What Does Eating In Season Mean?
Eating in season is a way of celebrating the food products, especially produce available in your area at that time of year. This also means waiting to eat foods until they are available to you locally, which maybe a challenge at first. Eating only the freshest, local products will provide the richest flavors and highest nutritional value. Today this can be hard with all the commercial food options available, but you will find food coming into season exciting. And you will be ready for the new products to come in their bounty.
Spring is the time of new growth with products that are leafy and tender.
Summer provides light and cooling foods.
Fall provides the end of the light foods and the beginning of the warming food with its bountiful harvest.
Winter is a time of warming and hearty foods that keep us sustained.
Why Should I Eat in Season?
Fresher foods have more flavor and provide a higher nutrient content. Seasonal foods also have what the body need at that time of year. For example, in the summer produce has a high water content and natural sugars to help with hydration; in the winter foods tend to be heartier and more warming. At any time of year, without having to be harvested early and transported a long distance (which degrades nutrients), local foods will have more vitamins and phytonutrients.
You are supporting your neighbors and the local economy by shopping from farmers, markets or locally sourced restaurants. You are promoting a healthier environment by reducing the carbon footprint of the food from the field to your fork. Lastly, you are also reducing the packaging of your food exponentially, creating less waste overall.
How Do I Eat In Season?
Shop at a farm stand nearby or the farmer’s market regularly to purchase what is coming in and out of season. See the market schedule at: http://seacoastharvest.org/market/ . Through direct sales from the farm, you are able to ask many questions about flavor profiles, flavor combinations and recipe ideas. There are also seasonal cookbooks that offer great suggestions on recipes, and how to prepare vegetables that may be new to you.
Signing up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) share is a great way to ensure you are able to try what is available each week (or bi-weekly). By paying up front, your farmer is able to plan for seeds, labor, equipment costs and more. If this is too much, try signing up for a CSA share with a friend or neighbor and learn the ropes together for the first year.
Preserving, pickling, canning and freezing are great ways to ensure your fresh and local products are available to you with a longer shelf life. There are many possibilities and canning makes for great gifts too!
Spring has finally sprung! And so will a few crops that we’ve been missing throughout this long, snowy winter. As May and June are approaching, lets look at a few crops that will be available fresh at the markets!
One delicious ingredient that is very popular during the spring is rhubarb! Rhubarb is a vegetable, although it is commonly misidentified as a fruit due to its popular use in pies, jams and sauces. Rhubarb’s crisp stalks taste sweet/tart and serve as the perfect refreshing snack to munch on as the days get warmer. The stalks can range in color from reddish pink to green and the difference is in the taste – the redder the stalk, the sweeter the taste. However, you must remember that the stalk is the only part of the plant that should be consumed. Rhubarb leaves must be avoided because they are poisonous and contain oxalic acid. This can be very damaging to the body if consumed in large quantity, eventually causing kidney failure.
Rhubarb isn’t just tasty, but it also provides many health benefits. It is notably high in fiber and also contains potassium, vitamin A, calcium and more. In fact, one cup of cooked rhubarb has an equal amount of calcium than a glass of milk (although it is less bioavailable than calcium from dairy products)! Rhubarb is a perennial crop that is very low maintenance as it rarely suffers from disease or pests. It is typically harvested between April and June; so don’t miss your chance to pick up some fresh rhubarb at the market.
Another perennial vegetable that is available this time of the year is fresh asparagus. Many are probably familiar with green asparagus and its mild, earthy taste. However, some may be unaware of the different varieties of asparagus: purple and white. The purple varieties tend to be sweeter in flavor and less fibrous, however are more susceptible to disease. White asparagus is grown using the process of etiolation. Etiolation is the deprivation of light, and the absence of light disables the stalks from producing chlorophyll. Without the production of the pigment chlorophyll, the asparagus will not be given its green color, resulting in white asparagus. White asparagus is described to be more tender and subtle in flavor than green varieties. Something that all varieties have in common is their nutritional content. Asparagus is very high in fiber, vitamin K and folate, so be sure to keep a look out for this nutritious vegetable in the upcoming months!
