Posts Tagged ‘pickling cucumbers’

Sunday, August 24th: Prolific Crops of August, 2014!

August 23, 2014
Bags of pickling cucumbers from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Bags of pickling cucumbers from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

As growing seasons go here in Washington, few in memory have been more epic than the summer of 2014. Crop after crop has come in earlier, produced larger yields and tasted better than ever before. And one such stunning crop is pickling cucumbers, which have been with us in earnest since a mind-blowing June! These particular bags of pickling cukes come from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. As you can see, their cukes are nice and straight, making them ideal for packing in mason jars for pickling. And you can get these bags pre-sorted by size, such as “extra small,” “small,” “medium” and “large,” so if you are putting up a lot of pickles this year, you can just get the size you want in one of these bags and make your like much easier. I have been pickling Stoney Plains cukes since the mid-1990s. I used to get them from Terry’s dad, Bob Meyer, at the Olympia Farmers Market that he helped found in the late 1970s. In fact, Bob also help found Washington Tilth Producers, Washington State Farmers Market Association and the Organically Grown cooperative distributors. We lost Bob back in 2002, but all of us who love great, local food here in Washington still owe him a great debt of gratitude, and I, for one, dedicate one jar of pickles to his memory every year!

Hot chile peppers from Alvarez Organic Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Hot chile peppers from Alvarez Organic Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

I was over visiting Hilario and Eddie Alvarez on their farm in Mabton, Washington on Friday. Alvarez Organic Farms now counts the number of chile pepper varieties they grow at more than 400, many of which are new varieties without names that have resulted from crossbreeding amongst the other varieties. Don Hilario took me on an exhaustive tour of his pepper fields (well, it exhausted me, but I think he could have kept going all night), and just when I thought I had seen every pepper on earth in the many acres of peppers in the fields behind his house on the mother farm, he said with pride, “Okay, now let me show the farm where we grow the bigger varieties of peppers!” I think that farm had more peppers on it than the mother farm. Hilario grows them all with pride, and his son, Eddie, brings them by the truckload to us here at your Ballard Farmers Market every Sunday. For that, we are all grateful. 2014 is an extraordinary year for peppers, too, with the hot, dry, sunny days making their plants produce more peppers that are more colorful, sweeter and hotter than ever! Enjoy.

Fresh basil from Growing Things Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh basil from Growing Things Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

It is time to get your pesto on, folks, or whatever you like to do best with fresh basil from Growing Things Farm! Their basil is so beautiful and fragrant right now, ready for your caprese salads, that fish, that perfect dessert with peaches and more. I had the good fortune of visiting Michaele and her crew on the farm on Thursday in Duvall, and to see their robust basil fields. This is food grown with love!

Purple Sensation pears from ACMA Mission Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Purple Sensation pears from ACMA Mission Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Say what? Yes, these are a new crop of pears. These are organic Purple Sensation pears from ACMA Mission Orchards, just in time for packing in the kiddies lunch bags (say it ain’t so!). 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.

Tomatoes from Colinwood Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatoes from Colinwood Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatoes. If you aren’t relishing 2014’s absolute abundance of tomatoes of all kinds, you must not love tomatoes. Because many of us live through the cold, dark, wet months solely for the promise of farm fresh, vine=ripened tomatoes come summer, and this summer’s bounty is enough to carry us through two Northwest winters. These gorgeous maters are from our buddies at Colinwood Farm in Port Townsend.

Blueberries and raspberries from Hayton Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Blueberries and raspberries from Hayton Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Just in case you missed the memo, raspberries are back in full force now from several farms. These are from Hayton Berry Farms, up in Skagit Valley. They’ve also got these lovely blueberries currently, as well as their most prolific blackberry harvest in years. Yes, this continues to be an epic year for berries folks. Make sure you take advantage!

Bratwurst from Skagit River Ranch. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Bratwurst from Skagit River Ranch. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Holy cow! Labor Day Weekend is next week! Time to get ready. Load up on sausagessteakschops and more from Skagit River Ranch today, and get grilling with the family while everyone is all in one place at the same time for the last time until Thanksgiving!

Baby red romaine lettuce from One Leaf Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Baby red romaine lettuce from One Leaf Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Look kids! It is adorable little heads of baby red romaine from One Leaf Farm! The summer of 2014 has been great for lettuce, too. One Leaf grows a lovely selection of heirloom lettuces that are beautiful and delicious. But like so much else this summer, you had better enjoy it now with vigor, lest you regret missing it come December.

