Befriending Fennel

Confession: I don’t like fennel. I have never really used fennel and I think I don’t like it.

Last week, we received one small fennel bulb with stalks and fronds. I promptly did with it the only thing I know how to do with fennel, I dispatched it to the freezer to be used in a future fish stock. My favorite fish stock, found here, uses a single bulb of fennel and bulbs used in those stocks remain the only time I have ever used or eaten this locally grown item.

This week, my fennel problem multiplied to two larger plants. Wuh Oh. Game on, fennel.

So, I took to the couch for “research and development” – meaning I combed all my favorite local-foods inspired cookbooks in a big stack. Then, I got to work. First, I separated the plant into three parts, bulb, stalks and fronds. The bulbs went into a produce bag in the fridge. The stalks became more fodder for stock and I separated the fronds, wrapping them in a moist towel inside another bag in the fridge.

Next I chose two promising looking recipes: fennel frond pesto and sauteed fennel and onions. Both come from the CSA Cookbook. Today was “Fennel Frond Pesto” day and my adapted recipe is below.

Fennel fronds smell like licorice and are, honestly, pretty tedious to remove. As a size reference, the two bulbs were fairly small and even still the fronds amounted to about 4 packed cups, twice what I needed.

Fennel Frond Pesto

  • 2c packed fennel fronds
  • 1-2tbs chopped ginger
  • 1/3c olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • juice and zest from 1 full lemon
  • 1/3c raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • ground pepper to taste

Above is my amended recipe- going by the book’s recipe, my pesto was very dense and lacked a bit of ‘zing’ – it looked and tasted a little like something the lawnmower spit out. I added more olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. There is also no cheese in this recipe. It’s still fairly dense as is, but I would consider adding some grated cheese.

And the final verdict? Not bad! Certainly, there was no heavy licorice flavor like I anticipated. Next up? Sauteed fennel bulbs with onions!

August is NH Eat Local Month!

Throughout the month of August, Seacoast Eat Local joins with 70+ partners throughout the state to highlight New Hampshire Eat Local Month — a month-long celebration of local food and New Hampshire farmers and producers.

“New Hampshire residents and visitors, alike, are showing unprecedented interest in local food, and this month-long celebration offers a great opportunity to feature New Hampshire grown foods and farms,” said Gail McWilliam Jellie from the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food.

As part of the NH Eat Local Month festivities, we invite all Seacoast Residents to visit a local farmers market and to consider donating fresh market produce to Seacoast pantries through the NH Gleans Program. Seacoast Eat Local assists with gleaning at markets and donations of fresh produce may be submitted at the Seacoast eat Local table of any one of our seven participating summer farmers’ markets  NH Eat Local Month also coincides with National Farmers’ Market Week, honoring farmers’ markets all across America.

“August is an excellent month to celebrate and introduce people to the bounty of locally grown foods in our state. Eating locally strengthens the health of our community, culture, economy and environment. Many may be surprised at the array and quality available only minutes from their own homes. We hope all Seacoast families will take the opportunity to support and get to know a local farm through shopping at a farm stand or farmers’ market location during this time. We also hope to spread awareness that these opportunities are open to all New Hampshire families, regardless of income, with thanks to our SNAP/EBT acceptance programs at local farmers’ markets.” said Jillian Hall, Director of Programs for Seacoast Eat Local.

New Hampshire Eat Local Month is a statewide celebration of farmers and local food producers throughout the month of August. Promotion of this year’s NH Eat Local Month is in collaboration with the Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, Monadnock Buy Local and Seacoast Eat Local.  Find more information at www.nheatlocal.org and www.facebook.com/nheatlocal.