Lastly, towards the end of June we can expect to see the return of fresh strawberries! This popular member of the rose family is one of the first fruits to ripen in the spring. Strawberries can be confusing because despite their name, they are not a berry.
By definition, a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from
a single plant ovary. Strawberries, on the other hand, are made up of several ovaries that were separate in a single flower. This is called an aggregate fruit, and another fruit that shares this characteristic are raspberries. Although they are not berries, strawberries are still exceptionally high in vitamin C and contain powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients. They are enjoyed in many ways including raw, cooked in desserts, jams, sauces, and more! Pair some fresh strawberries from Sugar Momma’s Maple farm with fresh rhubarb from Two Farmers Farm and make a pie, muffins, jams or even compote. See the recipe below for some ideas!
Servings: makes about 3.5 cups
1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered lengthwise
1 pound rhubarb, stalks only, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and serve warm over vanilla ice cream, angel food cake or waffles.
Asparagus and Strawberry Salad with Balsamic and Basil
Makes 2 appetizer sized or 1 sizable salad.
5 large stalks asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup halved or quartered fresh strawberries
6 cups fresh greens (mesclun, baby spinach, romaine, mache — all of these will be just fine)
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tabelspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp agave or maple syrup
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions Bring a small pot of water to boil. Add the asparagus and blanch for 1-2 minutes till the stalks are still crunchy, but bright green and just tender enough to be palatable to you. Slice the basil into thin ribbons and, in a large bowl, combine the greens, asparagus, basil, and strawberries. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, syrup, and salt/pepper. Toss with the greens. Serve.
Written by Emily Whitmore, Seacoast Eat Local Intern
Greens are a group of vegetables that often go overlooked and aren’t given the credit they deserve. Greens can dress up any meal with their vibrant color, enticing flavor and vast amount of nutrients!
Whether it’s mustard greens, turnip greens, chard or kale, greens are a nutrient-dense food that contains many properties associated with a healthy diet. All greens are fat free, low in calories and high in fiber; so they aid in regulating the digestive system. Another beneficial property is that they have a low glycemic index. This means that greens control blood sugar and insulin more efficiently, which is important in the prevention of heart disease. Leafy greens not only aid in prevention of heart disease, but they also may be one of the best cancer-preventing foods because they contain many antioxidants. Aside from these benefits, here are a list of just a few vitamins and minerals that may also be found in greens:
One B vitamin in particular that is found in some greens (especially dark leafy greens) and cannot be forgotten is folate. Folate is important in the prevention of anemia and also promotes tissue growth and cell function. Getting sufficient folate into the diet is especially critical for women of childbearing age in order to prevent birth defects such as neural tube defects. Many foods are now fortified with folic acid (a manmade form of folate); however among the highest natural sources of folate include spinach and romaine lettuce, so eat up!
Greens are typically very perishable. When storing, they should be wrapped in a paper towel to pick up excess moisture and then refrigerated in a perforated plastic bag or container. Always remember to wash your greens before they are to be eaten or cooked. Simply running them under cold water or soaking them in a bowl of water to remove sand or dirt will do.
And lastly, the best part about greens is their versatility! The multitude of varieties allow for greens to be enjoyed in many different ways and added to almost any meal. Of course there are salad greens, such as spinach, romaine and arugula that always play the lead role in mixed salads. However, greens with tougher leaves such as collard greens, bok choy or kale can also be incorporated into soups, stir-fries or even baked into chips! Another way to enjoy greens is to add them to sandwiches or wraps (or used as the wrap itself), which will increase the meal’s overall nutritional content, flavor and texture. Steaming is also a great way to prepare greens because this method helps to retain valuable nutrients. Something to be aware of is how considerably greens cook down from their original volume. For example, 1 pound of raw kale results in about 2.5 cups of cooked kale. Be sure to keep this in mind especially when making large recipes.
