The Islander Cafe. I think that’s what it was called, the little place on Bainbridge Island in Washington state that served rolls with raspberry freezer jam with each breakfast dish order. If you want good berries, Washington is the place to find them! We loved that raspberry freezer jam so much that we started buying it from the grocery store. It, too, was only available on the island. It was sold in a little grocery store just down the road from the Bainbridge Islands Vineyards & Winery where, if you were lucky, you would pull in to the parking lot on raspberry picking day. On this day, the first thing that would greet you was the blast of aroma from carts of fresh raspberries that waited to be crushed and turned into the ruby red bottles of raspberry wine people ferried across the sound from Seattle to purchase. The jam was so addictive that I started making my own from the baskets of fruit that were readily available at street-side farmer’s stands throughout the Kitsap Peninsula, on which we were fortunate enough to live for a time.
It had been so long since I’d made my freezer jam that my kids had no idea what I was talking about as we crushed berries together and stirred in cup after cup of sugar to make this batch. I’m so ashamed of myself. Sometimes I wonder where I went for a few years there. Uh…make that decade. Life was busy and full of issues, but it wasn’t that busy! I look back now and it seems so rushed and chaotic since we left Washington. I’ve really been loving the slower pace and quality of our family life together this last year. We’ve really been cherishing every moment.
Selling at the farmers market in our small town is bringing me back around. I live naturally, feed my family as organic as possible, forage, hike, garden, but didn’t realize how much was still missing. Preparing things for sale and selling them at the market is it for me. I love it. I’ve wanted to sell at our market for years but because of earlier articles that I read concerning Appalachian Grown registry I didn’t realize how easy it was. I kept trying to get our little farm in the registry, applied year after year, and never heard back from anyone. Our farm never made it into the registry. So I’d go to the market, thinking I should ask one of the vendors how to get a response from the AG organization, but would decide that the process must be more difficult than I’d anticipated. My farm probably had to meet certain requirements, etc. I’d read that 75% of ingredients in products must be from an Appalachian Grown registered farm to be allowed to be sold at our market. I knew I wasn’t growing wheat so couldn’t make bread to sell. I am not a bee keeper, so couldn’t make jellies and jams sweetened with my honey from the berries on my farm. Then I reconnected with a homeschooling mama I knew when our children were just starting school and she filled me in on all the details. She knew all about it and encouraged me to pull our van up and see how it went. That was all it took for my new obsession to begin. It’s so easy to sell. They don’t allow crafts and such, which I totally understand, it’s a farmers market after all, and the selling of produce from a local farm is encouraged.
We don’t have a tent or folding tables like the other vendors, which proved problematic the first two weeks. Week one was rainy, week two sunny and cool, which made my toffee, bread, and muffins sweat in their little packages. My chives wilted to little threads. So those are issues we are working to correct. But as far as the set up goes, we just pulled all the vintage red tables, chairs, stools, etc. out of our kitchen and threw them in the back of the van.
We’ve received lots of positive feedback on the look of our “booth” so, other than purchasing two red bistro umbrellas and stands, we aren’t going to change a thing.
I built a picket fence potting bench this weekend to give us more vertical display space after noticing that customers were having to bend over to inspect our products. I know that if I have trouble figuring out what something is, or have to speak to the vendor to find out, I will opt to move along. I am pretty shy, so understand. Having to answer customer questions has been difficult for me. Having things at eye level with descriptive signs will help the customer and me have an easier time of it. it will also be a great place to display our fresh raspberries at eye level when they will be ready to be picked in June.
This batch of jam is a little runny because I used frozen berries, as fresh organic aren’t readily available in my area at the moment. Strawberries are hitting and raspberries and blackberries are coming along. This batch was amazing spooned onto the French toast I made from my French batards.
2 c. organic raspberries
2c. organic strawberries
1 c. organic blueberries
3 c. turbinado sugar
1 pouch liquid Certo fruit pectin
3 T organic lemon juice
Place all the berries in a bowl.
Add the sugar to macerate.
Allow to sit for 20 minutes, crushing the berries as they break down.
Add the lemon juice to the pectin. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Combine the fruit and sugar with the lemon/pectin mix.
Place in containers and leave at room temperature to set for 24 hours.
It can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 weeks or frozen for up to a year.
Yield: app. 3 pints