Seacoast Eat Local connects people with sources of locally grown foods and advocates eating locally for the health of our environment, community, culture and economy. Through advocacy, organizing and education, we work toward a sustainable local food system that meets the needs of both producers and consumers. Our work includes operating a SNAP/EBT Farmers’ Market Program, organizing winter farmers’ markets, producing a local food guide, Seacoast Harvest, sponsoring workshops and events, and providing information through our email newsletter, blog and website, www.seacoasteatlocal.org

Carlee’s Post: How to Grow and Enjoy Raspberries

  This week I had the pleasure of creating a food demonstration to share with our customers who come to visit us on SAMM, the Seacoast Area Mobile Market. This entails using fresh local food products to complete a simple recipe. I chose to have my demonstration centered around raspberries. With their emergence last week onto SAMM’s shelves, I thought it would be a perfect choice. I chose to make a Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade, and a Raspberry vinaigrette. I served the Lemonade in small cups with whole raspberries and mint sprigs to garnish, and the vinaigrette over greens, and carrots and cucumbers from Wake Robin Farm. The more popular of the two samples was the raspberry lemonade. Demonstrations like these are important so we can share different simple ways to enjoy in-season local foods.

Red raspberries, Rubus idaeus, grow wild all over the U.S. and Canada. Raspberries are very high in fiber, the leaves as well as the fruit are very high in vitamin C, a very delicate vitamin that can be easily destroyed by heat, so it is best consumed raw. Raspberries of all colors are rich in cancer preventative compounds known as anthocyanins. You can find wild raspberries growing on the edges of forests in-between trees and grass. The red raspberry plant can be identified by the silvery sheen of the underside of its leaves.The leaves of raspberries have many medicinal benefits. Raspberry leaf is used in a medicinal setting primarily as a tea. It has an astringent or drying quality that is indicative of its ability to tone tissue. It has historically been used to aid women during childbirth, and to tone the uterus during the last month of pregnancy. Raspberry leaf tea is also used as a fo

lk remedy for kidney stones. Fruit syrup of raspberry can be used as a gargle for sore tonsils.

If you don’t have time to go searching in the wild for red raspberries, you can try growing them in your own backyard! The Old Farmers Almanac recommends planting raspberries as transplants in the spring as soon as the ground can be tilled, and there is no longer a risk of frost. Raspberries like to grow in rich soil in full sun, they also prefer a spot that is not partic

ularly windy. Young raspberry plants require one inch of water per week. Once your plant is matured and producing fruit, it will need to be pruned each year after harvest. Raspberries are perennial plants but the individual fruit producing branches of each bush have a two year life cycle. The first year they grow vegetatively and in the second they produce fruit. The fruit producing branches only produce fruit once, in their second year of life, so at the end of each harvest season each fruit producing branch needs to be trimmed to make way for the new fruit producing branches.

Once you are finally ready to reap the rewards of your labor, you can enjoy them many different ways, perhaps through one of the recipes from my demonstration that I’ve included below! For those of us who don’t want to wait, it is currently raspberry season and you can find them at your local farmers markets and farms! If you intend to get them at a farmers market be sure to get there early before they sell out! Fruit always goes fast. Raspberries can be kept in the fridge for a few days, or if you have a large bounty you can freeze them in a single layer on a baking tray and then throw them in a bag to preve

nt clumping. You can pull them out in the winter to throw in scones, muffins, other baked goods or smoothies just to mention a few things!

Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade

Ingredients
12 oz fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh lemon juice , chilled
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup granulated sugar (or to taste)
1/2 cup honey1 liter (33.8 oz) sparkling water or club soda, chilled
Fresh mint and ice , for serving

Instructions

1. Place raspberries in a food processor and pulse until well pureed. Force raspberry puree through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.
2. In a large pitcher (if you don’t have one large enough you may need two) whisk together water and sugar until sugar has dissolved. Pour in honey and mix until blended. Stir in raspberry mixture and lemon juice then pour in club soda and stir once. Serve with ice and fresh mint.

