In this week’s box:
1/2 dozen eggs
1 flat of peaches
14 ears of corn
1 pint of blackberries
1 1/2 pints of raspberries
3 lbs of string beans
Pick-your-own bonus available only between 9am – 12pm
2 pints of PYO raspberries
1 pint of PYO blackberries
1 quart of PYO grapes
Total retail value of this week’s box: $105.50
Total retail value of goods distributed this year: $1016.50
What a feast of watermelon we have had this year! If you’re looking for a new way to serve it, try pairing it with corn in a salsa. Simply chop the watermelon into a small dice, add an ear or two’s worth of corn kernels (No need to cook them, but sometimes it makes it easier to cut them from the cob if you zap the unshucked ear in the microwave for a couple minutes.). Throw in chopped red onion, some minced jalapeno pepper if you have it, olive oil, lime juice and chopped cilantro, parsley or basil (My rule on herbs is to use whatever’s growing best.). Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper. This would be great with some hearty blue corn tortilla chips, and would make a pleasingly colorful appetizer at a party.
Turn your peaches and blackberries into a quick and relatively healthy crisp for dessert. For this recipe, I would use two peaches and about a half dozen of these giant blackberries. It’s fairly forgiving, though, so adjust it as you see fit.
Peach and blackberry crisp
2 peaches, peeled and cut into 8 slices each
half-dozen (or so) of Snead’s giant blackberries
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour (All-purpose is fine, but I feel like I can pile on more ice cream if I use “healthy” whole-wheat.)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/8 cup chopped almonds or walnuts (optional)
Spray a 1.5-quart baking dish with cooking spray and arrange peaches and berries in dish.
Combine flour, sugar, oats, cinnamon, salt and butter in a medium mixing bowl. Use your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until just about all of the dry ingredients feel coated with butter. Lightly mix in the nuts, if using. Spread this mixture over the fruit and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the top is browned. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Those grapes are something else. Such strong, true grape flavor. It’s hard to eat grocery store grapes after this. But they do have a lot of seeds. Last week I made freezer jam out of mine. It took about an hour, and I did it after the kids were in bed, but it was worth it. I have made a lot of freezer jams that haven’t jelled, but this one worked. I think that’s because grapes contain a lot of natural pectin. I have three jars in my freezer, but kept one in the fridge to eat right away. It was great on buttered toast and, of course, in peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. If I have time this week I’d like to take it to the next level by putting the jam between two layers of peanut butter shortbread crust and making PB&J bars. Like I said, if I had time. Here is the process I used to make jam out of my grapes. I highly recommend doing this, so that you can go enjoy a great big spoonfull of that glorious grape-y goodness without stopping to spit seeds.
Concord Grape Freezer Jam
2 quarts Concord grapes, washed
3 8-oz canning jars made specifically for freezer use (I used Ball plastic freezer jars with green lids), plus one more container for the jam you will use right away and store in the fridge (This does not need to be canning-quality. I used a recycled glass jelly jar).
2 tablespoons instant pectin (I used Ball RealFruit Instant Pectin)
2/3 cup sugar
*You’ll also need a food processor, a medium saucepan, a medium mixing bowl and a fine sieve or strainer.
Set up the counter so that you have your sauce pan and your food processor right next to each other. Skin the grapes by holding them, one by one, with your fingers so that the stem end is pointing into the sauce pan. Squeeze so that the flesh and seed pop into the saucepan, then throw the skin in the food processor. This takes a while. Maybe put your setup in front of the TV so you can stay occupied.
Place the saucepan of grape flesh over medium heat until it starts to boil. Cover and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, add 1/3 cup of the sugar to the grape skins and whir them in the food processor until smooth.
When you’re finished cooking the grape innards, place your sieve over your mixing bowl and pour in the hot grapes. Use a wooden spoon, a ladle or a potato masher to mash the grape pulp until most of the pulp and juice is in the bowl and you are left with just the seeds in the sieve (It is nearly impossible to separate all the flesh from the seeds, so don’t sweat it.).
Mix the remaining 1/3 cup sugar with the pectin in a small bowl. Add the strained grape pulp back into your sauce pan, along with the pureed grape skins and the sugar and pectin mixture. Place over medium heat and stir for about 3 minutes.
Pour this mixture into your clean jars. Leave 1/2 inch of space at the top of the freezer jars to allow for expansion. This should fill the three freezer jars, plus leave a little extra to store in the fridge for immediate use. Let the jars sit uncovered on the counter for 30 minutes. The jam will seem very runny when you put it away, but after a night in the fridge it will thicken.
Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, freezer for up to a year.