Emptying the Fridge
Last week, we came back from the Market with bags and bags of wonderful stuff. Our 6-foot-long kitchen table was obscured by peaches, blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, a huge cantaloupe, green beans, pickling cucumbers, carrots, salumi, bread, and more.
To make room for all that stuff, we had to clean out the fridge a bit. The first item we pulled out was a perfectly fine quarter section of watermelon. Pitch it? No way! We threw the cut-up melon into a blender along with lime juice, sugar (or simple syrup) and water to make Agua Fresca (aka "fresh water"), a bright and light drink that hails from Mexico.
Toss the leftover rind? Never! Pickle it. We usually go for this traditional recipe with ingredients that are strikingly (read: exactly) like the recipe we pulled last week from our 20-year-old Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. We plan on trying this simpler version from the Ball website and this divine sounding crystalized-ginger-spiked watermelon pickle from Alton Brown. Martha weighs in with this version as well. Using up the rinds instead of throwing them out appeals to our frugal side. Thrifty never tasted so tasty!
Save It for Later
While we're buried in produce, consider expending a little effort now, at the height of the FM season, and reaping the benefits down the road.
- Can you boil water? Then you can can your way through the best produce of the year. (See what we did there?) The easiest is tomatoes, which can be prepped and then put into sterilized glass jars, capped with two-part lids, and boiled in a big pot of water to kill off any nasty bacteria. Cut up and preserve fresh tomatoes using this recipe or follow these instructions to can tomato sauce. Another appealing project is canning peaches (peel the skin off) or nectarines (don't peel) with honey from Fruitwood Farms. Be sure to invest in the right equipment and a supply of canning jars and explore our favorite guides like the Ball canning jar company site, Martha Stewart's summertime jam, jelly, preserve and pickles site, and Simply Canning. If physical cookbooks are your thing, pick up this 37th edition of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.
- If the thought of boiling a huge pot of water in the perpetually humid Delaware Valley summer puts you off the whole dang idea, you can also do refrigerator pickles, which require only heating the brine. It's a great way to use up extra little bits of cucumber, carrots, onions, and other delicious things and you can eat them after a few hours or let them go for up to three months in the fridge. If solo cukes are your thing, this dill pickle recipe is dead easy and really delicious.
- Last week we ran into a friend who was carrying 25 pounds (or so) of blueberries back to her car. What on earth was she going to do with all of them? Freeze them, of course! Full instructions are here for how to prep and store luscious fruits and veggies to keep their optimal taste, nutrition, and texture.
- Another friend said she's been whipping up some adult beverages. Although local plums probably won't be available much this season -- the mid-spring freeze nipped many of those trees in the bud...literally -- stone fruits like peaches and nectarines can be made into bachelor jam. (Priorities, really!) Now's also the time to start a crock of rumtopf, which gives three months for stone fruits, berries, and apples (which may appear at the Market this week!) to marinate before being broken out during the winter holiday season as a topping for ice cream, pound cake, and other desserts.
We apologize for mistakenly reporting last week that there would be a break in the strawberry sales sometime soon. Turns out, we were mistaken! Strawberries will be here through early October, according to Frecon Farms. We stand corrected and are positively thrilled that we were wrong.
Some of our vendors are so excited about their offerings that they have let us know in advance what they'll be bringing. For example, John Wilson of Wilsons Curiously Good Foods plans on bringing the following goodies to the market this week: American chop suey, gazpacho, chicken salad, bourbon BBQ pulled chicken, chocolate pots de creme, posset (aka lemon custard), IPA beer cheese, and happy hummus, plus all the other usual family members.
Plus, we are prime believers in the ask-and-ye-shall-receive technique and, sure enough, our inquiry to Green Zebra Farm two weeks ago led to the happy return of Mitch's canned heirloom tomato sauce. Pick some up to top your pasta or pizza.
Time is running out if your business or organization plans to apply for Community Day #2, happening August 27. The deadline is August 17 and spots are limited, so get a move on!
Lansdowne Arts on the Avenue Festival
We interrupt our regularly scheduled Market news to give everyone plenty of notice that the Lansdowne Arts on the Avenue Festival will be held outdoors this year, right on Lansdowne Avenue, on Sunday, September 11, from noon to 6:00 pm.
This event grew out of the Lansdowne Arts Festival, a perennial favorite arts and music event around these parts. This new and exciting outdoor arts festival is expected to draw more than 2,500 people to our historic downtown for an all-day festival of fine arts, crafts, music, food trucks, and a beer garden (yes, a beer garden in Lansdowne, thanks to the LEDC's special one-day permit and the good folks at Conshohocken Brewing Company), along with the YMCA's Kids' Zone.
Also, consider helping out with set up/takedown, as a table sitter, or as a mobile greeter. Just let Jeanne of the LEDC staff know your availability and in what capacity you would like to help.