Other ways to incorporate greens into your daily diet:
-Throw a cup of greens into your morning smoothie
-Add spinach or kale to quesadillas or burritos
-Use steamed collard greens or swiss chard as a wrap for chicken salad or other sandwich fillings
-Top your eggs or omelette with micro-greens
-Replace processed chips with kale chips
-Blend greens and freeze in ice cube trays, making it an easy addition to smoothies or soups when ever you need them. Blend greens with anything from green tea, coconut milk or chicken stock.
There is a plethora of greens available at the farmers’ market, including spinach, bok choy, cabbage, kale, chard and much more! Just some of the farms where you can find greens include White Cedar Farm, Riverside Farm, The HERB FARMacy and Heron Pond – Get to the last winter market this Saturday and stock up!
It’s Egg day at the last Seacoast Eat Local Farmer’s Market, this Saturday at the Exeter High School! The many farms that will be selling fresh eggs include: The Root Seller, Jesta Farm, Brandmoore Farm, Coppal House Farm, Hurd Farm, Mona Farm, John Holahan Farm, Brookford Farm, Patridge Farm, White Cedar Farm, Kellie Brook Farm, Riverslea Farm and Sugarmomma’s Maple Farm. Make sure to get there early for the best selection of colors and types before they are sold out!
Eggs are especially abundant in the spring time as the grass begins to grow, becoming green and packed with more nutrition. The birds also begin laying more regularly as the day light gets longer and they spend more time outside. Eggs have so much to offer as they are naturally packed with high quality protein and vitamins. Eggs are great for any diet, and can be especially helpful for weight management. Their high quality protein content allows for a steady and sustained energy without a spike (and crash) in blood sugar levels. Although they were once thought to be high in cholesterol, moderate consumption of an average of one egg (yolk) per day, or about 300 mg of cholesterol, does not increase heart disease risk and can be a part of a heart healthy diet. Like any food, eggs should be consumed in moderation, and a high increase in egg consumption can put you at a risk of heart disease.
In many ways it is better to buy local eggs compared to factory farm produced eggs that may or may not have labels touting “cage free” or “free-range”. In many cases these labels can be misleading and may not have legitimate certifying agencies checking the conditions of the birds. While local eggs may have a higher price tag, they are much higher quality due to their freshness, meaning they will last longer in your fridge. For farms that truly have free range birds, the eggs will have higher nutrient content from their mixed diet including seeds, bugs, and grasses. Studied have shown levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, D and E, and beta carotene content are increased in pasture raised birds as opposed to those raised on grain alone. There is also a higher level of antioxidants in fresh, pasture raised eggs while fat and cholesterol levels are decreased. Lastly, local pasture raised birds are able to protect the soil through pest and weed control as they eat the grasses and dig for beetles and grubs – they are a perfect example of a sustainable farming method that produces a higher quality product and returns nutrients and benefits back to the farm itself.
At the farmers’ market you will see a variety of eggs from many species of chickens, as well as geese, ducks and quail, and coming in a range of colors from blues and greens, to salmon, brown and traditional white. Their size and nutrient content varies between all of them. Duck eggs have a thicker shell than chicken eggs. They have a higher albumin (protein) content, which makes them more ideal for baking, making cakes and fluffy pastries. Duck eggs have a lower water content, but are higher in omega-3s, vitamins A and D, minerals, protein, fat and cholesterol as compared to chicken eggs. Because of the lower water content, it is important to be careful to not overcook these eggs. Those who are allergic to chicken eggs are not necessarily allergic to duck eggs.
Goose eggs are most available in the spring time. Geese lay only about 40 eggs per year, so these can be more expensive and harder to come by. These eggs are larger and have a thicker shell than chicken eggs. They also have a higher yolk to white ratio. The thick shell can be good for crafting.
Quail eggs are about a quarter of the size of a chicken’s egg. They also have a higher yolk to white ratio. Quail eggs are great boiled and are a great snack size, appetizer or garnish.
