What I’m up to…

Hi Folks! With the closing of the Underground Market and some life changes (I’ve recently started a new job that is fantastic, but all-consuming), I’ve decided to put Urban Preserves on hiatus for the near future. I still have some product for sale (feel free to email me at urbanpreserves@gmail.com to find out what I have available and arrange to pick up an order).

In the meantime, I’ve been devoting much of my time to food blogging instead. You can follow me at Kitchen-solo.com to get cool recipes that are scaled for one or two-person households, but don’t sacrifice the best ingredients and techniques for the sake of convenience. Basically, I share ideas for making things from scratch, cooking inspired meals, and doing it in a way that is sustainable for a solo cook. I hope you enjoy!

Strawberries are back with a Vengeance!

Spring Strawberries! Yum!
Last Friday, I ran over to the Old Oakland Farmer’s market during my lunch hour. I work near Jack London Square, so it’s a quick trip. I was shocked by the amount of farmers selling beautiful, ripe strawberries! Somehow, I had though of strawberries as more of a summer fruit, but I took one bite and bought a whole flat. These were juicy, sweet-tart, and huge! They are the type of strawberries that are red to the core, and really taste perfect on their own.

So what to do with all these Strawberries? Make jam, of course! I’m getting ready to sell at the Underground Market on Saturday in San Francisco, so I’ve been working like mad to make sure I have enough of the old favorites (Dilly Beans, Jardiniere Pickles, Pear, Honey and Lemon Verbena Jam), as well as bring some new flavors to the table. I decided to experiment with two types of Strawberry Jam. I’ve always loved rhubarb, so that was a no brainer.

Fresh Rhubarb stalks for jam
I picked up some rhubarb, did some online research to confirm methodology (this was my first attempt at preserving rhubarb), and then got started. First, I cut the rhubarb stalks into a dice and cooked them with a little bit of water until they softened. They are very firm, and take a lot longer to break down than the strawberries.

Rhubarb ready to cook down
Then I added the chopped strawberries and cooked until they softened. All I added was organic sugar to taste, lemon zest, and some Pomona’s pectin to ensure it gelled. Because I use no-sugar pectin, my jams have much less sugar than usual. If you use fresh, ripe, organic, local produce, there isn’t much else you need to do. The rhubarb adds a lovely tartness to the strawberries. Come taste at the market on Saturday!

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

The other half of the strawberries went into making another first attempt, Strawberry-Basil jam. I missed documenting the process, but it’s really easy–I just made a standard Strawberry jam, but added a chiffonade (that’s rolled basil leaves chopped, to make long strings) of basil at the end. It add a lovely note of basil to the jam…again, you’ll have to come by and taste at the Underground Market on Saturday…see you there!

Strawberry

Springtime Farmer’s Market Shopping

Tulips at Temescal Farmer's Market
There is such an amazing rush when you walk through a farmer’s market and realize it’s really spring. That’s what happened when I walked by these tulips at the Temescal Market in Oakland last Sunday. It’s also a great time to buy produce for preserving!

Raw Materials for Jardiniere Pickles
I am constantly inspired by the produce I run into at the markets. I wanted to share a few pics from last weekend’s trips to the Saturday Grand Lake Farmer’s Market and the Sunday Temescal market, both in Oakland.

Raw Materials for Jardiniere Pickles
Asparagus for my Jardeniere Pickles

Raw Materials for Jardiniere Pickles
Beets go in too!

Raw Materials for Jardiniere Pickles
And don’t forget the carrots!

I source most of my produce for jams and pickles from these markets throughout the year. As for other sources, I always love to pick from local trees when I can get access, like the older woman in my neighborhood who has 3 lovely greengage plum trees, or my next-door neighbor who is always willing to share her bounty of Meyer lemons. For the occasional hard to find item, plus other staples like vinegar, salt, and organic evaporated cane juice, Berkeley Bowl (either one) is my go-to spot.

Where do you love to shop in the Bay Area?

Blog Round 2!

Thanks to those of you who have been stopping by due to picking up my card at a few recent events! As you can see, I’ve been lax at keeping my blog up to date. I’m hoping to post a few updates over the next days, as well as share about my other adventures in cooking and canning!

Recently, I have been busy with participating in the East Bay Homemade Food Swap, Underground Market, and Homegrown Marin

Also, I wont be selling via my blog for the moment, in advance of an exciting announcement about opportunities to buy online! Feel free to email me directly if you have any ordering needs at the moment.

Underground Market in SF Tomorrow!

Hi Urban Preserves Fans! I’ll be back at the SF Underground market at SOMArts in SoMa (934 Brannan Street, SF 94103) for the daytime session, from 11am to 4pm. Lots of new flavors, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of you there! If you fill out a pre-order on the site by midnight tonight, I can hold any items for you. The order form to the right is up to date with current inventory.

Keeping up with Urban Preserves

I’ve been madly working to get this blog and other news sources up and running this week. So here we go! In addition to subscribing to the blog via rss feed or reader, you can follow me on twitter and become a fan on Facebook!

Follow @UrbanPreserve on Twitter
Become a fan on Facebook

I’ll be using all of these sources to share information about future events, announce new flavors (or the return of old favorites), and get to know all of you better!

Thanks again for all of your support and encouragement!

Becky

The Underground Market

Wow! What a week it’s been! Last Thursday, I had the privilege of being a vendor at the second ever Underground Farmer’s Market, put on by Forage SF. After starting this little business last year, I had never imagined being able to sell at a market like this. I had checked with my local farmer’s market and even a few craft fairs, and was told that I couldn’t sell my homemade items at events like that. When Iso mentioned the idea of the market last fall, I was thrilled and starting preparing!

For my first market, I had no idea what to expect. First, I was amazed at the number of people who came through the market–easily 500. I so appreciated the chance to get feedback in person from of all of the people I met who tasted my jams and pickles. Your reactions when sampling all of the different flavors were the best part, and it felt great that you all liked my offerings enough to invest your money! I also loved chatting with all of the other vendors, as their own passion for homemade foods was readily evident.

I’m now working on developing some new flavors for the next market. I heard from spicy jam-lovers and advocates of agave instead of sugar, so look for both of those at the next market! I’ll also be replenishing my supply of favorites that sold out, including the plum balsamic rosemary.

Please comment below if you have any suggestions! Thanks again for your support, and I look forward to seeing many of you at the next market.

Check out some media hits:
KQED’s This Week in Northern California
NBC Interview with Iso and market profile
KQED’s Bay Area Bites Blog