Fresh Raspberry Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
6 ounces fresh raspberries, washed1 tablespoon Pompeian Red Wine Vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
honey to taste (optional)

Directions:
1. Push berries through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl, first with fork (to mash) and then with the back of

 a spoon to push all the fruit through. If a few seeds squeeze through it’s no big deal. This should yield about 1/2 cup of raspberry puree.
2. Using a fork or a small whisk, whisk in Pompeian Red Wine, olive oil, and salt, pepper and honey if desired. Taste and season again as needed. Store in fridge until ready to use or for up to one week. The oil may harden a bit in the fridge, so plan to leave it out on the counter for about 30 minutes prior to use. Or you may gently warm it in the microwave (10 seconds should suffice).

https://www.almanac.com/plant/raspberries

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-raspberry.html

Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plans and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America, Steven Foster and James A. Duke

Body into Balance an Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care, Maria Noel Groves

Jess’ Post: Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

The summer months are so exciting when you have a spread of fresh produce you get to bring home and enjoy from your garden or your local farmers market, but unless you know the proper storage techniques for your produce then they can go from fresh to supermarket drab in just a couple days. Learning how to best store your fresh vegetables so they stay fresh for as long as possible is the key to having a delicious summer with your favorite foods. Below I have taken a handful of vegetables you are likely to find at your farmers market currently or soon

and shown you the best way to store and preserve them!

One important tip that goes for most vegetables you get – don’t wash them until you are ready to use them! Garden or farm fresh veggies will stay fresher much longer when placed in the fridge without a rinse beforehand. If you wash them before you plan on using them, when in your fridge, lingering moisture can invade the crevices and cracks in your produce and cause them to age prematurely.

ripe peppers, summer squash and green beans: Store them, dry, in a perforated plastic bag, meaning a bag with some smaller holes in it to be able to air out your vegetables. But before placing them in your bag, wrap them in paper towel to soak up any lingering moisture or moisture that develops during storage and keep them crisp and fresh. You should put them in a crisper drawer in your fridge or place them towards the front of your fridge, away from the freezer for the optimal storing results!

tomatoes: these are best kept outside a fridge actually, but just placing them on a kitchen counter isn’t always the best spot either. If you kitchen is temperature regulated during the summer and never gets too warm, then you could keep your tomatoes on the counter, out of the sun. If your kitchen tends to be warmer, it’s best to keep your tomatoes in a cooler part of your home, like a basement possibly. Tomatoes ripen quicker in warmer environments, but often their flavor and texture is also lost from long period spent in the fridge. Storing tomatoes in a basement on a flat plate so they aren’t squishing each other is how you will maintain freshness in your tomatoes for the optimal amount of time.

herbs: Herbs often get wilted after a few days in storage it seems, but I think I have finally cracked the perfect way to keep them fresh for as long as possible. If stored properly, herbs can actually do pretty well outside a fridge, as well as inside. The first steps regardless are to snip the ends of your herbs and to make sure the leaves are completely dry. Then, in a mason jar or mug with shallow water, place your herbs in stem first so a bit of the stem portion is covered with the water. Now, if you are storing them on a countertop, they can be left like this. But if you will be putting them in a fridge, cover them very loosely with a small plastic bag. These steps will make this difficult vegetable last in your fridge or on counter for much longer than when using any other method!

I know firsthand storing summer vegetables can be difficult. We want them to stay fresh for as long as possible, especially when we are extra busy during the summer months and may not be getting to our vegetables within a short amount of time. These tips and tricks should stop vegetable spoilage before you are able to enjoy them. I hope you found this helpful and will try these tips in your storing this summer!

Morgan’s Post: How to Prevent Food Waste

Buying too much food is an issue that most people deal with. Sometimes you overestimate how much your guests will eat, you want to try something new and you end up not liking it, or you forget about it and it goes bad. Food waste is very bad for the environment because fossil fuels are needed to transport the food to where it sells. If food travels across the country and a majority of the people eat a little and throw it out, unnecessary pollution is added into the atmosphere. Other important resources such as water is wasted on growing the food that is wasted as well. When I have extra food that I know I’m not going to be able to eat I feel extremely guilty about throwing it away. This week I’ve been asking my friends, family, and customers what they do with their excess food and how they prevent it. Below I’ve compiled a list of my favorite ways to not waste!

