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!
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.
Asparagus for my Jardeniere Pickles
Beets go in too!
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?
I’ve typically been enamored of rich, fruit-filled jams, held barely together by unctuous juice… However, I’ve recently been inspired by two sources to enter into the world of clear, pure jelly, and test my skills in that arena.
First, a couple of weeks ago, my sister, Christy, and lovely 15-month-old niece, Evie, came to visit. We spent a day in Napa, with visits courtesy of our dear friend Martin, of the Saint Helena Wine Center. He arranged a visit and private tour at Chase Family Vineyards, where we spent a couple of hours wandering around, tasting some fantastic zinfandel and cabs, and eating our picnic lunch. BTW–tested out a new recipe for plum balsamic rosemary jam, and will definitely make again–fantastic with triple cream brie and baguette!
After spending time with our tasting guide, I learned that they had finished the harvest for the year, and the remaining grapes were destined to rot on the vines. Saddened by that prospect, I asked for permission to harvest a bit for jam. She agreed, and I ended up with a large bag of grapes (and Evie ate her fill, too!). I washed, sorted and de-stemmed, but had to freeze the grapes for a better jam-making moment. It seems like that will be this weekend!
Second, I was talking with a co-worker this week who reminisced about mint jelly a neighbor used to make when she was growing up. The only mint jelly available in the stores these days is the artificially green kind that is destined for dry legs of lamb. I was inspired to try and re-create the subtle mint jelly that she remembered…after a visit to the Farmer’s Market today, I’m all set with mint and ready to give it a try!
I’ve been inspired to take advantage of the backyard fruit that is available all over the Bay Area, and my first adventure was picking up apples and pears from a woman named Michelle, who grew them in her South San Francisco backyard (it’s amazing what one can find on Craigslist). I have no idea how many pounds there were, but I took home three large grocery bags full of lovely little fruit. Can’t wait to start experimenting with recipes for these babies!
Please let me know if you have any fruit that needs harvesting on your trees. I’m happy to pick it and share some jam as a thank-you!