sites that have done the searching for you:

  • Local Harvest.org has a search tool that you can use for farmers’ market information in any state.
  • Pick Your Own.org provides countrywide information about pick-your-own farms and orchards.
  • If you are in the Glastonbury, Connecticut area, check out Glastonbury Grown for local farms and places to pick your own.

 

food, fun, demonstrations, entertainment

Visiting a farmers’ market is a fun outing — think way beyond a trip to the grocery. Besides offering a tremendous variety of fresh produce, most markets also have vendors selling local baked goods, flowers, dairy products, meat, crafts, freshly made jams, jellies, pickles, relishes, and more. Many have food vendors where you can get a tasty lunch, fresh beverage, or yummy dessert treat. If somehow you aren’t interested in the food, come for the entertainment and demonstrations. There are often local musicians, chefs, entertainers, authors, yoga instructors — you name it — with free programs to educate and/or entertain. For those of you in central Connecticut, I’ll be at the Glastonbury Farmers’ Market this coming Saturday (August 10) from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. doing canning demonstrations and book signing.

market-basket-for-home-page

be a locavore!

Pardon the soap box, but I just have to put in a plug for eating sustainably! Supporting our local farms and orchards is a win-win situation. You get the best and the freshest that nature can offer. Fruits and vegetables begin to lose their nutritional value the minute they leave the vine. Produce that you buy at farmers’ markets and local farm stands have likely been picked that morning. When you buy local, you are reducing the carbon footprint of our food production system. While some large grocery chains boast produce from exotic places, there’s a lot of carbon involved in transporting — plus the fruits and veggies lose their nutrients along the way. When we buy local, we help to ensure that our farmers can stay in business and continue to grow healthy food for our tables.

 

making blueberry jam with folks at wind hill farm

making blueberry jam with folks at wind hill farm

open-air canning demo

smile!

smile!

Since Can It!  was released last summer, I’ve been asked to do a number of canning demonstrations. I’ve been in a hardware store, a community center, my own kitchen — but never a setting as pretty as the one last night at Wind Hill Farm in Glastonbury, Connecticut. As part of their mission of community outreach and education, they asked me if I would do a canning demo. I packed up my canning gear along with two butane burners and set up shop in a lecture area situated among the many raised bed garden plots. It really was an idea setting for promoting local and seasonal produce! Six eager and willing students showed up and together we made a simple, but very yummy blueberry jam. Despite the threat of passing shower, we finished our jam and everyone took home a jar to enjoy.

blueberry jam

sea of blueberries

sea of blueberries

Ingredients:

  • Approx. 3 lbs. fresh blueberries, washed, drained, and crushed to make 4 C.
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 4 C. cane sugar
  • 1 box dry pectin
  • 1/4 teasp. ground cinnamon (if desired)

Steps

  1. Prepare containers and water bath canner.
  2. Measure sugar and set aside.
  3. Prepare the fruit; measure exactly; add lemon juice.

    can't you just taste it?

    can’t you just taste it?

  4. Pour fruit into pot and stir in pectin, mixing in thoroughly. Add cinnamon, if desired.  Add about ½ teas. of butter or margarine to reduce foaming (if desired).
  5. Bring the mixture quickly to a full boil (rolling boil that can’t be stirred down). Add sugar all at once, stirring well to dissolve, and return to a full, rolling boil. Be careful here, the syrup is very hot and can easily spatter.
  6. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Time exactly from when the mixture returned to a full boil.
  7. Remove from heat, skim off foam, ladle into prepared jars leaving 1/4″ head space.
  8. Process to 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove canning cover. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove jars from canner, place in a draft-free location to cool completely. Let sit for 24 hours.
  10. Test for seal (lids will be concave and have high-pitched “ping” sound). Remove bands, wipe thread. Label, date, and store for up to one year in dark, cool location.

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