Sunday, August 12th: Yes, We Can! And Pickle! And Freeze! And Dry!

Yes, we can! Food, that is. That's right. It is time for us to get in touch with our inner squirrel and put up summer deliciousness to be enjoyed in the cold, dark wet months that will be here sooner than we want to believe. It is simple to enjoy the tastes of summer all year round with just a little effort. Can it. Pickle it. Freeze it. Dry it. Make a family activity out of it. Make enough to give it as gifts come the holiday season. And save money! Think about it. You pay $2 for a bag of frozen organic corn at the Big Box store, right? Well, for $2, you can get three ears of organic corn at your Ballard Farmers Market, cut it off the cob as soon as you get home today, and fill two pint freezer bags to put in your freezer for winter. That's two bags for what you'd pay for one later. And it'll be better tasting, support local farmers, and you'll know exactly where it came from.

Wanna make pickles? Get some of these great organic pickling cucumbers from Alm Hill Gardens. And you'll find pickling dill and lots of garlic throughout the Market, too, for your pickling needs. Then, all you need is salt, vinegar and spices, and you've got garlic dill pickles to bring to parties in December!

Want to enjoy local tomato goodness come winter? Then can or freeze some of these roma tomatoes from Alvarez Organic Farms now. Frankly, you can can, sauce and freeze many kinds of tomatoes, but romas have that thick flesh and deep, rich flavor when cooked, and they are easy to prep, with minimal seeds. Add some garlicbasil or cilantro and some salt, and you've got sauce ready to go!

English shelling peas from Stoney Plains Organic Farm are sweet and crunchy now, and they are ridiculously easy to freeze, so you can enjoy them all winter long. Buy a big bag of them, and then put on your favorite music or TV show, get out a big bowl, and shuck the peas into that bowl until you've exhausted the entire bag. Then, pack the loose peas into pint freezer bags, as they are closest in size to what you'll find in the Big Box store freezer isle, which is a very convenient size. You do not need to blanch peas first. And I recommend that you pack the pint bags inside a larger gallon freezer bag just to give them extra protection, and so you don't have dozens of little bags sliding around in your freezer. Then, in January, when you need to add peas to soup, fried rice or a pasta dish, just pull a pint bag out and pour them in. They'll cook fast, and it is easy to reseal the zipper lock freezer bag if you don't use them all.

These are Early Italian Prunes from Lyall Farms. Not plums. Prunes. Yes, there is a difference, regardless of what some PR spin doctors in California would like you to believe. For my money, this is the king of all stone fruits — deeply sweet with a toothsome flesh, great for sauces, drying, ice cream, or just eating right off of the stone. For drying, just cut them in half right off the stone and place them in your dehydrator, skin side down. Easy peasy. Once dried, they will keep in your cabinet for months!

You'll need garlic. Lots of garlic. Like this garlic from Summer Run Farm. Garlic for your tomatoes. Garlic for your pickles. Heck, pickle some garlic! And, of course, it stores well itself. Ask your farmer which varieties keep longest and which should be used sooner. There are many varieties of garlic, too, and their strengths and flavor profiles vary, so find one the fits your purposes and your palate.

These are wild elderberries harvested by Foraged & Found Edibles. Sure, you can make jam out of them. But how's about making homemade elderberry wine with them? That'll be lovely at Thanksgiving dinner, don't you think? And you can justify this effort knowing that elderberries are a superfood, with more beneficial flavonoids than most other berries.

And basil. Like this basil from Pa Garden. You'll not only need basil for those canned tomatoes, but did you know that you can make fresh basil pesto, put it into an ice cube tray and into the freezer, and when it's frozen, you can pop the cubes into a freezer bag for later use. Then, when you want to add some pesto to your pasta or any other dish, just pull out the appropriate number of cubes, and you're ready for action with fresh pesto in February!

Let's finish off today's epistle with blueberries from Jessie's Berries. A superfood in their own right, they are also absurdly easy to freeze. Buy a flat of them, bring them home, and give them a rinse in your colander. Line a glass baking dish or metal cookie sheet with some paper towels. Pour your rinsed berries onto the paper towels and roll them around to get most of the water off of them. Then, remove the paper towels and put the baking dish in the freezer with the berries one layer deep. They'll be frozen enough in one hour to be poured into a gallon freezer bag for storage. Repeat this process until all berries are washed and frozen, or when you run out of space in your freezer bag. Now, you got delicious, local blueberries to enjoy all winter long in your oatmeal, muffins, pies, sauces, whatever. They should stay loose, so it'll be easy to take out as few or as many as you need!

Finally, another reminder to please bring your own bags today, and every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.