Posts Tagged ‘Italians prunes’

Sunday, September 28th: It’s Still Summer, Apparently. And Yet… Hardy Kiwis, Brussels Sprouts & Wreaths Have Arrived!

September 27, 2014
Hardy kiwis from Green Water Farm. Photo courtesy Green Water Farm.

Hardy kiwis from Green Water Farm. Photo courtesy Green Water Farm.

It is hardy kiwi season at your Ballard Farmers Market, folks! Yessir, kiwis do grow around these parts. They are a small variety, about the size of a cherry tomato, and they are awesome! Green Water Farm grows them over in Port Townsend. We missed them here last year, as it was a rough year on the crop. No such problems this year, and they are rolling in earlier than ever! Yeehaw! (Sorry, I’m listening to The Outlaws while I write this.)

Walt models a Brussels sprout tree from Summer Run Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Walt models a Brussels sprout tree from Summer Run Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of earlier than ever, we have never seen Brussels sprouts in September before.. well, before now! In fact, I took this photo a week ago, meaning this is the earliest we’ve ever seen there here by over three weeks! What up?! Summer Run Farm wins this particular record-breaking crop lottery. So bring on fall! We’re ready!

Whole pastured chicken from Growing Things Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Whole pastured chicken from Growing Things Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

As of last Monday, we passed back into the dark side of the calendar. Longer nights mean cooler days, and cooler days mean roasting a chicken indoors is bearable again, and in fact, doing so reduces the need to turn on your heat overnight. So why not stop by Growing Things Farm for one of these gorgeous, and stunningly delicious, pasture-raised chickens today? These are the chickens my family eats for Thanksgiving. And just to clarify… “pasture-raised” means they get to run around all over the place outdoors. (Trust me, I’ve seen them.) It does not mean they’ve been treated with heat to sterilize them. That would be “pasteurized,” and that would make for a rather strange chicken.

Farhad from Tall Grass Bakery at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Farhad from Tall Grass Bakery at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Today is the final day for Farhad of Tall Grass Bakery at your Ballard Farmers Market… at least in his capacity working for them. Farhad is moving on to other projects after about eight years with Tall Grass. He has always been a delight to work with, and we’ll miss seeing him every Sunday. Stop by for a baguetteolive fougasse or loaf of hominy bread, and wish him well! (Note: Tall Grass Bakery ain’t going anywhere. They started with us over in Fremont about 15 years ago, and we’re pretty much joined at the hip now.)

Cherokee purple tomatoes from One Leaf Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Cherokee purple tomatoes from One Leaf Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

What an epic year for tomatoes! I’ve been hearing even the lamest of backyard gardeners saying they’ve been rocking the tomato action in their gardens this year. And no one rocks tomatoes quite like One Leaf Farm. These Cherokee Purple tomatoes, for instance, are outstanding right now. So juicy and perfect, begging for a dash of salt and a spoonful of mayo, or to be celebrated in a nice salad or sandwich.

Italian prunes from Booth Canyon Orchard at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Italian prunes from Booth Canyon Orchard at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Stina from Booth Canyon Orchard tells me that they have tons of these amazing Italian prunes this year. One of my favorite fruits, they are amazing dried, made into jams, chutneys or sauces, used to accent a nice duck or some pork, or just eaten right off of the stone. They are deeply sweet with a wonderful, thick flesh. And I think I’ll have one right now!

Pepper wreaths and strings from Alvarez Organic Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Pepper wreaths and strings from Alvarez Organic Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

It has been just over a month since my trip to visit Alvarez Organic Farms to see their acres and acres of pepper fields. They have over 400 varieties of peppers now. And they have a group there that has been crafting them into these spectacular pepper wreaths and pepper strings for years. But this year’s are especially beautiful. They will brighten your home for weeks, they make great gifts, and because they are not treated with anything, the peppers are fully edible after they’ve dried out.

Green cabbage from Nash's Organic Produce at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Green cabbage from Nash’s Organic Produce at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Thank you, Devon, for getting me another great recipe (below) from the kitchens of Nash’s Organic Produce. This week’s feature is cabbage, and they have lovely cabbage right now for you! They still have plenty of sweet corn, too, as well as celery root, spinach and basil, for that last dose of pesto. And they’ll have 3-pound bags of rainbow carrots for the next two weeks at a great value!

