Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Strawberries and Scapes, Get them while you can

The lovely weather the past couple of weekends has been the perfect thing to draw nice crowds to the Farmers Market.  So far, the prediction for this Saturday looks to be just as nice.  So, come on out to the Muskingum County Fairgrounds from 9:00am-noon to see what we have to offer. 
It is nice to see the market grow each week as the season progresses.  It stars with rather humble beginnings at the beginning of May, but as the summer progresses the number of customers continue to grow and more and more vendors come out to sell their goods.
            Last week, strawberries were a hot commodity.  I’m sure the same will be true this week as local strawberry season is very short lived.  My mouth waters as I write this knowing there is a big bowl of them sitting in my refrigerator.  I’m not sure if they are going to last long enough for me to get any shortbread made; I keep eating them a few at a time when I come in to take a break from planting and weeding in the field.          
            Now that June has arrived there is another opportunity for you to buy fresh, local goods during the middle of the week as well.  The Downtown Farmers Market will be held on Wednesdays from 3:00-6:30pm in the Welcome Center parking lot, just off the Fifth Street I-70 exit ramp.  This is a good opportunity to restock if you have run out of produce by mid-week or if you overslept on Saturday morning and didn’t make it out to the Fairgrounds.
If you have read my column in past years, you have heard me talk before about garlic scapes.  Scape is the name given to the flower stalk of the garlic plant.  It grows up through the center of the plant, usually appearing in early June around here.  It looks like a thin, curly, green snake.  It can be snapped off and used for cooking.  Scapes can be used in any dish to which you would add fresh garlic.  They are more mild than a regular clove of garlic and can be sautéed, grilled, or roasted.  They are great cooked just by themselves with a little butter, salt, and pepper. 
Garlic scape season is short lived, lasting only a couple of weeks.  The good news is that they keep for a really long time in a bag in the crisper and can be chopped up and frozen as well.  The following is a recipe from www.2sistersgarlic.com  I admit that I haven’t tried it yet, but I love to pickle all kinds of veggies and this sounds delicious.  I’m going to stock all my leftover scapes in the fridge and make this recipe when my fresh basil is ready to be picked.

Pickled Garlic Scapes
·         1 pound or more of scapes, whole
·         3 cups vinegar
·         5 cups water
·         ¼ cup kosher salt
·         Fresh Basil Leaves
·         Chili Flakes
Boil the water, vinegar & salt solution. Pack hot jars with whole scapes, 1 fresh basil leaf, a pinch of chili flakes (depending on your spice tolerance) and then the brine. Put on lids, place in a hot water canner and boil for 45 minutes. Leave at least 2 weeks before serving to get best flavor.

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