  • Make Soup – If you keep overbuying meats and veggies you can easily cook them and make them into a soup! If you frequently have an issue with excess food maybe you can have an end of the week soup each week. Soups can often be frozen to eat at a later time when perhaps you don’t have enough food at home or need a fast meal.

  • Compost – If you or anyone you know has a garden this could be a great way to reduce food waste. You can compost things such as fruit peels, coffee grounds, bread, and much more. Maybe you can even grow food of your own!

  • Meal Plan – When you go food shopping, try to have an idea about what you’re going to have each day of the upcoming week. If you can, try to sort out the portions before too. Having an idea of exactly how much you need will prevent food waste and save you money. It can also help to purchase a smaller amount of food, more frequently. If your schedule often changes, try meal planning for the next three days and purchase only what you need in that time.

  • Donate – On Thursdays the SAMM Van partners with Gather, Portsmouth’s food pantry. The leftover produce is given to Gather for families to take. If you have food that you know you’re not going to use, you can donate to Gather or any of your local food pantries. Most places have a list of items in demand and what they usually accept.

  • Preserve– Similar to making soup, try to find ways to extend the life of food at home. Can you dry it, freeze it or can it? You can freeze veggie scraps and extras to make a stock later. Herbs going bad? Try drying them for your own herb mixes! Not going to get to the pork chops you purchased for dinner? Freeze them for a future meal!
  • Shop at Home- Every now and then, shop at home! Check the freezers and pantry for items you may have forgotten about and create meal plans around what you already have rather than buying more.

I recently started working long hours and usually eat at work, so I’m beginning to see the amount of excess food increase in my cupboards and fridge. I haven’t been eating some of the food I thought I would when I originally bought it, and some may go bad before I plan out something to do with it. This week I’m doing my part in preventing food waste by donating to the Waysmeet Center in Durham, NH. I’ve attached a picture of the foods that I’m giving away. Moving forward I’m definitely going to use some of the suggestions I received, especially meal planning!

Melissa’s Post: Strawberry Coconut Cream Dip

Strawberry season is almost gone as quickly as it came, and sadly, there isn’t much time to enjoy fresh, locally grown strawberries, except maybe for strawberries from Applecrest Farm, who was the only farm to have them this market. (But that does mean that my FAVORITE season, raspberry season, is just about to begin!) In light of that, at this past market in Portsmouth, I decided to play an ode to the strawberry one last time by sampling a strawberry and coconut cream fruit dip. I adapted the recipe from Fit Foodie Finds, which was already pretty simple in itself, to make a smoothie-like consistency that could be drunk like a smoothie or dipped into with pita chips or fruit. (While I used Truwhip instead of Kefir, I think in hindsight the Kefir is better to use to add some tanginess to it, and also be able to whip the dip into a thicker, fluffier consistency than I was able to get with just coconut cream and Truwhip.) What a good way to keep cool with the upcoming heat wave next week! Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts:

Per 4 Tablespoon Serving: 100 calories, 8g fat (8g saturated fat), 0g fiber, 4g carbohydrates, 2g protein, 1mg cholesterol, 3g sugars, 25mg sodium

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1 cup kefir
  • 1 can (1.5 cups) coconut cream (Note: coconut milk and coconut cream are not the same thing! The both can be found in the Asian/Middle Eastern section of most grocery stores; I was able to find some at Market Basket pretty easily)

Instructions:

Blend strawberries and kefir in a blender or magic bullet until smooth. Transfer into a large mixing bowl, and add a can of coconut cream. Using a wooden spoon, mix thoroughly until completely combined. Refrigerate for at least two hours, then whip with a handheld mixer until fluffiness/thickness desired. Serve cold with fruit or pita chips.

Jessica’s Post: Pico de Gallo, with heirloom tomatoes!

