Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jersey City Farmers' Market Exploration #3 - Van Vorst Park

The Farmers' Market at Van Vorst Park is like a little gem tucked inside a secret garden. The market is set up in the center of the square around the gazebo and you walk down shady paths bordered with roses and flowers to reach it. Besides the farmers, there are the knife sharpener, Stella's Argentine empanadas, three tables of baked goods, and Dakota Dog selling the cutest handcrafted toys for pets. It's friendly, small and simply charming.

I needed ingredients to make Mustard Pickles and found them at the stand displaying a wide variety of fresh greens, reds, whites and purples. Their prices for Kirby cucumbers and bell peppers and white onions were a bargain and they had lots of corn, tomatoes, eggplant and nice looking leafy vegetables. Just because there was the “Jersey Fresh” label on the jar, I bought some really good honey made by Trapper’s Honey LLC from Clarksburg.  

I was happy to see a farmer advertising cheese and eggs for sale, Ed Huff of Central Valley Farms of Asbury NJ. His third generation family farm began years ago as a dairy farm, selling milk. Then, uncertainties with processing and marketing the fluid milk led to a change in direction, to making fresh artisanal cheese.

 Central Valley Farm's cows are grazing in green pastures all spring and summer - only this milk is used for the cheeses. Their booth displays beauty shots of the cows and the hens, giving them their due. Today the table has a smaller selection of produce, but coming soon are 30+ varieties of heirloom tomatoes and peppers Central Valley Farm rotates to Union Square (NYC) and an uptown market, plus a CSA. 

Bon Appetit' magazine has tips on shopping at a Farmers' Market. It's worth the look.

This is the batch of pickles I’m taking to the Warren County Fair. It's a quick and easy recipe which will be submitted in the category “Any other pickle”. 
Chunky Mustard Pickles
Yield: Six Pints, One Halfpint, and a Quart of Extra Pickle Juice 
Ingredients: the pickle solution:
   5 cups white vinegar
   ¼ cup prepared yellow mustard
   3 ½ cups sugar
   1/3 cup salt
   2 TBS celery seed
   2 TBS mustard seed
   ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
   ½ teaspoon whole cloves
 The vegetables:
     5 lbs Kirby cucumbers
     3 large white onions
     2 large green peppers
     4 medium stalks celery

1. Scrub all vegetables thoroughly in running water. Seed (if seeds are large) and cut the cucumbers into chunks.
2. Dice the green peppers, onions and celery.
3. In a large stockpot combine the vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and spices.  Bring to a boil, stirring well to dissolve the sugar, salt and mustard.
4. Add the chopped vegetables to the pot, and heat until almost boiling, about ten minutes. Then reduce the heat to very low. Have clean hot pint jars ready.
5. Fill the pint jars with vegetables, and cover with vinegar solution to ½ inch of the rims. Using a canning funnel helps so much.
6. Wipe rims clean with a paper towel, adjust lids, and process in a water-bath canner, using a lower heat pasteurization method, of 30 minutes at 180-185 degrees.

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