So early yesterday morning Number 1 Son made a run to the St. Paul Farmers Market. We talked about going to one of the markets closer to home, but we have had such good luck with produce and prices at the Market in St. Paul that he decided to stick with that one. He wasn't disappointed.
The quest was for strawberries. He bought three flats that all together contained six gallons of berries. The price was about what I would have paid at the grocery, but the quality was excellent. Many times the store berries are large and pretty, but don't have much taste. The Market berries were smaller but absolutely bursting with flavor. Plus they were grown without the use of chemicals.
Took us until the middle of the afternoon to clean the strawberries, after which I made two batches of strawberry jam. That gave me 16 half pint jars of jam with a bit left over that I will run through later this morning when I make one more batch.
Son also found a vendor who was selling rhubarb, so he bought four bundles. I cleaned them and cut them into about half-inch pieces, so when I am finished with the strawberry jam, the plan is to make a couple batches of strawberry-rhubarb jam. The rest of the rhubarb will be combined with berries for a strawberry-rhubarb sauce that makes a great dessert sauce or is wonderful over ice cream or cake.
Son took a friend with him to the Market. She bought two large bundles of cilantro and I am dehydrating it for her. She does her own canning but doesn't have a dehydrator, and I am happy to help out. While son and I were cleaning the berries he asked me if I would use herbs like the cilantro. He said there were herb vendors there with really nice bundles of herbs for cheap. I told him that it seemed like so many think if they store rice and beans, that's enough. But if that's what you are living on, it would get pretty boring in a hurry without herbs and spices to cook with. So when he goes to the Market next weekend, he will see if he can get me a variety of fresh herbs to dry.
The vendor that we have bought honey from in the past is there again this year, so Son brought home two quarts of honey. It is so good - nothing like the store bought stuff that is mostly honey flavored corn syrup. This is the real deal. I was getting low on honey, and because it will keep forever, I want to stock up on it. I think we will get a quart or two each time Son goes to the market, and by the end of summer I should have a nice stash of the stuff.
It is going on 1 AM, July 5th. Sounds like the local celebrants have run out of fireworks to set off in the middle of the street outside my windows. I can't get too upset. It is only once a year and they are having fun! But it is time to sleep for a while and then get an early start on the jam marathon while my kitchen is still cool.
And if you put some vanilla ice cream, a bit of milk and a handful of fresh strawberries into a blender, whirl the mixture around for a bit, you get the best tasting strawberry shake ever. I might have to save out enough berries to do that again. :)
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