Cabbage Roll Casserole

Servings: 6

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 head cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups veggie or chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet, brown pork in oil over medium high heat until redness is gone. Drain off fat. In a large mixing bowl combine the onion, tomato sauce, cabbage, rice and salt. Add meat and mix all together. Pour mixture into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Pour broth over meat mixture and bake in the preheated oven, covered, for 1 hour. Stir, replace cover and bake for another 30 minutes.

Pie pumpkins and blue hubbard winter squash from Colinwood Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Pie pumpkins and blue hubbard winter squash from Colinwood Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

We finish off with some gorgeous gourds from Colinwood Farm. These are blue hubbard winter squash and sugar pie pumpkins. Hubbards make for great soups and stews, are great roasted, and are large enough to feed a small army. And the pumpkins make for great pies, custards and breads. Yes, it is warm and sunny again today, but it is fall, folks. Let’s enjoy it!

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.

Sunday, September 14th: Signs Of The Changing Seasons, In Spite Of The Thermometer!

September 14, 2014
Oysters on the half-shell, on the beach at Hama Hama Oyster Company. Photo courtesy Hama Hama Oyster Company.

Oysters on the half-shell, on the beach at Hama Hama Oyster Company. Photo courtesy Hama Hama Oyster Company.

Sorry I’m late getting this week’s post up. I was waylaid by the wonderful wedding of Chefs Dustin and Shannon of Art of the Table. Short on ceremony. Long on merriment and amazing local food, much of which came from the farmers right here at your Ballard Farmers Market! (Heck, some of those farmers were even there.) Congrats, kids! But let’s get down to bidniz here, as there is plenty of it. We are seeing strong signs of fall’s approach on our tables this week, in spite of what today’s weather forecast looks like. And cooler, longer nights (and a few epic gully washers) have brought water temps down enough for Hama Hama Oysters to be able to harvest from their oyster beds again. Says Lauren, “We’ll have Hama Hama and Blue Pool oysters again this weekend. Oyster season is back on!”

Suncrest peaches from Booth Canyon Orchard at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Suncrest peaches from Booth Canyon Orchard at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

And I love it when our vendors make it easy for me by writing copy and sending it to me. Text like this from Stina of Booth Canyon Orchard:

We have TONS of Italian prunes this year. We will have them at Ballard Farmers Market for at least the next 3-4 weeks. Also this week, very special Crandall BLACK CURRANTS. Not sure what one does with them, but European baker types rave about them. This week also: Sweet 16 apples, Orcas pears (this week only), and more Suncrest peaches (pictured above… last week for those).

And if you have a favorite use for those Crandall Black Currents, do share. (And thanks, Stina!)

Black turtle shelling beans from Growing Things Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Black turtle shelling beans from Growing Things Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Growing Things Farm’s lovely displays of green beans have given way to displays of shelling beans now. See, that’s what many of those green beans do. They mature into these shelling beans. It’s like “green onions” and “green garlic.” It’s the immature fruit of the plant. And these black turtle shelling beans are the mature fruit. If you like black beans, these are them, fresh from the field. Pop open the pod, and those beans are black as night! And they will taste better than any dried beans you’ve ever had, too.

Italian prunes from ACMA Mission Orchards at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Italian prunes from ACMA Mission Orchards at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of Italian prunes, ACMA Mission Orchards has them right now, too. But aren’t these really plums, you ask? Aren’t all prunes dried plums? Actually, all plums are members of the family Prunus. These are proper prunes, with a more oval shape, to a plum’s round shape. And all prunes are freestones, meaning they come easily off of their pit for easy eating, drying and cooking. Think of the sauces, chutney and jams! This is an extraordinary year for these prunes, like so many other crops, so enjoy it while you can.

Celery from One Leaf Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Celery from One Leaf Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s getting deep into celery season folks. Nothing like some crisp celery on a crisp night. Besides, you are cooking more now, and your heartier fall recipes call for lots of this super food. Lucky for you, One Leaf Farm has some gorgeous celery right now, grown just a few miles from here in Carnation!

