Friday, June 15, 2012

The Jersey City Farmers' Market Exploration, #2, Grove Street

Cafe' tables and wine, anyone?
Open Mon and Thurs 4-8 pm

This market is set up on a small plaza at the centrally located Grove Street Path station in the historic downtown section of Jersey City. The city has provided the vendors with nice shady decorated canopies which lends an organized air amid the busy and crowded commuter atmosphere. With the paved space bordered by new and old buildings, the variety of stands and customers, and the planters, lampposts and bicycles, the Grove St market almost has an Italian piazza vibe - missing are the outdoor cafe' tables.  I think there should be a special “market transfer” pass for the public on the bus and PATH trains. Wouldn't it be great
if a commuter could stop at this Farmer’s Market, shop and then continue on home without being charged the extra $2? 

Sara's is handcrafted in Jersey City
Inter- Modal Node
 I counted more than 20 vendors,Made with Love organic bakery, Sara's Saucy Salsa,  Stella’s Argentina empanadas, lemonade stand, funnel cakes, pickles/olives, specialty dog biscuits, barbeque, and ready made meals to go.  
Stony Hill Farm Market of Chester NJ and Ort Farms of Long Valley NJ are definitely the big draw. Both have big tents filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, honey, and baked goods. They participate in the state's successful Jersey Fresh program,marketing produce grown in New Jersey.
Also in Edison on Sunday mornings
 In answering my question about the suspiciously summery veggies of tomato, cucumber and squash, Stony Hill's manager told me that the tomatoes are grown in their onsite greenhouses, the cucumbers and squash are brought up from a friend's farm in South Jersey where the season is a couple weeks ahead. In fact Stony Hill Farm cultivates 500 acres including some grain and hay in addition to these gorgeously colored cauliflower.  
Imagine a jar of mixed cauliflower pickle

The strawberry season has been prolific for them and I bought 4 quarts of just ripened berries which are destined for a simple strawberry jam. If this batch turns out excellent, it's destined for the county fair. It is made over two days, and is much better for it.

Plain and Simple Strawberry Jam
4 pounds fresh local strawberries, 2- 3/4 pounds sugar, 4 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1 pouch of liquid pectin. Shop for the berries and the same day, wash them well, remove the green caps, and gently crush them to release some juice. Add the sugar and the lemon juice to the crush and stir very well. Cover and place in the refrigerator. The next day, gather the jars, lids, utensils and water bath canner, and the pectin; get them ready. Now, Important: divide the strawberry mixture into two equal parts so you can cook them in two small batches-use a scale or measuring cups to make accurate division.  Taste the mixture for a balance of sweet and tart. Put one half in a stock pot and increase the heat to bring it to a rapid boil. Let it boil, foaming, stirring every minute, for about 10 minutes, and you will notice that the mixture is slightly darker in color and the juice is becoming syrupy. Reduce the heat to low, and skim off the foam. Add One-Half packet of liquid pectin stirring to dissolve well. Raise the heat again and boil the jam for one minute longer. Turn off the heat and continue stirring and scraping the bottom for 3 or 4 minutes until the steam released diminishes noticeably. The jam should have a shiny red color and a texture. Test for jell. Fill the jars, wipe the rims, adjust the lids. Repeat with the half set aside- it does take more time, but your jam will be sure to set. Process ten minutes in a water bath canner for 8oz jars.

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