Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 3:38 PM on Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stock up on summer while you can

Farmers' Market


It's that time of the year when the grocery cart is full of jars, sugar, pectin and vinegar. As the leaves start blowing from the trees, we are reminded that the glory of summer doesn't last forever and a strong urge to preserve everything comes over us. I know it hit my house this year.

Last year I swore I would never make another dill pickle. I had never thought that getting overwhelmed by cucumbers would be a curse. But this year we were better prepared. It meant doing a little research and being rather adventurous, but we have some beautiful jars in our pantry like nothing I've ever seen before.

It turns out that there are entire books dedicated to pickling; the one I found was more than an inch thick. We now have pickled pumpkin with ginger, pickled beans with tarragon and basil, some amazing Giardiniera with cauliflower, carrots, beans and onions, and even some of the best bread-and-butter pickles you've ever tried.

Green, orange, white — it seems like these jars should be on display rather than eaten.

All of these ingredients are available down at the Homer Farmers' Market. How about rhubarb mint chutney or spiced pumpkin butter? I counted at least four different kinds of squash last weekend at the Market and a couple of options for local honey as your sweetener. And most recipes can be made with a simple boiling water bath if you don't have a canner.

Food can always be an adventure. It's fun to try fresh new things (like Charles' cardoon), or try to keep things fresh in the root cellar (like those parsnips from Dan and Luba), but canning makes summer last even longer.

If you consider jams and jellies too simple, adventure into pickling. If that is old hat, try fermenting vegetables with simple salt and spices or even venture into the world of lacto-fermentation. If you have done it all, give me your recipes.

And head on down the Homer Farmers' Market this Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. or Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. and stock up a little bit of summer.

Kyra Wagner is the director of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers' Market's biggest fan. She can be reached at kyra@ sustainablehomer.org.