“No really, I’m just going to stop for a second…”. 45 minutes past and 5 pounds of fresh blueberries later… “Having a pick your own (PYO) blueberry farm on my commute home from work may be becoming a problem…”. Over the past month I’ve probably picked around 15 pounds of blueberries from Emery Farm in Durham, NH. $2.50 per pound of berries sure beats $5.99 store bought sub-par berries especially when you factor in the additional pound of “I just need to see if it’s ready” berries that you sampled along the way (I swear I only tried a couple…). Three (cough… six) trips to the farm has made me realize how calming picking berries can be. I have a tendency to get distracted pretty easily… look… shiny… so zoning out while hunting for the perfect berry is probably good for me from time to time. Although the blueberry season here in New Hampshire is unfortunately coming to an end, the wild raspberries and blackberries are just starting to pop off! Late last month I put up several jars of blueberry sage jam, and as I was running out of pumpkin butter from last fall, I decided to fill the void with this crockpot mint blueberry butter. This recipe is super easy to modify in that you could simply swap out or omit the mint for any other herb/spice. I opted for a low sugar option (4 cups of sugar vs. 7 cups) as I wasn’t trying to mask the amazing flavor of all my tediously (OCD a little?) picked berries. The consistency of the final product is thick, smooth, and nicely spreadable. My plan is to use it my overnight oats. Yum!
I’m actually off to Emery Farm in just a few minutes NO not for more blueberries, but for this month’s Seacoast Food Swap!
Has anyone else ever wondered why the US relish market is dominated by sweet cucumber relish?! Ever googled relish recipes only to find that every search result comes back with the word sweet in the title!? For the love of pickles, why must we insist on adulterating the perfect flavor of fresh cucumbers with sugar? I understand that the sweet and tangy flavor of the classic relish tastes great atop a hot dog or hamburger patty, but seriously… move over Heinz, Vlasic, and Claussen, make way for dill pickle relish! OK, enough of my sweet pickle ranting. If my disdain for sweet pickles isn’t obvious by now, you clearly don’t know me at all and we apparently need to work on our communication skills…
If you haven’t yet noticed, it’s cucumber season: that lovely time of year when farmers and gardeners alike harvest cucumbers of all shapes and sizes (often the size of small babies). Still in need of something to swap at the August Seacoast Food Swap, I figured that I’d switch up my pickle game and try making a dill pickle relish. Modified from Solid Gold Eats‘ dill cucumber relish recipe, I’m quite pleased with the outcome (12 half pints… oh man) of this relish.
If you read my bean post earlier this week you know that I attempt to never put up the same exact pickled thing twice. Several weeks ago, I was asked by a local journalist if I would be willing to do a pickling photo shoot/interview supplying my favorite canning recipe. Fresh out of the last jar of my pickled beets and wanting to showcase a recipe that I was confident with, I considered playing it safe and just reusing my Kickin’ Pickled Beet recipe. Oh! Their flavor, their crunch, and their pickle goodness… I went back and forth on whether to breakdown and remake one of my own recipes, but I’m glad to say that I remained strong and resisted that urge… My name is Erin and I am a pickle addict… As an alternative, I decided on this beet, carrot, and apple slaw recipe, which I’m actually very excited about (though my want for a spicy pickled beet is currently 10). In addition to the 2 pounds of beets that I already had from Wake Robin Farm, I acquired several more pounds of this ruby root veggie from Jeff of Orange Circle Farm at last months’ Seacoast Food Swap. I ended up going with organic pink lady apples for this slaw recipe as I was interested in a sweeter end product.
