Preserve produce from the Vail Farmers’ Market for fall and winter (recipes)
If you go …
What: Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show.
When: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sundays.
Where: East Meadow Drive and International Bridge, Vail Village.
Cost: Admission is free.
More information: View a complete list of vendors at www.vailfarmersmarket.com.
VAIL — Wandering the weekly Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show on Meadow Drive, a rainbow of color peeks out from the produce stands — ripe, red tomatoes, the first blush-colored hues of peaches, yellow squash, leafy greens and roasted chilies and the dark skins of plums and cherries.
Now is the time to stockpile these Technicolor treats and preserve the late-summer flavors, from sweet to savory, for fall and winter entertaining.
“I think it’s really great that you can take all this local, fantastic fruit, preserve it and be able to use it in winter or later on in the summer,” said Lauren Smith, owner of Mountain Cupcakes in Vail. “For me, as long as we have it, we tend to go through it pretty fast.”
Smith creates a variety of fruit jams, which she sells at her store in Vail and her booth at the Vail Farmers’ Market. The jams are also used in her cupcake and French macaroon fillings and incorporated into the cupcake frostings.
Tarrin Miller, co-owner of Harvest Colorado, said she loves the opportunity to preserve, pickle and can much of the fresh produce from her and her husband Levi’s farm in Palisade to store for the winter.
“There’s something extremely satisfying about seeing a kitchen table covered with full jars from your garden, orchard and local produce from the farmers market,” Miller said.
Here, Smith and Miller share some of their favorite recipes.
Country-style apple butter
From Tarrin Miller, Harvest Colorado. Yields about 6 pints, or 12 jelly jars.
Miller said she uses gala apples for this country-style apple butter because they are softer and sweeter. The recipe is made in a crockpot, which reduces the active preparation time.
18 apples, cored and chopped (if crockpot still isn’t full to the brim with apples, add more until it is)
1½ teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ cup apple juice
1½ cups sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Nutmeg and cloves (pinch of each for an apple pie taste, optional)
Core and roughly dice apples (don’t worry about peeling them because you will just blend the butter anyway). Put apples, vanilla, spices, sugars and lemon juice in the crockpot. Set crockpot on low, and cook for 8 hours. Mine went for 11 because I let it cook overnight. You cannot mess this up by “over-cooking,” so don’t be afraid of a few extra hours.
When apples are nice and soft and mashing on their own, add them to a blender or use and immersion blender until it’s at a nice, smooth consistency. Do a taste test, especially if you added extra apples. You can add more spices here if you feel it’s necessary (a little more cinnamon never hurts). If it’s not quite smooth enough yet (buttery consistency), let if cook for a few more hours.
Prepare jars and fill, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Place seals on a clean rim, and set in a waiting hot water bath canner. Can according to your elevation directions (at 4,500 feet, my jars boil for 20 minutes). Let cool for 24 hours, and place any jars that did not seal into the refrigerator.
Farmhouse rustic salsa
From Tarrin Miller, Harvest Colorado. Yields about 10 to 12 quarts.
This salsa is simple and easy to make large quantities, or modify the recipe to just make a small batch.
“My family loves sitting around during the winter watching football and eating salsa,” Miller said. “It happens every Bronco game. We never miss it. I also have the two-dozen or so family and friends that automatically expect a jar of this stuff. It’s that good.”
½ bushel roasted Big Jim chilies
½ bushel canning tomatoes (if you like a thicker paste, use romas)
7 white onions
2 tablespoons fresh chopped garlic
½ cup salt
3-4 jalapenos to add more spice (optional)
If the chilies you buy aren’t roasted, use the broil setting in your oven and rotate them until there is a nice char and the skin is peeling. Peel and chop the chilies (I leave most of the seeds, but not all). Throw it all in a stockpot.
Next, boil some water in a large pot and add tomatoes until the skin begins to peel (1 minute). Transfer tomatoes into a sink filled with cold water. Once tomatoes are boiled, peel all of the skins and throw them in a food processor. Do not puree; you want chunks (I pulse it a few times then throw it all in the stockpot with the chilies). Do the same with the onions and the jalapenos.
Add your garlic, and start doing a million taste tests. The heat level will rise slightly as it sets, but if it’s not hot enough, add some more chopped jalapenos. You want to bring the mixture to a boil. Many people choose to simmer their salsa until it reduces and thickens. We don’t like doing that because we love the consistency it’s currently at. You have the freedom here to make modifications.