Gene Panida of Wilson Fish holding a whole wild Washington king salmon at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Gene Panida of Wilson Fish holding a whole wild Washington king salmon at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

The Washington coastal king salmon fishing season closes on September 15th — that’s Tuesday. And it means that you have just this Sunday and next to get some of this amazing fresh, local king salmon from our friends at Wilson Fish. And don’t forget their amazing smoked king salmon, too!

Belgian-style ales from Propolis Brewing. Photo copyright 2014 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Belgian-style ales from Propolis Brewing at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Piper from Propolis Brewing reports that they have a few new releases today, and the return of their award-winning Litha, their chamomile golden saison. Their three new releases include:
  • Salmonberry Sour 7.5% ~ a tart, creamy, woodsy, can’t-put-your-finger-on-it…wild salmonberry ale… Ridiculous…and very limited…
  • Erthe 4.5% ~ a crisp golden saison brewed with thyme (classic refreshing Golden Saison)
  • Gardin 7.5% ~ an amber herbal saison aged in a beautiful Eaglemount Syrah barrel
And it’s last call for Corona Farms Borage ~ a borage flower ale with delicate cucumber, floral, marmalade champagne notes.
Coriander from Oxbow Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Coriander from Oxbow Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Here is something we don’t see very often at your Ballard Farmers Market: coriander! But given this summer’s heat, many a farmer’s cilantro crop bolted. And a few patient farmers just let it go to seed. And what is the seed of cilantro called? That’s right, it’s called coriander. If you are in the market for the freshest coriander you will ever encounter, stop by Oxbow Farm today and grab a bunch. Oh, and they’ll have some righteous strawberries today, too, as well as some lovely table grapes.

Concorde pears from Tiny's Organic at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Concorde pears from Tiny’s Organic at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Big, beautiful and delicious Concorde pears from Tiny’s Organic are in at your Ballard Farmers Market. These giants of the pear world are the quintessential pear, a cross between the great ancient Conference and Comice varieties, developed in England years ago. They enjoy a superior flavor, texture and a dramatic, classical pear shape. They are only around for a month or two each fall, so enjoy them while you can!

Winter squash from Boistfort Valley Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Winter squash from Boistfort Valley Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Holy season changes, Batman! Winter squash is in the house at your Ballard Farmers Market! Yup. Several farmers today will have the sweet, delicious gourds favored for the cold, dark, wet months. With our nights longer and cooler, it is time to crank up the oven and roast you some squashy deliciousness, filling your whole home with its aroma before you devour it mercilessly. These particular beauties come from Boistfort Valley Farm.

Sweet corn from Alm Hill Gardens at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Sweet corn from Alm Hill Gardens at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

More Westside sweet corn has arrived at your Ballard Farmers Market. You’ll find these big, beautiful, sweet ears of corn from Alm Hill Gardens in Everson.

Here is a tip for chosing corn:instead of pulling open the top to see if it is filled out, simply run your thumb over the outside of the husk. You can easily feel the mature kernels inside. See, when you actually tear the corn open, you are actually ruining it either for yourself or the next person, because the minute you do that, all the delicious sugars in it that make it so sweet begin to turn to starch. So please, never tear open the husk to examine it before you buy it. If you need help choosing the best ears, just ask. Our farmers are more than happy to lend you a hand.

Kimchi, Krauts & more from Firefly Kitchens at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Kimchi, Krauts & more from Firefly Kitchens at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Look who’s back today at your Ballard Farmers Market! It’s Firefly Kitchens, and their awesome selection of naturally fermented vegetables made with great local ingredients. Choose from their award-winning kimchi, their Yin-Yang carrots, or any of their krauts, from the classic kraut that is the friend of hot dogs everywhere, to the brilliant caraway kraut that pairs perfectly with any of the various bratwursts from the farmers in the Market.

Rainbow carrots from Nash's Organic Produce at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Rainbow carrots from Nash’s Organic Produce at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

You may recall that 2013 was a great year for many crops, but a lousy year for carrots. And the carrots for which Nash’s Organic Produce is famous took a particularly bad beating last year. So this year, to hedge their bets, Nash’s planted a lot more carrots. Of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, 2014 turned out to be a great year for carrots. The result is, Nash’s has lots of their famous carrots now, and they are offering them at a special price today.