Fortune plums from Collins Family Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Fortune plums from Collins Family Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

We are getting into serious plum season now, with such deeply sweet and complexly flavored varieties such as these Fortune plums from Collins Family Orchards from Selah. They are big, juicy and ready to eat, and you have to admit, they are also gorgeous, eh?

Eggplant from Alm Hill Gardens. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Eggplant from Alm Hill Gardens. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Spectacular eggplant from Alm Hill Gardens awaits you today at your Ballard Farmers Market! I enjoyed some simply pan-fried last night. Awesome. Eggplant, like peppers and tomatoes, comes from the summer-loving nightshade family, and that means it, too, is having an epic year. Try some on the grill, alongside those sausages!

Fresh kombucha from CommuniTea. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh kombucha from CommuniTea. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Have you had a refreshing bottle of kombucha from Communi-Tea Kombucha lately? Then today’s is a good day for one! Communi-Tea brews its kombucha in Seattle’s Central District. It is real, unfiltered, and comes with a small amount of naturally occurring alcohol, so you have to be 21 to buy it. But that means this is honest kombucha. And it comes in eco-friendly refillable bottles, too!

Jersey cow yogurt from Samish Bay Cheese. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Jersey cow yogurt from Samish Bay Cheese. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Looking for Jersey cow yogurt? Samish Bay Cheese, from Bow, Washington, has it! They offer it in plain and Greek, and occasionally they have seasonal flavored versions. Samish Bay also has a great lineup of award-winning cheeses, as well as grass-fed beef and pastured pork. Yummers!

Raisin pumpernickel bread from Sonhomish Bakery. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Raisin pumpernickel bread from Sonhomish Bakery. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Have you been on the lookout for a nice raisin pumpernickel bread around Seattle, but been frustrated in your search? Snohomish Bakery has you covered! So grab a loaf today, and enjoy the toast you’ve been missing tomorrow!

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 25th: Fresh Shelling Beans, Crisp Celery, Marvelous Melons, Bagged Bulk Cukes, Pretty Pears & More!

August 24, 2013
Fresh cranberry beans from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh cranberry beans from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Hey kids! It’s shelling bean season! And they are in much earlier than last year. These are cranberry beans from Alm Hill Gardens. You are probably most familiar with them as dried beans, but when they’re fresh like this, they are quick to cook and extremely versatile. Honestly, my favorite thing to do with them this time of year is make succotash. Grab some bacon from Skagit River Ranch, some sweet corn and parsley from Alm Hill, some green onion from Children’s Garden and some garlic from Jarvis Family Garlic Farm, and you’ve got all the ingredients you’ll need for a simple and fresh succotash. Enjoy!

Cantaloupe melon from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cantaloupe melon from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Okay, admit it. You just banged your nose or your finger into your screen while going after this gorgeous organic cantaloupe melon from Alvarez Organic Farms. I snapped this photo on Wednesday at our sister Wallingford Farmers Market. Oh, if you could just smell this melon. Wow. Sweet and juicy and absolutely incredible tasting.

Bagged bulk pickling cucumbers from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Bagged bulk pickling cucumbers from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

If you are like me, when you make pickles, you make a lot of pickles. See, I use them as gifts and trade all winter long. Well, to make things easy for folks like us, Stoney Plains Organic Farm offers these bulk bags of their certified organic pickling cucumbers. They pack them in 20 pound pages, and I figure about a pound per wide-mouth canning jar. I love working with their cukes in part because they are straight and uniform, making packing of pickle jars easier.

Asian pears from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Asian pears from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This time of year, it is kind of mind boggling just how many different varieties of fruit you will find coming into season at ACMA Mission Orchards. Like these Asian pears that just came into season this past week, along with something like four different kinds of peaches, a couple kinds of apples and a plum. What makes things more challenging and adventurous for us is that many of these varieties will only be available at your Ballard Farmers Market for a week or two, so if you want to try them, or if you already love them, you need to act fast, but do so with the joy of knowing that next week, you’ll get to test drive a whole new selection of fruit.

