BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘canning

The Best of Corvallis: Our Neighbor’s Cherry Stand

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An umbrella to shade the heat-swollen cherries.

Here in the stone fruit-and-berry rich Pacific Northwest, kids sell cherries freshly picked from their backyard trees in lieu of having a lemonade stand. At least on our street in Corvallis, they do. These are not the crappy, under-ripe and non-organic Hood River ones sold along the highway on the Oregon Coast last week. These are ripe, beautiful, juicy, seemingly chemical-free Bings.

The organic Raniers grown under high tunnels on the OSU research farm.

Apparently, and  based on the neighbor’s harvest, Oregon is having a bountiful, if delayed, cherry season this summer. Often, the constant spring rains will force many blossoms to drop before pollination. They seemed to fare better this year. Giant organic Ranier cherries especially flourish, when protected and heated up by high tunnels, on an OSU research farm here.

How I will miss these cherries, and the raspberries and blueberries and especially the Tayberries, upon our relocation back East. So I’m savoring them now. A $20 bill got me 10 pints from the neighbor’s stand. Then Dan decided to surprise us with a box on his bike ride home, so we had 11 in total. Several have already disappeared. Theo loves cherries and, fortunately without incident, appears to have swallowed his first cherry stone. Maybe he’ll have a sister, Cherry Stone, someday:)

No, you can’t take them with you. Please don’t accuse us of hoarding cherries. Freezing them won’t do this year. I’m also liberated from canning.

Now it’s time to make clafouti, or brandied cherries, or the bing cherry-rhubarb brown betty I discovered our first summer here. That was the first year I bought the neighbor’s crop. Apparently, the young boys have doubled their asking price since four years ago. That seems fair.

It’s a self-serve stand operating under the honor system.

There’s something hopeful, and of course entrepreneurial, about young boys holding a cherry (or even lemonade) stand. These boys work for their allowance. Their mother also has them play their fiddles for change sometimes at the farmer’s market. So mothers begin to instruct their sons to make a buck the honest way.

Written by baltimoregon

July 7, 2012 at 12:18 am

Trashed Strawberries Are Our Treasure

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Salvaged berries from the Boones Ferry Berry Farm discards at the end of the Corvallis Farmers' Market Saturday.

From the mouths of babes: Little George digs into the ones at the GTF stand.

I’m not shy. I have no trouble engaging complete strangers in conversation. Maybe that’s why I interview people and entertain in the front of the classroom for a living.

But still I felt awkward going from stand to stand at the farmers’ market Saturday, asking for donations for the cooking and canning classes EMO’s Interfaith Food and Farms program runs to help folks stretch their tight  budgets and learn to make delicious meals with food bank staples.

Then I happened to ask Boones Ferry Berry Farm (near Woodburn) if they had any mushed or overripe berries we could have to cook up into jam. They gave me their “trash” bag, chock fill of syrupy, slightly squishy berries that smelled and looked delish, though were perhaps not quite pretty enough for discriminating consumers. But no one would know the difference when they cooked down into jam.

Fellow master food preservers (and dear friend) Rebecka now heads this cooking class, working closely with Jamming for the Hungry’s Sara Power (who was also in our Master Food Preserver Program). Chef Intaba previously ran these classes when I first moved to Corvallis. These are my girls! That’s where I met Norma, my good friend from Texcoco, Mex., and the mother of three adorable children: Jerry, Michele and baby Dennis.

Sara demonstrates her jam recipe.

Jerry patiently waits to make jam.

We  made low-sugar strawberry  jam (and took jars home), strawberry smoothies with yogurt and silken tofu (a food bank staple that often befuddles folks) and a fresh strawberry vinegar for a vinaigrette I helped demonstrate. See the recipe below. I also mixed the vinegar with seltzer for a bracingly tart drink that might be good with simple syrup. Like those Asian drinking vinegars popular at Pok-Pok or old-fashioned shrub drinks. But buyer beware (of stomach ulcers apparently) with the “vinegar cure.”

Also, if your jam is starting to foam if you cook it, we learned that adding a pat of butter helps, and may keep the jam from turning gray. I still might go strawberry picking next weekend, perhaps at nearby Greengable Flower Farm, where they are $1 a pound.

Strawberry Vinegar
Yield: Makes About 2 cups
Active Time 15 minutes
Total time: 1 1/4 hours

1 pound strawberries, trimmed (3 cups)
2 cups white balsamic vinegar (or apple cider, rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar…anything but dark balsamic or plain distilled white vinegar)

Pulse berries in a food processor until finely chopped and very juicy. Transfer to a bowl and add vinegar. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a jar, discarding solids (don’t strain if you prefer a thicker, pulpy dressing). Keeps in the fridge covered and chilled for a week.

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
Fresh strawberry vinegar.Strawberry Vinaigrette for Mixed Greens Salad
1 cup olive oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup strawberry vinegar (see recipe above)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup minced onion or shallot
A drizzle of honey to sweeten it up
salt and pepper to taste

Blend ingredients together in a blender, or just shake in a covered jar or beat until mixed and smooth.

Yield: About 1 3/4 cups

*Note: Traditional vinaigrettes have a ratio of 3 parts oil (or other fat, such as warm bacon fat) to one parts vinegar (or other acid, such as citrus juice)

Written by baltimoregon

June 21, 2010 at 1:24 am

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