One of my favorite nights when at home with my family is taco night! Whenever my family and I are lucky enough to get a sit down meal together, one of the first things that will come to mind to make for dinner is tacos. Before starting the prep for our dinner, I was wondering what would be the perfect way to incorporate fresh produce I had on hand into this meal. That’s when I decided to make pico de gallo. It’s so easy to put together, consisting of just a few ingredients and is the most delicious taco topper. To make this recipe I used heirloom tomatoes purchased from Mckenzie’s Farm at the farmers market in Dover, NH. I got the cilantro used in the recipe from the Saco, ME farmers market at a farm called Bumbleroot Organic Farm, located in Windham, ME. If you are local to the New Hampshire area, cilantro can be purchased from Fat Peach Farm which sells at the Dover farmers market also. Below is the recipe that created the perfect topping to my summer tacos.

Summer Pico de Gallo:

  • 2 medium heirloom tomatoes
  • ¼ cup of cilantro
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Chop and prepare all ingredients and add to a bowl. Season to taste and let sit in the refrigerator for about an hour before eating so the flavors can combine. Then enjoy!

What I would consider almost a secret ingredient in this recipe are the heirloom tomatoes I purchased from Mckenzie’s farm. What’s great about heirloom tomatoes vs a normal variety is that they are packed with a greater flavor, much juicer, and much sweeter. They also come in fun, rich colors! I have noticed they do tend to be a bit softer than a normal tomato you purchase from a farmers market, despite being just as fresh. I wouldn’t shy away from this tomato because of it’s not as firm. They do have a thinner skin than a normal tomato variety which is part of why they’re softer, but also because they tend to be a juicer variety, making them all the more delicious. If you are used to a more savory pico de gallo, I suggest trying to find heirloom tomatoes at your local farmers market! It won’t be a huge change in flavor but there will be a subtle sweetness to your pico now that will be so mouthwatering. I recommend trying this recipe at your next taco night!

Carlee’s Post: Interviewing Celeste from Seacoast Eat Local!

Celeste Gingras is the Mobile Market Coordinator for Seacoast Eat Local. She is also a co owner of the wonderful bakery, 45 Market Street Bakery and Cafe, located in Somersworth, New Hampshire. I ride the SAMM van with her every Tuesday, picking up and selling produce at various community and corporate sites throughout the seacoast. This Tuesday I sat down with her to gain some more information on the origin of Seacoast Eat Local and the Mobile Market. Read on to find out more!

How/Why did SEL get started?

Sara- Zoe (a founding board member of our organization) had this idea — she believed that local food should be available to everybody, and she was trying to figure out a way to help the people access this food, and at the same time, help the farmer who’s trying to get the food to the people. Her idea was to organize a non-profit that would bridge the gap between the consumer who needed the food and the farmer who was growing the food. She created a board of individuals with a farming background, together starting some of our earliest programs like Seacoast Harvest and the winter farmers markets. She had talked to farmers who said “Yeah! We can grow food off-season!” She started with two or three farmers markets a year, and then it just started to blossom. She was creating a reason for farmers to grow more and a reason for consumers to get more local food throughout the year.

So- before Seacoast Eat Local was an organization, there were no winter farmers markets?

No, there weren’t any winter farmers markets in New Hampshire that I know of.

And at what point did you get involved?

I want to say it was about 5 or 6 years after Seacoast Eat Local was started that I joined the board. I was on the board for about 7 years then I stepped dow to apply for my current position.

How did you get your current position with Seacoast Eat Local? 

Sara Zoe and a bunch of other people had always thought,“Wouldn’t it be amazing if we had a vehicle that we can drive to the people instead of the people having to come to us?” But it seemed like a fairytale. I was on the board at the time and Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare had approached us about their mobile farmers market program because they were seeking a site in New Hampshire. Due to the larger population on the Seacoast and the considerable work of SEL, we were one of a few likely candidates to take on the project. At first, we felt that we did not have the capacity for this program. At the time, we didn’t have any full time employees, we were a volunteer board doing most of the work alongside part time or seasonal staff.  I was actually part of the hiring committee who was trying to hire someone who could be the Director of Programs. Myself and two other board members went through dozens of applications and interviews before we came across Jill and hired her. We had also hired Shelly by then, our Program Coordinator.

