ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

A locavore moves from Wisconsin to New Hampshire and rediscovers what "local" means.


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Tomorrow we make The Pie…

11.06 lbs of strawberries picked again at the lovely Edgewater Farm. $2.50/lb. Picked in my own containers – they now charge $1.50 for a wax-coated picking box. $27.67 total. 45 minutes of work.

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35 Pints of Jam on the wall…

Sam and I took the day Thursday to go to Edgewater Farms and pick strawberries to make jam and other good things. We ended up picking 48 pounds at $2.50 per pound. The strawberries this year are the most flavorful, plump, beautifully ripe berries that I have ever picked. With berries this beautiful, it is easy to make fantastic jam.

However, that was not in the works. (/foreshadowing) I had to go to an important meeting and left Sam with a boiling pot of jam and 36 empty jars. Unfortunately, I think the berries were so sweet and wonderful, there wasn’t enough acid to setup the pectin. The jam didn’t set.

Rather than eat strawberry syrup on our toast, I opted to take the 4th holiday to reset the jam. Gigantic PITA. One unintended consequence – resetting the jam requires additional sugar, lemon juice and pectin. I had to add so much that I ended up with an extra jar of jam after resetting. So 35 pints of jam.

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The best pie… EVER

Strawberry Icebox Pie from Cooks Illustrated is the best pie I have ever eaten. Icebox pie is a gelatin-based pie with fresh fruit in a pie shell, topped with strawberry whipped cream. It has all of the qualities of a perfect dessert:

  • Ripe strawberry flavor really shines through
  • Pieces of real fruit
  • Cold, refreshing and you eat it when its hot outside.
  • A positive uplifting note at the end of the meal.

I do one minor variation. I substitute goat cheese for cream cheese in the whipped topping. The slightly goaty and tangy flavor is unexpected in the topping and is a wonderful complement to the fresh strawberries.

My mom used to make these pies when she worked at Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant in Dayton, OH. Seems like it’s still on the menu. No way it can be this good.

 

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The price of my homemade strawberry jam=$0.22/ounce

2015-06-22 08.38.34Here’s the sick thing… I did the math and my homemade jam costs about as much per ounce as Bonne Maman’s high-end grocery store jam: $0.22 per ounce.

I made 30.5 pints of jam, using 34 jars (some were half-pint jars for gifts), inputting 28 lbs of strawberries, 7 packets of Certo pectin and 21.462 pounds of sugar.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Jar and ring – reusable and depreciating resource.
  • Canning equipment – depreciating resource.
  • Canning jar lid. $1.99 for 12 = $0.17 per lid, or $5.78 for lids.
  • Sugar. $2.59 at the COOP for a 4 pound bag = $0.65 per pound or $14.07 for sugar.
  • Strawberries at $2.50 per pound and 28 lbs of berries into the recipe = $70 for strawberries.
  • Certo is $4.59 for 2 pouches = $2.30/pouch so $16.10 on pectin.

Grand total = $105.95 for 30.5 pints of jam. That’s $0.22 per ounce. 

Bonne Mamans jam was on sale at the COOP for $2.99 for a 13 ounce jar or $0.23 per ounce.

I hope some of you are jumping up and down right now and pointing out the serious flaws in my calculation… I don’t take into Labor costs, which was about 13.5 woman-hours. I don’t take into account the cost of my “facility” to produce jam. I don’t take into account transportation, and I’ve discounted my equipment. But hey! My jam is a heck of a lot tastier than anything you’d ever buy in a store. Plus I have a great memory of spending a hot, muggy day in the kitchen with my sister. That’s worth a lot more than $0.23 per ounce.


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Fruit, sugar, pectin needed to make strawberry jam in quantity

I got sick of doing the math every year, so I made a table for large batches of strawberry jam. The recipe is based on using Certo liquid pectin.

Certo Pectin Pouches Strawberries
Pounds
Strawberries
Hulled and crushed
cups
Sugar
cups
Sugar
Ounces
Sugar
Pounds
Yield
Pints
1 4 4 7 49 3.066 4
2 8 8 14 98 6.132 8
3 12 12 21 147 9.198 12
4 16 16 28 196 12.264 16
5 20 20 35 245 15.33 20
6 24 24 42 294 18.396 24
7 28 28 49 343 21.462 28
8 32 32 56 392 24.528 32


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This Week in Veg: I confess… I don’t love cauliflower

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I don’t hate cauliflower, but if don’t love it either. It seems to always be the leftovers from the crudités platter, or the bad cheese and cream soup, or mushy and over-cooked. So, this week it will be a challenge for us to eat an entire head. Our former CSA in Wisconsin didn’t grow cauliflower because it was too much of a hassle, and we didn’t get any in our box last year. So… I can roast it. What else?

Thanks to Sam for taking the pictures. We pickup on Tuesday nights when I am teaching. He’s masterfully taken over the responsibility of photographing and packing away the share in the fridge.