Sunday, June 13

Choosing a Farm Market and Making Jam

I have been going to the same farm for strawberries for years, but the last couple of years, the farm was unkempt, strawberries were bad, little or non-existent, and the people running the farm store were not very helpful and a little unfriendly.

I decided this was the year to find a new farm! so started to look for a "Pick Your Own" type farm.
   
My son Daniel and my mid 1990's cow motif kitchen

I started canning (or preserving food) when my son Daniel was little,in the early 1990's.  The photo above shows him at about 2 1/2 years old. And yea, I had a "cow" decorated kitchen, yikes!



One of the first things I made was Strawberry Freezer Jam in the early 1990's after tasting someone else's.  I went home and looked up the recipe (at that time I think in a book, ha, Google hadn't happened yet) and gathered up the needed supplies.  It has been the only jam we have eaten since.  I try to make enough homemade jam for our family to last for a year.

Fresh picked strawberries from a local farm

The second thing I started preserving were tomatoes. They are pretty easy to can, not many steps involved and can be used in soups, sauces and a large variety of dishes. And you get the fresh tomato flavor without all the additives and preservatives found in a lot of commercial products.  Mine are just tomatoes, a little salt and lemon juice.

Well this year I searched a few farms on the web and found a good website: Pickyourown.org.  You can search your own state to find produce farms near you.  My search gave me lists of farms in my area of central Ohio, and after mapquesting a few, I spent a Monday driving around to 3 or 4.  I looked at their fields and fruit and talked to the people running the farms.
I look for many things in choosing a farm to buy produce from, and here are a few.

Fresh red raspberries 

The first is I want an organic farm. I've had enough of commercial food laden with chemicals from grocery stores.
I am thinking the more I preserve my own food, the healthier my eating will be, or at least a little more natural.  I have a small vegetable garden and lots of flower gardens and do not use chemicals on any of them.

Second, I look for a " clean" farm.  Clean as in old farm equipment setting around for looks or the "farm feel" is great, wonderful even, but broken down junk and parts and trash, no, can't do it.

I am a little OCD, so I think that if their farm looks that "trashy" or unkempt, what are they doing or not doing to their produce?

And three:  This may not be important to some of you, but I want to "like" the people I am buying produce from.


Raspberries at Jacquemin Farms
I pick my own and purchase many things, so will make many trips back to the farm a few times a year. It is a relationship of sorts, so I want it to be pleasant and friendly.  I have had enough of mean people and people who hate their jobs.  I can go to the grocery store for those kind people.  Or the bank, or the post office, you get the idea.

The two farms I chose, (yes two), are these and I like them both for different reasons.  The first one is Jacquemin Farms.  We picked raspberries but they also have strawberries and other berries, vegetables and pumpkins.
They are located at 7437 Hyland-Croy Road, Plain City, Ohio, and are really close to Dublin, west of Columbus. 
It's a very clean farm, well kept and the ladies running the store are very helpful.  The owner was even present, and helpful too.

This farm just seems (or feels) like more of a "city farm", I suppose because there are housing projects all around and a few truck companies can be seen from the fields.  They're also a little more expensive than the farms that are located a little farther out in the country.


Me holding the raspberry container,
and my daughter in the background
We picked 6 quarts of red raspberries and made 24 - 1/2 pints of raspberry jam.  Here is the recipe I used from the Blue Ribbon Preserves book.

Raspberry Jam

Ingredients:
4 cups crushed, fresh ripe raspberries
1 tablespoon of strained lemon juice
6 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 (3-ounce) pouch of pectin

Directions:

Before measuring the raspberries, sieve about 3/4 of the crushed fruit to remove the seed or the jam will be mostly seeds. (I like the seeds so I do not remove mine) While fresh raspberries usually make the best jam, frozen berries also produce a very good jam. A 12 oz bag of frozen raspberries will yield about 1 1/2 cups of crushed fruit or about 1 cup of seedless pulp.
In an 8-quart pan, combine the raspberries, lemon juice, sugar and butter.
Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any foam.

To prevent the jam from separating in the jars, allow the jam to cool 5 minutes before filling the jars. Gently stir the jam every minute or so to distribute the fruit. Ladle the jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 -inch head space. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process half-pint jars in a 200°F (93°C) water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes.

PRINT RECIPE

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The second farm was Hann Farm.  We picked strawberries and boy were they sweet and delicious.  Hann Farm also has many vegetables in season.  The farm is located at 4600 Lockbourne Road, south of Columbus.  

A farming we will go, tractor with manure spreader at Hann Farm

It is a clean "real" farm, has barns, lots of fields of vegetables and even horses.  They also have a pumpkin patch in the fall which I'll probably visit.  I was impressed by the neat well kept rows and farm market store.  This has a real farm feel about it, and for that "real farm" feel, while we were there, an older gentleman in bibs came by the rows of strawberries driving an old tractor pulling a manure wagon.
We canned  enough Strawberry jam to last till the following June.

Click here for the step by step directions for: Strawberry Freezer Jam
You will not believe the wonderful strawberry flavor the freezer jam produces!

Hope you had a great spring and an even better summer,

Elizabeth



Pectin:
Been wondering what pectin is?  It not an animal by product!
"Pectin is a natural carbohydrate that is extracted from the inner peel of many fruits; it is most commonly extracted from lemons, as well as limes, oranges and grapefruits. The peels are washed, ground and processed to extract the pectin. The pectin is then refined, vacuum-dried and ground."


Other Posts:

Quick and Easy Strawberry Cake

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Canning Tomatoes


And here are a couple websites to help get you started canning.

Ball Brand Fresh Preserving

Sure Jell Pectin FAQ




2 comments:

Anonymous said...


Self sustaining or homesteading is a way of life dedicated to helping people live longer and healthier without the use of chemicals or hormones in their food. Some unscrupulous farmers label their agricultural products as organic just be able to sell them at premium prices even if they do not really practice sound organic farming (http://www.squidoo.com/is-organic-farming-the-solution) practices. They made for a lot more profitability for substantial farms which focus on the development of just one kind of plant. Present Market Scenario:. Organic means grown without most conventional pesticides and fertilizers.

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

If I understand you correctly you are advocating for people to grow their own food. I am on that band wagon. I advocate growing your own food, including meat, fruits and vegetables as much as each person is able to. That way we know what's in our food and how it was processed. Not everyone has the acreage nor the physical ability to grow their own food but everyone, even people in the city can have a vegetable garden or patio garden. The more we can grow of our own food the less chemicals we digest and the less dependent we are on others for our food supply.