Sweet peppers from Colinwood Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Sweet peppers from Colinwood Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Colinwood Farm is harvesting a bunch of beautiful peppers from their greenhouses in Port Townsend this summer. They have these colorful sweet peppers as well as a great selection of hot peppers. And while it is true that Westside peppers tend not to be as hot as Eastside peppers, even the Westsiders are toasty this year. See, hot peppers get their heat enhanced by the sun. More sun and more heat means hotter peppers. Their poblano peppers are particularly good right now. Enjoy!

Young reishi mushrooms from Ascended Grounds at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Young reishi mushrooms from Ascended Grounds at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

This is a block of fresh, young reishi mushrooms that were ground by Cascadia Mushrooms for Ascended Grounds. Ascended Grounds then takes these wonderfully medicinal fungi and makes beverages and tinctures that are both delicious and darn good for you. I’m not sure I am versed well enough to do it justice, but they say, “Ascended Grounds transforms what it means to drink a cup of coffee. Using the ascended health practices of ancient masters, we are awakening your mug and your consciousness to upgrade your health and quality of life. Let us introduce you to the incredible synergy of medicinal mushrooms and coffee. Your ‘morning cup of joe’ will never be generic again!” Stop by today for a taste, and for the whole story, at your Ballard Farmers Market!

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.

Sunday, August 31st: Ginormous Juicy Melons, Adorable Summer Squash, Charming Cherry Tomatoes, Glorious Gala Apples & Saying Sayonara To Succulents… For Now, Anyway.

August 30, 2014
Succulents in late summer light from Phocas Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Succulents in late summer light from Phocas Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Hey kids! September begins… tomorrow! And that means our buddy, Jimmy, from Phocas Farms, has to retire to his farm in Port Angeles to tend to his saffron crop, which is beginning to spring to life now. So today is your last chance until early next year to stock up on succulents and saffron corms to plant in your own yard. Stop by today, get what you need, and wish Jimmy a happy fall and a bountiful saffron harvest!

Ginormous melons from Lyall Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Ginormous melons from Lyall Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Lyall Farms has lots of these ginormous, delicious, juicy melons right now at  your Ballard Farmers Market. They grow all different kinds of melons, some all too familiar, and others downright strange. But they are all great and just waiting to make a mess out of your best shirt!

A rainbow of carrots from Oxbow Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

A rainbow of carrots from Oxbow Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Oxbow Farm is rocking the carrots right now, in a rainbow of colors. They’ve got ’em white, orange and purple at present, each with their own particular levels of sweetness, some suited best for roasting, while others are best raw. So stop by and get your carrot on now! And if you want to learn more about carrots than you ever thought there was to know about them, check out the World Carrot Museum online, where you’ll learn, for instance, that orange is a relatively new color for carrots.

Late summer strawberries from Sidhu Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Late summer strawberries from Sidhu Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Sidhu Farms has a fresh crop of late summer strawberries for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Gorgeous, aren’t they? These are from a class of strawberry varieties known as “ever-bearing,” which means they will keep producing blooms and fruit until it gets too cold and dark to do so. Spring varieties are known as “June-bearing,” which means they are naturally genetically preset to bloom and produce fruit for only a specific period of time, usually 10-14 days in and around June, after which they go dormant again until next year. See, aren’t you glad you tuned in to your Ballard Farmers Market blog this week?

Baby summer squash from Growing Things Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Baby summer squash from Growing Things Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Meet baby squash, little summer squash that are so sweet and so beautiful, and the perfect size for sautéing whole. See, Growing Things Farm sorts their summer squash by size — baby, toddler, adolescent… even tiny ones with full blossoms attached — so that you can get the perfect ones for your special meal… which ends up being every meal, when you eat them!

Gala apples from Martin Family Orchards at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Gala apples from Martin Family Orchards at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

These are Gala apples from Martin Family Orchards, just in time for packing in the kiddies lunch bags. (Yikes! Tomorrow is September!) And in case you haven’t noticed, this year has seen the fruit trees of Washington put out record fruit sets of the most delicious fruit ever, earlier than ever. See, global warming does have its up sides.

Celery from Boistfort Valley Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Celery from Boistfort Valley Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s celery season, good people of Ballard! Wait, what? Celery season, you ask? I get it. You still get your celery at the Big Box store, and they have it all year-round. But that celery cannot hold a candle to this celery from Boistfort Valley FarmThis celery is fresh, firm, crisp and, believe it or not, sweet. Yes, sweet. That’s because of its freshness and how it is grown. See, the celery you are getting from the Big Box store was harvested a week or two ago and shipped here from thousands of miles away. This celery was harvested yesterday afternoon in Thurston County. If you have never had farm-fresh celery, you owe it to yourself to try some today. You will never look at Big Box celery the same again!

