Seattleites have their favorite farmers markets and it’s not always the one closest to home. My favorite is the University Farmers Market. When I conceived of my preserves company, I imagined making large produce orders with folks like Billy’s Gardens and Tonnemaker Family Orchard and having the deliveries dropped to the jam kitchen with enough time to ripen any lingering firm fruits in time for weekend jam-making. Then to supplement the big orders, to feed my sense of inspiration, and drive product development I imagined making weekly early morning trips to the University Farmers Market to pick up Damson Plums from Mair Taki Farm and currants from the people next to Mair Taki’s stand who bring unusual cane berries and hard to find stone fruits like Royal Blenheim Apricots.
I do make it to the farmers market weekly, but it’s a different one every time. Strawberries and blackberries have me running all over the city. The trick is finding a fresh market berry farmer willing to wholesale their produce in buckets and who comes to city on a Friday or Saturday. Berries in buckets have no shelf life. They must be used within a day or two of harvest. So my trips to the markets have been more dash-like than meandering and curious. Product development comes in a different form too. The 3 lbs. of blackberries left over from making Blackberry Prune Jam combine with the 2 lbs. of apricots left from Apricot Butter and become a small batch of Blackberry Apricot Jam that I deliver to my Subscribers.
Funny, I sat down to write about the leisurely trip I DID make to University Market this weekend and look what it became. I was going to tell you about the odd, and I think surprising relationship between the ended summer season and ensuing flood of tomatoes to the market, where just by sheer quantity and lowered price per pound, tomatoes shift from a beacon of summer to a sign of fall. What is this time of year? We spend the growing season looking to the grower heralding just exactly where we are in the season by way of what they bring to market and then September comes. It’s cold, but sometimes it’s hot and that excited question, “what’s next? tomatoes? are they ready yet?” becomes “oh no, celeriac! we’re there already?”
The tomato flood and its signal of an oncoming tomato drought does have an upside, Tomato Jam. Just now I finished off a package of bacon, really only two slices remained, and slathered the remainders with Tomato Jam, which depending on how you look at it is a glorious ketchup or a sophisticated savory fruit jam built for cheese and sour breads. Tomato Jam goes on the menu soon at The Whale Wins and you can currently purchase jars at DeLaurenti and Sugarpill on Capitol Hill.