Hiring two full-time, year-round professional staff was a game changer for us. It kicked off what was a very long process, but which ultimately led to our pursuing the mobile market project.  At one point in this process, we were creating the job description for a mobile market coordinator. Writing it, I was thinking “Oh my god, that’d be the best job, that’d be the best of both worlds,” I had been working in farmers markets so long and had great relationships with growers and producers and had a background in social work. I was thinking “This’d be my dream job.”At first, I didn’t say anything to anybody.  I didn’t think I could have the job because I’m co-owner of a bakery with Cheryl, and I was working 75 hours a week already.
After doing months of research, Jill selected a bus, had it retrofitted, and delivered right to Jill’s house. In the meantime I had been thinking I really want to apply to this job, so I decided one day to tell Cheryl. I was nervous to tell her because we already had so much going on, I wasn’t sure what her response would be. When I told her she just turned around and said, “It would be crazy for you not to apply.” So I thought, “Ok this is real.” I decided to call Sara Zoe and ask her to meet with me. We went and had coffee one day, and I said, “I don’t really know how to say this to you other than blurting it out but “I really want to be the Mobile Market Coordinator.” and she was like, “Really? Seriously? Well how will that work?” I said that I had Cheryl’s full support and that we would figure it out, we’ll make it work. So she was pretty psyched about it and the rest is kind of history.

What was it like to get the bus into new towns for community stops?

We started the program the first of August and I had to go out to places and tell people what we were trying to do. Not only was it a new program for us but no one had seen anything like it before in New Hampshire. I went to city municipalities and they were like “You’re going to be a food truck?” It was hard to explain what we were, and many towns and cities had no category for what I was about to start. Each town or city has their own policies, and I had to learn how to jump through all those hoops.

What goes into the selection process for these stops?
As an organization, we have identified areas that are considered food deserts or ones that have reduced access to local foods for a variety of reasons. When you are somewhere, you want to be in a smart place so people can either see it or get to it. We try to go to areas that have no access or very low access to fresh local foods. It can sometimes take time to catch on in a new location in the beginning because the word hasn’t reached the people. It’s always great to have community partners to help me spread the word.

Where does the produce for the truck come from?

     All of our produce comes from local farms. Some of the farms I use include Riverside Farm in North Berwick, Garen’s Greens in North Berwick, Brandmoore Farm in Rollinsford, Barkers Farm in Stratham, Card Farm in Madbury, Kellie Brook Farm in Greenland, Diamond B Farm in New Durham, Sugar Momma’s Maple Farm and Short Creek Farm in Northwood, and Stout Oak Farm in Brentwood. Just to name a few! Virtually all of the product comes from within 30 miles of a given stop (in rare circumstances it exceeds this, like product sold in Farmington coming from southern Rockingham County). Over the course of a season we are sourcing from 20-35 different farms. Sometimes this means weekly purchases and sometimes it is based on a specific crop, such as when we work with blueberry farms.

How do farmers benefit from this program?

     In a lot of ways! It’s a great thing to keep the money in the community. For the farmers and producers who are just starting out, who may not be able to afford to hire another person, it saves them the expense of hiring someone to work at farmers markets, and they don’t have to try to sell it, or waste it.


This program helps make local foods more accessible. It keeps commerce flowing in cities and towns and it can be successful for farmers and producers in the area when they know there is a need/ market to grow products for a program like this. So it benefits the farmer and it benefits the consumer. I also think it’s an innovative program, if we can be doing this, so many other people can be doing it too. I really want people to get to know local food. I think it’s important that everybody has the opportunity to access food. It’s not just people who have more money or more opportunity, I believe that food should be accessible to and by everyone.

If you want to get involved, pick up one of the new editions of Seacoast Harvest, which gives a lot of information about our programs and the farmers that are part of our programs, if you’d like to get involved with the mobile market email celeste@seacoasteatlocal.org.

Melissa’s Post: What is Gleaning?