Written by Emily Whitmore, Seacoast Eat Local Intern
This week is Dairy and Kids’ day at the Market! Dairy plays a fundamental role in children’s diets because it contains beneficial nutrients for bone health. Calcium is a mineral found in dairy products that is stored in the bones and teeth for structural and functional purposes. During childhood we experience rapid bone growth; therefore it is a critical time to make certain that our bones are getting sufficient amounts of calcium to ensure healthy and maximum growth. Below shows the recommended dietary allowances of calcium for all ages. To get an idea of what some of this might look like, 1 ½ slices of cheese or 1 cup of low fat milk, yogurt or calcium fortified juice all contain about 300 mg of calcium each.
Recommended Dietary Allowances for Calcium:
0-6 months = 200 mg/day
7-12 months = 260 mg/day
1-3 years = 700 mg/day
4-8 years = 1,000 mg/day
9-18 years = 1,300 mg/day
19-70 years = 1,000 mg/day
71+ years = 1,200 mg/day
A pediatric dentist from Dentistry @ its Finest explains that our bodies cannot produce calcium and will take calcium from our bones if we don’t get enough. This can lead to low bone mass or develop into osteoporosis, or porous/fragile bones. This is why it is critical to include calcium-rich foods into our diets. Below are some calcium-rich sources and where they can be found at the market:
Brandmoore Farm: raw cow’s milk
Brookford Farm: raw cow’s milk
Jesta Farm: raw goat’s milk
Brookford Farm: Camembert, Brie, feta, cottage cheese, quark and raw cheddar made with dairy from grass-fed livestock
Hickory Nut Farm: goat milk cheese
Wolf Meadow Farm: Italian artisan cheeses such as mozzarella, ricotta, caciocavallo, caciotta, scamorza and primo sale
Brandmoore Farm: whole milk yogurt
Hickory Nut Farm: yo-goat-gurt
***Remember, dairy isn’t the only source of calcium. Non-dairy sources of calcium such as kale and collard greens are available at the market as well!
Calcium works closely with another mineral called Phosphorus. About 85% of Phosphorus in our body is found in our bone and teeth. It plays a role in bone mineralization and maximizes bone strength. Phosphorus is found in many food sources such as dairy products, meat, fish, nuts, beans and whole grains.
Lastly, it is important to get plenty of Vitamin D. Vitamin D also plays a role in bone health because it improves calcium absorption and promotes optimal bone formation. Sources of Vitamin D include the sun, supplements and food sources such as fatty fish (salmon, tuna) and fortified products (milk, orange juice, cereals). The Daily Value of Vitamin D for children/adults above the age of 4 is 400 IU/day.
An excellent way to sneak calcium into the diet of stubborn children is through one of their favorite recipes – macaroni and cheese! Skip the processed stuff from the box and make your own! Or if you’re looking for a lighter option, whip up a refreshing, calcium-rich smoothie for your children to enjoy! See recipes below.
Stovetop Mac and Cheese from http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/stovetop-mac-cheese INGREDIENTS:
1 ¼ cups uncooked elbow macaroni (about 6 ounces)
1 cup milk 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 ¼ cups (5 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese ½ teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 slice of bread 1 tablespoon butter, melted
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
Combine milk and flour in a medium saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add cheese, salt, and pepper, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add pasta; toss to coat. Let stand 4 minutes.
Place bread in a food processor, and pulse 10 times or until the crumbs measure 1 1/4 cups.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs, and cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in melted butter; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over pasta mixture.
Written by Kelsey MacDonald
Seacoast Eat Local Intern
Dairy products provide many essential nutrients, especially those associated with bone health. Calcium is a mineral known for building strong bones and teeth and maintaining bone mass and density. Dairy is the primary source of calcium in most people’s diets. It is recommended that at least three servings should be consumed daily to satisfy the body’s needs. Potassium is also found in milk and yogurt and is known for helping maintain a healthy blood pressure. Vitamin D is found mainly in fortified dairy products and is an important vitamin for healthy bones by helping the body absorb calcium. The fat content of dairy varies greatly depending if you choose whole, low-fat or skim milk. Lastly, dairy is a source of high quality or complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids our bodies need. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Intake of dairy products is linked to improved bone health, and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.”
