I examine the mason jar I have selected from the wooden free-standing shelf at Line Hill Farm’s stand at the Rochester Farmers’ Market. The jar reads “Spaghetti Sauce” and the first ingredient listed is “farm fresh tomatoes.” The sauce itself is thick with a deep red color and a complex taste of Italian seasonings, the natural sweetness of the tomatoes, and spiciness from the hot peppers. But this is not just another great tasting tomato sauce – this sauce is rooted in family memories and Sicilian tradition.
Ken Lance, one of the owners of Line Hill Farm, a no-spray farm that is located in New Durham, NH, learned to make this specialty from his Sicilian father. Ken described that while his dad was not the best overall cook, his sauce was legendary. In true Sicilian fashion, his father, Mr. Lance, would cook the sauce for 36-48 hours, simmering it and then turning off the heat, bringing the temperature up and down – the secret to reducing the excess moisture of the sauce. In other tomato sauces, sugar is added to minimize the water content, but Line Hill’s sauce proudly states, “What’s not in it: No added sugar, salt, fructose corn syrup.”
Also following Sicilian practice, throughout the cooking process Mr. Lance would continue to add more ingredients to the sauce, deepening its flavor. While Ken has had to tweak the classic recipe to bring the sauce to market, he continues his father’s culinary traditions. You may be wondering what’s the best way to use this customer favorite, but don’t worry, because when Ken was asked this precise question he replied, “It’s good on everything.”
Other delicious goods you may find at Ken Lance and Ann Richard’s stall include squash, tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, corn, eggplant, jams, honey and more. Line Hill Farm has evolved over the years to include these items and to fulfill Ken’s dream to farm the land, first starting out as a fully wooded piece of property. Ken first acquired the land at the age of 24 and has since then cleared 20 acres for hay and now vegetables and three beehives. The name of the farm is a nod to the property’s past – the old name of the road the farm is on, Line Hill Road, now Middleton Road. The old name reflects the fact that the farm is located along the town line.
After learning of the history of Line Hill Farm, I couldn’t resist buying some of their well-known sauce and a few of their bright red juicy tomatoes. I used these ingredients to make eggplant pizzas – baked eggplant slices, topped with tomato sauce, provolone cheese, diced tomato, and basil. Later, I added the sauce to fresh pasta and a quick vegetable chili dish. Ken was right – this sauce is good on everything!
You can find Line Hill Farm at the following markets:
- Rochester Farmers’ Market, Tuesdays 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm
- New Durham Farmers’ Market, Saturdays 8:30 am – 1:30 pm