If you have been to our Seacoast Eat Local booth or have been to the SAMM van recently, you might have seen a poster looking for volunteers for NH Gleans. But what is

gleaning, you might ask? Gleaning is the gathering of all edible fruits and vegetables from a farm’s crop plots that may have been missed during picking or were not thought to be suitable to sell. Volunteers work with growers/homeowners and NH Gleans staff to gather the crops off trees, bushes, vines, orchards, and fields, and the gleaned crops will then be donated to various local hunger-relief programs. NH Gleans is a network of organizations who work together to glean all across New Hampshire and provide locally grown produce to food pantries, soup kitchens, community meals, and local schools. NH Gleans is also supported by Farm to School, a program that works to engage many health and food-related organizations in farm to fork/farm to school practices.

            So, who can glean? Depending on the glean, anyone can glean! (Though anyone under 18 must be supervised by an adult and cannot use ladders or equipment, climbing trees is never allowed, and some gleans are more child-friendly than others depending on the age of the child.) You can fill in a volunteer registration form at http://www.nhgleans.org/pickerinsert.php and participate in any of the gleans that are listed, no matter where you live, so long as you can get there. You can bring a friend so long as you register them before the glean (they need to make sure they don’t have too few or too many gleaners for one pick!) and children can accompany parents so long as they are supervised and the glean is appropriate for the child’s age and activity. For every new volunteer, after you register on the site, a page will come up with helpful information about the glean, what you might need to bring, what to expect, and where the glean is. There will be a short orientation about gleaning and what to do, and before you know it, you will be gleaning to help support your local community!

Gleaning can also happen at farmers’ markets and on the SAMM van. In this instance, customers may choose to donate produce (consider buying an extra bunch of carrots or pound of zucchini!) or farms will donate product at the end of the day that they have not sold. On SAMM, unsold product is donated at the end of each week to a local pantry.

The Gleaning network has a relationship with local pantries to schedule deliveries of fresh, perishable product. As a private citizen, you can also donate fresh product to a pantry but you should first consult with a manager or staff person to make sure that the pantry can accommodate it. Sometimes there is a lack of cold storage, a too-long wait time before the next open pantry day or too little staff capacity to deal with the demands of fresh produce. A pantry should always know and agree on a donation of fresh product.

            For more information, contact information, and volunteer registration for NH Gleans, visit http://www.nhgleans.org/index.php.

Morgan’s Post: All about Garlic Scapes!

As someone who used to be a very picky eater, I am constantly learning about new fruits and vegetables to experiment with. This week the SAMM Van offered garlic scapes, which I had never seen before! I was intimidated by the scapes when I first saw them and noticed that a few people had puzzled expressions when inspecting them as well. Because of this I decided to do some research. It turns out that they are the flower part of the garlic plant and that they are removed from the bulbs in order to let them “bulk up” and grow more. If they aren’t removed they can bloom into flowers. They resemble scallions with thin, green stalks except they tend to curl up almost into a circle. Scapes taste like garlic and are a good source of calcium, vitamin C, and protein.

After I learned what garlic scapes were, I was wondering what you could do with them. I found that they are a great add-in to many foods to enhance the flavor such as dressings, dips, and fried rices. Anything that you would add garlic to, you can add scapes to as well. A popular recipe that involves cooking with scapes is pesto. Instead of basil, you simply add garlic scapes (Carlee posted a great pesto recipe last week). You can also have them on their own by grilling them and pouring some lemon juice on top or you can saute them. During my research I found that quite a few people think that the flavor can be strong and pungent. One way to reduce the intensity, according to chef Rhoda Boone, is to boil them in salt water for 30 seconds then place them in an ice bath. From there you just dry them off and cook them how you planned to.

Like many other vegetables, it may be difficult to find ways to store and preserve them. They usually last between 2 and 3 weeks when refrigerated. If you want to keep them fresh and flavorful for several weeks at a time you can chop them up, but them in a bag, and freeze them. After learning how to use them I’m definitely going to add them to my grocery list. The ones we used for our Thursday market were from Brandmoore Farm in Rollinsford, NH. They are in season for another few weeks so swing by one of our markets or a farm in the area to pick some up!