There is still a lot of controversy about raw milk and its safety for consumers; with many passionate groups fighting for and against the ability to buy it. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that it is unsafe due to the potential disease causing pathogens present before the milk is heat treated. It is important to ensure your milk is coming from a licensed, clean and regularly inspected facility and from cows that are pasture-raised to reduce this risk. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, milk “can be produced hygienically and benefits are destroyed in pasteurization.” It is also said that while pasteurization kills the bad bacteria, it also kills the good bacteria – hence leading to the continued debate. Raw cheddar cheese is approved in places where fresh raw dairy products are not permitted to be sold, but only if it is aged over 60 days because the longer fermentation period kills off any potential pathogens. While this is a very personal decision, it is important to know your farmer and their practices before buying their products.
Raw milk is also believed to have many health benefits over pasteurized and homogenized milk. You can ensure the milk’s freshness when buying directly from the farmer at the markets or at the farm itself. According to Brandmore Farm, “Many people find it easier to digest raw milk compared to pasteurized milk; it contains enzymes that help break down the milk and aids in the digestive process.” There is no processing; just filtration and cooling. When from grass-fed cows, it contains a high quantity of antimicrobials and a beneficial fatty acid known as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3’s fatty acids. It has a fat content of about 3.9 percent depending on the breed of cow or goat. This higher fat content gives it a full flavor, and leads to more satiety while providing beneficial nutrients. Without being homogenized, the fat globules float to the top and require the milk to be shaken to redistribute the fat before drinking.
Raw cream is especially exciting in the spring time when the cows are back on pastures. Cream is densely packed with nutritional value, including fat soluble vitamins and beneficial bacteria. It is great for making your own fresh butter and buttermilk, adding to coffee, cooking and whipping. The beneficial bacteria and enzymes aid in digestion, which are typically lost during heating through pasteurization.
Similarly, raw yogurt, whole and low-fat from cow’s and goat’s milk is packed with beneficial bacteria and enzymes, known as probiotics. Plain yogurt can be tangy, but allows for the opportunity to flavor it your own way if you’d prefer. It is also great to add to a smoothie, especially if you have any frozen berries from the summer! Keifer is similar to yogurt in the way that they are both cultured milk products, but keifer is drinkable and easier on the go. Because of the smaller curd size, keifer is easier to digest for all ages.
You can find specialty and artisan cheeses, both fresh and aged at the markets including, but not limited to; raw cheedar, camerbert, brie, feta, cottage, quark (plain, garlic and dill, and horseradish), fresh mozzarella, ricotta, caciocavallo, caciotta, scamorza, lacey white, terrene, and chebar. Each of these varieties has something special to offer. Many of the farms and cheese makers offer samples of their products and flavor profile descriptions at the market allowing you to make the best choice for your pallet.
Other dairy bi-products at the markets include goat milk soap, goat milk fudge, and maple ice cream in the summers.
March is National Nutrition Month®!
Written by Emily Whitmore, Seacoast Eat Local Intern
National Nutrition Month® is a national campaign that aims to educate and provide awareness to the public on the importance of nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. It was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is the leading organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy was founded by a group of women during World War I as a way to keep track of government food. Today, the organization has expanded to 75,000 members ranging from a variety of professionals including Registered Dietitians, Nutritionists and even students, all dedicated to promoting good health throughout our country.
The academy named “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle” as the overlying theme of 2015’s National Nutrition Month®. This returns to the concept of combining physical activity and making informed, lower calorie food choices to reduce the risk of chronic disease, maintain a healthy body weight and promote overall health.
Two food groups that are nutrient dense and support Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle are fruits and vegetables. The farmers’ market has some fruit and a HUGE variety of vegetables available ranging from greens, carrots, potatoes, kohlrabi, beets, apples and much more!