Early Italian prunes from Magana Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Early Italian prunes from Magana Farms at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

I heart Italian prunes. Yes, prunes. Not plums. These are early Italian prunes from Magana Farms. Prunes are a free-stone stone fruit, meaning they release easily from their pit. They have a denser, sweeter flesh than plums, which are not free-stone, and they take well to cooking and drying, though I love them fresh, too. Of course, the Corporate Agribusiness Yahoos at the California Prune Board would have you believe that these are plums. Why? Because they are about marketing, not about food, and they worry that “prune” is too closely associated with keeping ones bowels regular. And I won’t lie to you… they will do just that. But that should not be a reason to rename them. I mean, why are we so afraid of stuff that is good for us, to the extent we will avoid it even though it is also delicious? How stupid have we become? Well, if you go ask Sam at Pasteria Lucchese what he thinks, he will tell you that he and his fellow Italians are still proud to call these what they really are: prunes! Celebrate them! Eat them! Sauce them! Syrup them! Dry them! Just don’t call them plums!

Artichokes from Nash's Organic Produce at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Artichokes from Nash’s Organic Produce at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Another true love of Italians everywhere (and especially in Italy, for some reason) are fresh artichokes. They steam them. They grill them. They toss them with pasta, make them into soup, put them on pizza. They are crazy for them! If you are, too, now is your time. Get thee to Nash’s Organic Produce with all due haste and enjoy these beautiful artichokes today!

Cherry tomatoes from Gaia's Harmony Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Cherry tomatoes from Gaia’s Harmony Farm at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Gaia’s Harmony Farm has lots and lots of these spectacular cherry tomatoes today! But wait, don’t they just sell berries and juice, you ask? Nope. So come get you some of these wonderful, organic cherry tomatoes today at your Ballard Farmers Market!

Artisan breads from Tall Grass Bakery at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Artisan breads from Tall Grass Bakery at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Nothing like a nice, chewy loaf of crusty artisan bread from Tall Grass Bakery to make your meal complete. From pain au levain, a lovely, sour loaf made with whole wheat, to hominy, made with, um, hominy, to their just plain comforting oat and honey bread, Tall Grass has set the standard for great bread in Seattle since their humble beginning with our market organization almost 20 years ago.

These organic estate wines come from Wilridge Winery in Madrona. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

These organic estate wines come from Wilridge Winery in Madrona. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Don’t forget a nice bottle of wine from Seattle’s original winery: Wilridge. These bottles, above, in fact, are their estate wines, made from grapes they grow themselves in the tiny Naches Heights appellation, just west of Yakima in the foothills of the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains. Stop by their tent for a sample today, then grab a bottle of Washington winemaking history from right here in Seattle to enjoy tonight!

A bee enjoying a sunflower from The Old Farmer at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

A bee enjoying a sunflower from The Old Farmer at Ballard Farmers Market. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Let us finish this week’s epistle with this image of a happy little honey bee on freshly cut sunflowers from The Old Farmer, just across the isle from Oxbow Farm at your Ballard Farmers Market. Ballard is home to lots of honey bees, many of which reside atop restaurants like Bastille. And on Sundays, they get to enjoy the wonders of the Market just like you do!

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.

Sunday, August 12th: Yes, We Can! And Pickle! And Freeze! And Dry!

August 12, 2012

Packing pickle jars. Photo copyright 2005 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Yes, we can! Food, that is. That’s right. It is time for us to get in touch with our inner squirrel and put up summer deliciousness to be enjoyed in the cold, dark wet months that will be here sooner than we want to believe. It is simple to enjoy the tastes of summer all year round with just a little effort. Can it. Pickle it. Freeze it. Dry it. Make a family activity out of it. Make enough to give it as gifts come the holiday season. And save money! Think about it. You pay $2 for a bag of frozen organic corn at the Big Box store, right? Well, for $2, you can get three ears of organic corn at your Ballard Farmers Market, cut it off the cob as soon as you get home today, and fill two pint freezer bags to put in your freezer for winter. That’s two bags for what you’d pay for one later. And it’ll be better tasting, support local farmers, and you’ll know exactly where it came from.