Hello August! Mid-summer crops (or what I’ve always considered mid-summer crops elsewhere) have finally arrived here in the North East United States. The local farmers’ markets are effectively overflowing with fruits, veggies, colors, and smiles. Since the beginning of the summer farmers’ market season here in Portsmouth, I’ve found myself so focused on finding new canning ingredients that I rarely buy any produce for my own meal and personal consumption. “I’ll take three pounds of eggplant (for pickles), four pounds of cucumbers (for pickles), and two pounds of onions (for pickles)… awesome!”… only to realize mid-week that I have nothing to cook for dinner and having to make a trip to the local grocery store for sub-par produce (dumb). This past Saturday, following my routine pickling stroll (canvas bag already packed full of ingredients), I decided to do another a lap around the market wherein I would only buy produce for this weeks’ dinners: carrots, corn, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc. Not a bad market haul if you ask me, now if only I can keep my veggie priorities straight. What type of market items did you bring home this week?
I personally could die a happy pickle eater… cough… pickler if the world consisted of only pickled carrots, beets, cauliflower, and string beans. With perhaps the exception of straight up dill pickles, for the sake of variety, it’s pretty rare that I put up the same thing twice. The problem is that there’s only so many ways you can swing a string bean. I came across these beautiful yellow wax beans at the Wake Robin Farm booth last weekend and immediately started flipping through my mental pickle recipe rolodex… basil beans (done it), curry beans (done it), dilly beans (done it), old bay beans (done it)…. and then I remembered these tarragon beans from Linda Ziedrich’s book The Joy of Pickling. Aside from adding tarragon, I more or less winged it with this wax bean recipe. Enjoy these tarragon pickles aside seafood, fruits, poultry, or eggs. I’d love to hear about other varieties of pickled beans that you’ve put up.
It seems as if the majority of my latest canning posts have had some sort of adventure/exploit attached to them. Most likely attributed to the season, or perhaps because I have acquired tons of new friends who also enjoy farmers’ markets, pick your own harvests, and tipsy late night jar’scapades, I have recently been reminded of how much I really enjoy the process of this hobby. Earlier this month a science lady friend and I were on our way out to the Great Bay Estuary to grab some mid morning water samples when I spotted a sign that read “PICK YOUR OWN BLUEBERRIES”! “Blueberries!… (looking at my watch, knowing that we were already behind time)… we totally have time, right?!” “Um… right?… yes… let’s do it!” Purple fingers, full stomaches, and satisfied taste buds we justified our spontaneous blueberry detour to Emery Farm and continued on with our science lives. Located in Durham, NH, Emery Farm is one of the oldest farms in the country… we provide our customers with our own fresh fruits and vegetables… dedicated to maintaining a down-home, family farm atmosphere… Upon further discovery, I learned that the farm is the oldest working farm in the Northeast. Of equally exciting news, the farm has volunteered its space for the August Seacoast Food Swap.
While picking and jar’storming (I’m on a role with these word combos tonight…), I consulted my flavor muse who suggested a myriad of different blueberry herb pairings. The result: this beautiful blueberry sage jam. I’d be lying if I said “I didn’t eat all two pounds of these berries that afternoon” requiring me to return the next day for additional recipe ingredients… hard life. Stay tuned for a couple more blueberry creations as you can bet that I’ve returned for more pickings since that said morning.
“Hey Erin! Can I ask you a question?.. How do YOU make cucumber pickles?”… My answer: “I don’t”.
Like most newbie picklers, my emergence into the world of pickling started with the classic dill pickle. Overly enthusiastic about my new found hobby (I think I actually may have considered dropping out of graduate school to start a pickling company called ‘Dilly Beans’), I tried loads of different cucumber pickle varieties: zesty pickles, Old Bay pickles, dilly mustard pickles, you name it. Soggy and not quite right pint of cucumber pickles after pint (not to add steam burn after steam burn), I grew tired and a little discouraged by the whole homemade dill pickle idea/fad. Meanwhile, I was having great success putting up other veggie pickles. One night after a pickle back/tini… or four, I began thinking… why try to achieve dill pickle greatness (the crunch, the brine, the zest, etc.) when it’s already been done? I’m probably never going to hear the end of this and will be shamed in the pickle world forever, but here it goes… I Erin A. Urquhart LOVE store bought, chemical laden, food color additive dill pickles! Whew, it feels good to get that off my chest…
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