If you’re trying to determine what types of nutrients are contained in each fruit or vegetable, a helpful hint is in the color! Those that are alike in color often contain similar nutrient profiles. Here are some of the nutrients that may be found in each:
Pink/Red (beets, radishes, red bell peppers, tomatoes, apples)
Orange(carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash)
Yellow(yellow bell peppers, squash)
Green (kale, spinach, micro-greens)
Vitamins A, C, K
Purple (eggplant, purple cabbage, purple carrots)
White (cauliflower, potatoes, onions)
Another goal of Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle is to increase the consumption of whole grains versus refined grains. The market provides whole grain options such as bread and pastas from The Canterbury Bread Shop and Valicenti Pasta!
Other whole grains you may find include locally grown wheat berries and Brookford Farm whole-wheat flour. All whole grain options are high in fiber and may help reduce risk of heart disease.
Healthy protein sources are also an important component of eating a healthy balanced diet. There are a huge variety of lean proteins available at the winter market such as grass-fed or pastured meats including beef, bison, lamb and chicken. Beans, lentils, cheese and eggs are also excellent protein sources that can be found at the market.
So jump into National Nutrition Month® by stocking up on your favorite fruit, vegetables, whole grains and protein from the next Seacoast Eat Local Winter Market!
Here are some helpful and hopefully inspiring ways to enjoy local food, celebrate the seasons and eat local foods all year long.
January (Nov-April) : Winter Farmers Markets
Winter markets are a fun and warm retreat from the harsh weather. In addition to many farmers and edible products, some markets have live music, instructional demos, and tastings in addition to the shopping. They are a great way to stay connected to your local food source and try a variety of root, storage crops and greens through the colder months. Some are weekly and some are bi-weekly, so be sure to check the schedule before attending.
Saturdays Seacoast Eat Local (Rollinsford and Exeter) NewmarketFarmer’s Market, Newmarket NH Rolling Green Nursery, Greenland NH
Raymond Farmers Market, Raymond NH
Saco River Farmer’s Market, Saco, ME
York Gateway Farmer’s Market, York, ME
Sunday Berwick Farmer’s Market, Berwick, ME
Kittery Farmer’s Market, Kittery, ME
Salem Farmer’s Market, Salem, NH
February – CSA Fairs & Sign Ups
Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) creates a partnership between farmers and their customers. CSA members become shareholders, sharing the risks and benefits of the growing season. In return for making a investment early in the season, CSA members receive their “share” of the crops (typically given in weekly allotments) and are able to have a taste of what is in season. By paying ahead, the members are able to help the farmers pay for seeds and up front labor costs.To see more information on specific CSAs check out http://www.seacoasteatlocal.org/find-local-food/csas/
February is also the month of football celebrations and snacks. Make sure to include local wings in your football festivities!
Also, don’t forget to support your local greenhouse if you choose to purchase flowers to celebrate Valentine’s Day this month.
March – NH Maple Month/ Weekend
New Hampshire maple month is a great time to get to tour some local farms featuring their maple products. Every weekend this month different farms throughout the state host open houses including demos, tastings and a tree tapping ceremony. Be sure to check of the site for dates and times. This is a sweet event that’s perfect for the whole family to enjoy!
April –Local Easter Dinner Including local Hams and Home Garden Planning
Talk to the farmers at the winter markets to reserve your local food to share with your family for the big holiday meal. Local hams are a great addition to your big meal, especially with a local, homemade maple glaze. See recipe below for an easy example.
Maple glaze for ham:
¾ cup local maple syrup 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover ham with glaze during the last half hour of cooking. Baste frequently.
This is an in-between time in the New England growing season, so it is a great time to try new cooking techniques and recipes to prepare for the upcoming peak growing season. There are cooking and preserving classes happening all year round. By preparing with knowledge and equipment now, you’ll be more prepared for the peak harvest of fruits and vegetables at the high point of the season. See the links for more info:
It is also a great time to start planning out your home gardens or consider being a part of a community garden near you. This allows you to get to know others in your community with similar interests who can help with any agricultural/growing questions.