Pickling cucumbers from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wanna make pickles? Get some of these great organic pickling cucumbers from Alm Hill Gardens. And you’ll find pickling dill and lots of garlic throughout the Market, too, for your pickling needs. Then, all you need is salt, vinegar and spices, and you’ve got garlic dill pickles to bring to parties in December!

Roma tomatoes from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Want to enjoy local tomato goodness come winter? Then can or freeze some of these roma tomatoes from Alvarez Organic Farms now. Frankly, you can can, sauce and freeze many kinds of tomatoes, but romas have that thick flesh and deep, rich flavor when cooked, and they are easy to prep, with minimal seeds. Add some garlicbasil or cilantro and some salt, and you’ve got sauce ready to go!

Shelling peas from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

English shelling peas from Stoney Plains Organic Farm are sweet and crunchy now, and they are ridiculously easy to freeze, so you can enjoy them all winter long. Buy a big bag of them, and then put on your favorite music or TV show, get out a big bowl, and shuck the peas into that bowl until you’ve exhausted the entire bag. Then, pack the loose peas into pint freezer bags, as they are closest in size to what you’ll find in the Big Box store freezer isle, which is a very convenient size. You do not need to blanch peas first. And I recommend that you pack the pint bags inside a larger gallon freezer bag just to give them extra protection, and so you don’t have dozens of little bags sliding around in your freezer. Then, in January, when you need to add peas to soup, fried rice or a pasta dish, just pull a pint bag out and pour them in. They’ll cook fast, and it is easy to reseal the zipper lock freezer bag if you don’t use them all.

Early Italian prunes from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These are Early Italian Prunes from Lyall Farms. Not plums. Prunes. Yes, there is a difference, regardless of what some PR spin doctors in California would like you to believe. For my money, this is the king of all stone fruits — deeply sweet with a toothsome flesh, great for sauces, drying, ice cream, or just eating right off of the stone. For drying, just cut them in half right off the stone and place them in your dehydrator, skin side down. Easy peasy. Once dried, they will keep in your cabinet for months!

Spanish roja & rocambok garlic from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

You’ll need garlic. Lots of garlic. Like this garlic from Summer Run Farm. Garlic for your tomatoes. Garlic for your pickles. Heck, pickle some garlic! And, of course, it stores well itself. Ask your farmer which varieties keep longest and which should be used sooner. There are many varieties of garlic, too, and their strengths and flavor profiles vary, so find one the fits your purposes and your palate.

Wild elderberries from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These are wild elderberries harvested by Foraged & Found Edibles. Sure, you can make jam out of them. But how’s about making homemade elderberry wine with them? That’ll be lovely at Thanksgiving dinner, don’t you think? And you can justify this effort knowing that elderberries are a superfood, with more beneficial flavonoids than most other berries.

Fresh basil from Pa Garden. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And basil. Like this basil from Pa Garden. You’ll not only need basil for those canned tomatoes, but did you know that you can make fresh basil pesto, put it into an ice cube tray and into the freezer, and when it’s frozen, you can pop the cubes into a freezer bag for later use. Then, when you want to add some pesto to your pasta or any other dish, just pull out the appropriate number of cubes, and you’re ready for action with fresh pesto in February!

Blueberries from Jessie’s Berries. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Let’s finish off today’s epistle with blueberries from Jessie’s Berries. A superfood in their own right, they are also absurdly easy to freeze. Buy a flat of them, bring them home, and give them a rinse in your colander. Line a glass baking dish or metal cookie sheet with some paper towels. Pour your rinsed berries onto the paper towels and roll them around to get most of the water off of them. Then, remove the paper towels and put the baking dish in the freezer with the berries one layer deep. They’ll be frozen enough in one hour to be poured into a gallon freezer bag for storage. Repeat this process until all berries are washed and frozen, or when you run out of space in your freezer bag. Now, you got delicious, local blueberries to enjoy all winter long in your oatmeal, muffins, pies, sauces, whatever. They should stay loose, so it’ll be easy to take out as few or as many as you need!

Finally, another reminder to please bring your own bags today, and every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.