Once the mixture has boiled, fill your prepared canning jars. Wipe rim of jar, and boil your lids to soften the rubber seal. Place lids on jars and tighten the rings. Place jars in a hot water bath, and boil for 15 minutes. Remember to add 10 minutes if you are 6,000 to 10,000 feet. Let jars set until completely cooled and until they have sealed. If there are any that haven’t sealed, then place in the refrigerator.
From Lauren Smith, Mountain Cupcakes. Yields about 4 to 6 pint jars.
Smith said she loves being able to capture the feeling of biting into the perfect peach and putting that farm-fresh flavor into a jar to be enjoyed long after the fruit is gone from the orchards. Mountain Cupcakes gets its organic Palisade peaches from Jonathon Hieb’s Eat a Peach Farms, another Vail Farmers’ Market vendor.
“Jonathon from Eat a Peach is fantastic,” Smith said. “He gives us the ripest peaches that he wouldn’t want anyone to eat. The peaches for jam, you want them to be overripe. Like when you get an overripe banana, you say that needs to go into banana bread. He makes sure we get the perfect produce to put into our jam, which is cool.”
Mountain Cupcakes just processed 20 pounds of peaches for jam, which they hope to have labeled and available at this week’s market, or make your own from Smith’s recipe.
4 pounds ripe peaches, pealed and halved (approximately 6 pounds raw peaches)
3.5 cups sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
Peel the peaches: Fill your stockpot, and bring to a full boil. Fill another large pot with cold water. Add in a few peaches at a time, and let boil for approximately 10 minutes. Remove peaches with a ladle, and transfer to the cold water; let sit for about 5 minutes. Remove peels (they should peel off nice and easy). Repeat this process until you have gone through all of your peaches. Pit, half, and set aside.
Soak the peaches overnight: Transfer all of your peeled and halved peaches to a large bowl or container. Add sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight. (Note: This can be done and set in your refrigerator for several days if you don’t have the time the following day.)
Make the jam: Slowly transfer the contents of your bowl through a food mill. Make sure to get all that sugar that’s sitting on the bottom; you never know where peach pieces are hiding. Transfer contents to the stockpot. Add the lemon juice. Bring to a full bowl and skim as much of the “foam” off the top as possible. (Note: the foam is really all of the preservatives in your fruit; it looks pretty but not so good for you.)
Continue to boil, stirring frequently, until the jam reaches the desired consistency (this can take a while). The best way to test your consistency is the frozen spoon method: Have a handful of spoons in the freezer, and add a bit of hot jam onto your frozen spoon. Put that jammy spoon back in the freezer until the bottom of the spoon has reached room temperature (a minute or two). Tilt the spoon, and watch the jam move. If it’s the proper consistency, you’re ready to jar your jam.
From Lauren Smith, Mountain Cupcakes. Yields about 5 pint jars.
4 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved
3.5 pounds Sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons champagne (pick your favorite)
Grind the strawberries using a food mill, and add to your large stockpot. Measure out your sugar in a large bowl, and place in the oven for about 10 minutes at 300 degrees.
Transfer the hot sugar into the your pot, and mix well. Add the lemon juice. Bring to a full bowl, and skim as much of the “foam” off the top as possible.
Add champagne. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until the jam reaches the desired consistency (this can take a while; see consistency test recommendation above). When it’s the proper consistency, you’re ready to jar your jam.
Apricot tequila-ginger jam
From Lauren Smith, Mountain Cupcakes. Yields about 4 pint jars.
4 pounds apricots, pealed and halved (approximately 6 pounds raw apricots)
6 cups sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons tequila (pick your favorite!)
¾ teaspoon freshly ground ginger
Take your peeled and halved apricots, and combine with sugar in a large bowl. Cover, and refrigerate overnight. Grind the apricots using a food mill or food processor, and add to your large stockpot. Add the lemon juice and freshly ground ginger.
Bring to a full bowl, and skim as much of the “foam” off the top as possible. Add in your tequila. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until the jam reaches the desired consistency (this can take a while; see consistency test recommendation above). When it’s the proper consistency, you’re ready to jar your jam.
The valley’s commercial and residential property markets are similar in some ways — availability is tight and nothing is what you’d call “cheap.”