There are 30 summer farmer’s markets in the area of York, Rockingham, and Strafford counties. These are a great way to stay connected to your local food source and get to know your farmers, as most are held weekly, and some bi-weekly. The summer is a busy time of year for growers and others at the market. Be sure to support their hard work. These are fun to bring the kids and allow them to be a part of the local food shopping.Check out which one is near you for the dates and times at Seacoastharvest.org
June –PYO strawberries
Picking your own produce is fun for everyone!
By picking your own you usually end up paying a better price per pound. It is a way to feel more connected to your food source, especially since you had a hand in the harvest. Strawberries are usually quite quick to pick because of their size and are a great treat. They last for less than a week if stored in the refrigerator, so preserving through cooking, canning or freezing are a few suggested options. Rhubarb is also in season at this time, which pairs well with the strawberries. If preserving is something new for you, check out this easy strawberry freezer jam. It is fun to make with friends or family after a day of picking.
Freezer Strawberry Jam 1quart fully ripe strawberries 4cups sugar 3⁄4cupwater 1box fruit pectin (like Sure Jell)
You will need clean plastic containers and lids; rinse them thoroughly with boiling water and make sure they are completely dry.
Rinse strawberries gently with clean water, pat dry, then stem and crush them thoroughly, one layer at a time.
Measure exactly 2 cups crushed berries into a large bowl; stir in sugar.
Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Mix water and pectin in small saucepan; bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly.
Continue boiling and stirring 1 minute.
Remove from heat and add to fruit mixture; stir constantly for three minutes or until sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy; a few sugar crystals may remain and that’s okay.
Fill prepared containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops.
Wipe off top edges and immediately cover with lids.
Let stand at room temperature 24 hours.
Your jam is now ready to use, and can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks or
Picking your own blueberries and raspberries will take longer than strawberries because of their smaller size, but will also be more cost effective and fresher than buying already picked. With these, it is fun to make picking a game with the family or friends. Some options include seeing who can pick the most and guess the weight – whoever is closest when the berries are weighed, wins! These are great to have all year round for baking and smoothies. When freezing, be sure they are fully dried, place a single layer on a cookie sheet and place flat in the freezer so they can freeze individually, then bag and date.
August – NH Eat Local Month! (special events, farm days and open houses)
National & New Hampshire Farmers Market Week
August is a busy month for local food. This is month features special events throughout the area on farms and at the market including tours, potlucks, preserving information, picnics, BBQs and much more. Be sure to look at http://www.seacoasteatlocal.org/nheatlocal/events/ so you don’t miss these fun happenings.
There will also be special events at the markets for all ages at the beginning of the month to celebrate all the hard work so far. This is a week of markets not to be missed!
Pick your own peaches and peach festivals are also happening. They are a quick pick and a sweet and juicy snack and great to add to your preserved fruit collection.
September – Apple Picking, PYO Raspberries, Fish and Farm Festival
Apple picking is always fun for all ages and there are many delicious cooking options to follow. There are sometimes hayrides and animals to enrich the family fun experience. Homemade apple sauce is a healthy treat and also can be used for an oil substitute in baking to reduce fat intake. Raspberries are also back in season for another fall treat. An apple raspberry crisp would be a great way to combine the two seasonal specialties.
October – Pumpkin Picking, Cider Festivals, Hayrides/Corn Mazes
Pumpkin carving and corn mazes are a New England tradition for this time of year. You cannot forget the hayrides, cider and cider donuts while you are there! Roasting the pumpkin seeds make for a healthy snack on-the-go and allow you the freedom to flavor them your way.
November – Winter Farmers Markets Open, Thanksgiving – Local Chicken, Turkey & Ham
The winter markets are back! Make sure to reserve your Thanksgiving turkey ahead of time from your famer at the market. There are also all the sides and fixings you will need to go along with your turkey including fresh cranberries for an easy homemade cranberry sauce.
Cranberry Sauce 4-6 servings 1(12 ounce) bag 1cup sugar 1cup orange juice or 1 cup water
Mix all ingredients in a med sauce pan.
