Downtown Market column: Farmers markets make life easier
Summer to me means abundance. When I was a kid, we had to go directly to the local farmers to get fresh fruit and produce. Some farms would even let you pick your own, which saved us money. I distinctly remember picking itchy peaches. Canning was a big deal when I was growing up. Mom had an old gas stove that sat on the back patio, and we would can outdoors to get out of the hot kitchen. It was a regular canning factory with peaches, pears, pickles, tomatoes and even grape juice. And, oh, the jams and jellies that mom would crank out. Down in the root cellar, dad built wooden bins for mom to fill up with potatoes, onions and apples that would last us through the winter. I remember the shelves full of rainbow-colored canning jars, and I can still taste her pear jam. Our freezer was full of trout from our summer fishing trips, and Dad always bagged his deer in the fall.
Fast forward to today: How lucky we are to have such a great farmers market where the growers come to us to sell their goods, fresh and wholesome right from the field to your table. You can buy a few flats of peaches and go home and be canning the next day. No itchy picking needed on your part. I call that progress.
Have you ever thought of using honey instead of sugar in your canning? Melissa Maness, who has Colorado Mountain Honey for sale at our market, said there is a special pectin made for honey, and because honey is sweeter than sugar, you only need to use half for what the canning recipes call for. A light, mild-flavored honey works well for canning fruit. Also when you add honey, you are adding liquid content so you need to reduce the other liquid by ¼ cup for each cup of honey. Also, honey may darken your fruit a little more than sugar and give the canned fruit a different flavor. The obvious reason for using local honey is the health benefits over sugar. Melissa and Derrick have different flavors of honey depending where the hives are located. She will be happy to let you sample them.
New to our market is fresh roasted corn on the cob. Grab a fresh-roasted cob with butter and salt and pepper, and munch. Daisy Arvizu is serving the corn along with lots of garnishes like parmesan cheese, chili powder or fresh lime juice. She also has fresh mango juice and the popular horchata drink made from rice and cinnamon. It’s delightful on a hot summer afternoon.
The Garfield County Extension folk will be doing our cooking demo, and they are a bountiful source for information on canning. Bring your questions to get expert advice on the safe way to preserve all this wonderful fruit available to us. Your county extension office is a great resource that can be really helpful for your gardening concerns as well.
Josh Rogan will be playing his gritty Americana rock and roll music. Josh has produced three albums of his original music. He and his wife Eliza live in a 1962 Airstream with their dog Harley as they travel the roads playing at various gigs. Sounds like a wonderful way to live, right? Grab some dinner and come sit in the park and listen to some good music.
Our pie contest was a great success. The grand pie winner was Jacquie Meitler with her amazing Blueberry Lemon Meringue pie. We had some incredible entries and the judges were diligently tasting each pie. We thank everyone for your participation. There was a lot of happy pie faces.
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UPDATE: Both westbound lanes and one eastbound lane of Interstate 70, according to a 12:20 a.m. update from Garfield County.