See, ACMA plants a huge diversity of fruit trees, not just because they like each variety, which they do, or because they think it’s cool to offer such an extraordinary number of different kinds of fruit, though we think it’s cool. No, they plant all of these varieties because they come in and out of season a few at a time, from the start of June through the end of October. It just makes good business sense to have fresh fruit every week, you know? And each type of tree in their orchards is naturally genetically programmed to have its fruit come to maturity at a different time. If they had just one or two kinds of cherries, apples and peaches, not only would it be boring for us, but their entire year’s income would be dependent on the success of a few crops, and at greater risk to the mercies of the marketplace. That’s the fate many orchardists face who mono-crop for the big packing houses whose prices are set on the commodities markets, and who sell only a few varieties to the Big Box stores, because that’s what they’ve trained people to think of as “cherry” or “peach” or “apple.”

That’s why ACMA instead comes to your Ballard Farmers Market. You get a plethora of fruit varieties all year long. They get a much more secure and sustainable marketplace for their harvest, and they don’t have to share the sales price with a bunch of nameless, faceless executives from the packing houses, warehouses, brokers and Big Box Stores.

Tomatoes from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatoes from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomato season is in full swing now at your Ballard Farmers Market, and I thought I’d take a break from showcasing our new resident rock star tomato farmers at One Leaf Farm to share with you some gorgeous tomatoes from our friends at Summer Run Farm, which is just across the valley from One Leaf. Yeah, baby! More maters!

Bartlett pears from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Bartlett pears from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It is pear season at your Ballard Farmers Market, earlier than we’ve ever seen them before. These beauties are Bartlett pears from our friends at Collins Family Orchards. They’ve also got some great late-season peaches and nectarines now, too. This really has been one amazing summer, eh?

Fresh Herbs de Provence & Garlic-Parsley Chevre in new packaging from Twin Oaks Creamery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Herbs de Provence & Garlic-Parsley Chevre in new packaging from Twin Oaks Creamery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Meet Herbs de Provence and Garlic-Parlsey chevre from Twin Oaks Farm in Chehalis. Okay, this chevre is not new to your Ballard Farmers Market, but it is different. See, they ditched the plastic wrap and switched to small containers for their packaging. It makes for a more attractive, less messy chevre that is easy for you to dive into, and you can reuse or easily recycle the container — more than you can say for that plastic wrap!

Crisp celery from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Crisp celery from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Maybe it’s just me, but frankly, I was almost as excited to see this fresh crop of celery from One Leaf Farm show up this week at our sister Madrona Farmers Market as I have been to see all of their dozen or so tomato varieties come into season. Seriously, there is nothing quite like a crisp stalk of locally-grown celery fresh from the farm. It is sweeter and tastier, and once you try it, you won’t look at this staple of most kitchens quite the same when you see it in the Big Box stores.

Red Hiromi plums from Tiny's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Red Hiromi plums from Tiny’s Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Now, that is one spectacular plum, don’t you think? It is a Red Hiromi plum from Tiny’s Organic Produce. It is the first plum harvested at Tiny’s each summer. It tends to have a mildly sweet to slighty tart flavor, and it must be very soft before eating to bring out maximum flavor, Tiny’s advises.

Korean garlic from Jarvis Family Garlic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Korean garlic from Jarvis Family Garlic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Have you checked out the selection of heirloom garlics offered by Jarvis Family Garlic Farm from over in the Dungeness River Valley of Clallam County in the Banana Belt? It is amazing stuff grown in an microclimate perfectly suited to garlic. Jarvis has garlic ranging from mild to hot, pleasant to testing who loves you after you’ve eaten it. Stop by for a garlic lesson, and try out a few kinds. Remember, there is no such thing as too much garlic.

Fresh pink salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh pink salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It is high time for pink salmon from Loki Fish at your Ballard Farmers Market. Whether you are enjoying the last of their fresh catch from Alaska, or the first of their Puget Sound catch, which just started, this wonderful salmon that is so often relegated to cans is incredibly versatile. It takes well to grilling, smoking, pickling, marinating, seasoning and saucing. It is pink instead of red, like its cousins, because pink salmon is vegetarian. And it only returns to Puget Sound every other year, which makes it so much more important to enjoy it now, while you can. 2013 is shaping up to see an historically large pink salmon run here, too. So, celebrate with our truly local salmon!