Bring to boil; simmer until berries pop.
Chill until ready to serve.
December – Holiday Winter Markets
Winter is beginning to be underway, and it is time to celebrate the holidays and the coming of the new year! You will find all the fixings for your special holiday meal. Keep in mind, you may have to sign up to reserve your specialty products ahead of time to help the farmers plan accordingly for everyone. You can also find a large variety of great gifts from mushroom powders, to oils, dried herbs and seasonings, wool scarves and mittens, gift cards and market tokens!
The Strafford County Farm Bureau is hosting its annual fundraiser breakfast with locally-sourced foods, from a variety of farms in the area, on Sunday, March 8, from 8am-12pm at the Jeremiah Smith Grange Hall in Lee (1 Lee Hook Road in Lee, NH). A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Strafford County Farm Bureau’s Youth-In-Agriculture grant program. This is a great opportunity to enjoy local foods that were grown and prepared by local farmers. This is a popular event, so please understand if there is a line getting in.
Adults are $10, Children (12&under) $7. You can save $2/person by reserving your tickets in advance. You can email Matt Scruton at: [email protected] to RSVP and your discounted tickets will be held at the door (you can then just pay at the door) or you can also RSVP by contacting any of other Strafford County Farm Bureau board members. All are welcome, even if you do not RSVP, but you must RSVP before March 8th to qualify for the discount. Donations at the door will also be welcome. If you would like to help the Strafford County Farm Bureau advertise the event, feel free to share this post or copies of the attached flyer. Thanks!
Written by Emily Whitmore
Seacoast Eat Local Intern
The Seacoast Eat Local farmers’ markets are loaded with many varieties of high quality protein, including grass-fed meats. Protein is an essential part of our diet and is a vital nutrient used to build and repair tissues in the body. When we think of protein, a few sources that typically come to mind include beef, pork, fish and poultry. There are many different management methods when it comes to raising livestock, and today we will discuss the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed meats.
Grass-fed meats, whether beef, bison, or elk are jam packed with flavor. But the difference between grass-fed and corn-fed meats go well beyond taste profiles. Since childhood we’ve been taught that eating lots of greens can be very beneficial for our health, and this holds true for livestock as well! Cows are ruminants and herbivores, who thrive on high quality pasture and hay. One hundred percent grass-fed meats come from livestock that consumed only grass from beginning to end, with no corn or grain supplement at any point during their growth.
This grass-only diet is reflected in the meat which is considered lean, and is lower in total fat and calories. Saturated fats are of particular concern when consuming meats because they can raise cholesterol levels which can increase risk of heart disease. However, grassfed meats are lower in these saturated fats when compared to grain-fed livestock. Grassfed meats have also been shown to contain a higher content of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is a fatty acid that has been shown to have cancer prevention benefits. Grass-fed meats are also higher in omega-3s, which are fatty acids that decrease triglyceride levels in the blood and have been shown to be beneficial for cardiovascular health. Another health benefit includes higher amounts of essential vitamins A and E. These vitamins are necessary in vision health, growth and development, and heart and brain disease prevention. Despite the health benefits, making sure to stick to healthy serving sizes of protein is essential for good health. The recommended portion sizes for lean meat, poultry and fish according to the American Heart Association is 3 oz.
Not only does grassfed meat prove to be beneficial for eaters, but in general the livestock benefit as well. By definition, grass-fed livestock have to have access to pasture and open spaces, meaning that they are not confined to small, overcrowded feedlots. As a result they can experience less stress, which can lead to reduced amounts of disease.
Now that you’re an expert on grassfed meats, pick some up for yourself from the Bison Project, New Roots Farm or Velvet Pastures Elk Ranch at this week’s Pick Your Protein Market! And even if meat isn’t your thing, don’t panic! The market also has plenty vegetarian sources of protein available such as eggs, beans and lentils. Come support our farmers and snag some beans or soybeans from Baer’s Best Farm and some free-range eggs from White Cedar or White Gate Farms!