Fresh grapes from Magana Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh grapes from Magana Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Magaña Farms has the first table grapes of the year for your snacking, juicing and raisining pleasure. These white table grapes are wonderfully sweet and juicy, and they beat the heck out of eating grapes from the Southern Hemisphere, which you end up doing much of the year, if you are getting your grapes from the Big Box store. Washington produces a lot of grapes. They don’t all have to be made into wine.

Experimental brie from Port Madison Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Experimental brie from Port Madison Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This is called Experimental Brie, and it is one of three kinds of brie that Port Madison Farm is making currently with its goat milk. It has a lovely tang and a flavorful rind, and it just begs for a nice crusty baguette from Tall Grass Bakery. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we only have three more weeks with Port Madison’s cheese before they leave us again. So take full advantage of their wonderful offerings now!

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.

Please remember bring your own bags 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.

Sunday, July 14th: Sweet Corn, New Apples, Heirloom Tomatoes, Pickling Cucumbers, Salmon, Oysters & Ballard Seafood Fest!

July 13, 2013
Viking purple potatoes from Olsen Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Viking purple potatoes from Olsen Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Happy 2013 Ballard Seafood Fest! And have you seen this year’s logo, or mascot, or whatever it is? I guess its some sort of fishmonger superhero, but it was kinda lost on me. So I decided to use these Viking purple potatoes instead! This is the new crop of them from that sturdy Scandinavian family at Olsen Farms, which makes them even more fitting, and they’d be lovely steamed and mashed with some good butter alongside a nice serving of lutefisk, or maybe some salmon. Here are a few tips for managing your trip today to your Ballard Farmers Market:

  • If you are planning to shop at the farmers market and then attend Seafood Fest, bring a good cooler and plenty of ice or gel packs, and if driving, park in the shade if you can.
  • Don’t store items like berries and salad greens in a hot car, and avoid putting berries, peaches, corn and tomatoes in your cooler, as cold hurts them.
  • If you are just going to shop at the farmers market, we recommend you get here before noon to avoid Seafood Fest crowds and associated parking hassles.
  • Try to walk, ride your bike or take the bus today, as parking will be challenging.
  • Remember that Market Street is closed from 20th to 24th, 22nd is closed from Shilshole to 57th & Ballard Ave is closed from Vernon Place to Market.
  • If spending the whole day, remember to keep hydrated.
  • Pack your patience and enjoy the day. The forecast is for perfect weather!

By the way, we want to give one more plug for the Growing Things Farm Kick Starter campaign. While they have reached their minimum goal of $20,000 to frame out the house once raised above the floodline, they would like to raise another $10,000 so that they can install the plumbing, electrical and insulation, in order to make the farmhouse truly livable.

Sweet corn from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Sweet corn from Lyall Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For the love of Mike, is that sweet corn? Yup. The earliest we’ve ever seen it here. This bi-colored sweet corn is from Lyall Farms. They just started harvesting it this week. In fact, just so you know I’m not pulling your leg, I took this photo on Friday at our sister Madrona Farmers Market. And this stuff is suh-weeeet!

Lodi apples from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Lodi apples from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And speaking of absurdly early crops, we usually don’t see these Lodi apples until the first week of August! Really. Lodi apples are usually the first apple of the year, with a crisp bite and a tart flavor. So start keeping that doctor away today!

Paul Robeson heirloom tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Paul Robeson heirloom tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wow. The crops just keep coming in earlier than ever this year. This is the earliest, by two weeks, that we’ve ever seen heirloom tomatoes arrive. One Leaf Farm grows these Paul Robeson tomatoes just over in Carnation, in East King County. They just started harvesting them, so they’ll go fast. Get here early!

Fresh Bucks program starts today at Ballard Farmers Market!

Fresh Bucks program starts today at Ballard Farmers Market!

A program called Fresh Bucks has been created by a partnership between the City of Seattle and local farmers markets to double Food Stamps, now known as SNAP, at Seattle farmers markets. Beginning TODAY, July 14th, for every SNAP dollar spent at Ballard Farmers Market, SNAP benefits users can receive an additional dollar to spend on fruits & vegetables, up to 10 dollars. Get them, and more information, from at Market Information Desk at your Ballard Farmers Market at the Vernon Place end of the Market. You can also get more information from the Washington State Farmers Market Association. Tell your friends, family and neighbors!

Fresh whole Alaskan sockeye salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh whole Alaskan sockeye salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Since it is Seafood Fest, we really should talk about all the great seafood you can find at your Ballard Farmers Market, right? Especially right now! For instance, Loki Fish has all five species of Pacific salmon fresh right now, from their boats fishing in Alaska. Above is whole sockeye salmon. Yeah, baby!

Cauliflower from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cauliflower from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Summer Run Farm has these gorgeous heads of cauliflower right now. I’ve been roasting it in the oven lately, tossed with some olive oil, salt, pepper and crushed cayenne. Set the oven at about 425, and cook until just tender, and maybe a little browned on top. You can grill it, too!

Vans cherries from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Vans cherries from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

We’ve heard plenty of talk about smaller cherry harvests and higher cherry prices in the news lately, but truth be told, that’s not what we’re seeing at your Ballard Farmers Market. That’s because our farmers grow specifically for you, and they grow a diversity of cherry varieties, which helps them insure against early freezes and heavy rains. See, the big orchards that grow for the warehouses that sell to the Big Box stores, China and Japan just grow a couple of preferred cherries, like Bings and Rainiers, and when those two crops are impacted, it drives the price up at the Big Box stores. But farms like Collins Family Orchards from Selah are growing just for us, so the price they charge isn’t affected by demand from Japan. Plus, they grow outstanding varieties unaffected by the commodities market, like these Vans cherries, which for my money are the cherry’s cherry – a rich, dark, deeply flavored cherry that is not too sweet or too mild.

Fennel bulb from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fennel bulb from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Boistfort Valley Farm returned to your Ballard Farmers Market last week with their usual compliment of stunning produce. Like this fennel bulb, which is great caramelized and served atop some pork, or pickled, and it is awesome grilled, too! It has a sweet, licorice flavor. And you can eat it raw on your salads, fronds and all. Clean it thoroughly, though, like a leek.

Fresh red king salmon from Wilson Fish.Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh red king salmon from Wilson Fish.Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

More seafood! This wild king salmon was caught by Wilson Fish just off the coast of Washington. It is so fresh, they like to say it is from the future. It is at least safe to say that you won’t find it fresher unless you catch it yourself. They also have some coho salmonhalibut and amazing smoked king salmon now, too!

Certified organic blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Certified organic blueberries from Whitehorse Meadows Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Whitehorse Meadows Farm returns today with their amazing certified organic blueberries grown up in North Snohomish County. Their blueberry varieties range from domesticated to almost still wild, and you’ll enjoy comparing their different berries across the season.

Stunning succulents from Phocas Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Stunning succulents from Phocas Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I made a mistake last week when I told you that Phocas Farms would not be back this week. I errantly understood that we needed their space for one of our returning seasonal farmers, but I was wrong. Hmm. I think that means I will only be wrong another two times this year, if averages hold up. But I digress. Phocas Farms is here today with lots of gorgeous succulents — they raise over 200 varieties — and in another week or two, they will actually have some saffron crocus corms.

Pickling cucumbers from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Pickling cucumbers from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Here is another earliest ever arrival: pickling cucumbers from Alvarez Organic Farms. This year is just plain dizzying, I tell you. And they also have lots of onionsgarlic and summer squash, the latter in more than a dozen varieties now!

Live oysters from Hama Hama Oyster Company. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Live oysters from Hama Hama Oyster Company. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And more seafood! How about some live oysters from the Hama Hama Oyster Company? These are great for grilling or shucking, and if you grill them, Hama Hama has some amazing chipotle butter to put on them. They also have plenty of shucked oysters for frying and shooters, as well as pickled and smoked oysterslive clams and mussels and more!

Red romaine lettuce from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Red romaine lettuce from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And I know that finishing off this week’s Seafood Fest epistle with lettuce might seem a bit out of sorts, but hey, this is red romaine lettuce from Colinwood Farms. These heads of lettuce are big enough that the Vikings could have used the leaves to cross the Atlantic! This crisp, sweet lettuce is great for salads, lettuce wraps, and it is even good for grilling! (Cuz you Vikings need your roughage, but you sure aren’t gonna be caught dead eating a salad.)

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.

Please remember bring your own bags 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.

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.