Unique Pumpkins for Decorating and Eating

Some pumpkins don’t need carving to turn heads. We just received our second delivery of Vermont-grown pumpkins for the fall season—in every shape, size, color, and texture. These unusual varieties will add a creative touch to your fall display, and a few of them are excellent substitutes in your favorite pumpkin recipes.

Here’s a quick guide to what’s available now in the Garden Center:


Native to Australia, the Jarrahdale pumpkin is a cross between a Blue Hubbard and Cinderella pumpkin. Best uses: Great in any recipe that calls for pumpkin…pumpkin curry, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, etc.


Want to add a little texture (and visual interest) to your fall display? Throw a Warty Goblin into the mix. This orange pumpkin with green bumps is a real eye-catcher! Best use: as decoration.

The
The Red Warty Thing
is a cross between  an American Turban and a Hubbard squash, so it’s really more of a squash than a pumpkin. Best uses: a great substitute in any pumpkin recipe. Try it pureed in pies, soups, and sweet breads. Also tasty diced and roasted like an acorn or butternut squash.


The Galeaux d’Eysines is a French heirloom pumpkin with a flattened shape and salmon-peach skin. The pumpkin’s knobby, shell-like bumps are caused by a buildup of sugar beneath the skin. Best uses: roasted, grilled, baked, sauteed, or pureed in soups, sauces, preserves, and pies.


The Red Eye pumpkin is named for its “almost red” color and white stripes (or splotches). Best uses: excellent for eating, but most people use it as decoration.


Marina di Chioggia has long been a staple squash in Venice, Italy, where it is also known as Suca Braca, or warty pumpkin. Best uses: roasted, baked, steamed, grilled, or use in any recipes that call for pumpkin.


Bet you’ll never guess what this one’s called. The Green Warty Pumpkin certainly stands out in a crowd! Best use: for decoration. We can’t imagine trying to cut into that thick rind!


The Cinderella pumpkin is one of our favorites! And it’s not just pretty to look at. The pulp is creamy and slightly sweet. Best use: tastes great in both sweet and savory dishes.


We love the name of this pumpkin. The One Too Many is said to look like a blood-shot eye, hence “one too many!” Best use: for decorating.

The Garden Center is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

What the Heck Is an Heirloom Apple?

by Kylee, produce guru

In the simplest terms, heirloom apples can be traced back at least 50-100 years;  they’re any variety that was grown pre-World War II and before the advent of large commercial farming. Names may vary by region for the same cultivar, and the trees can reach more than 100 years of age and grow very tall—up to 30 feet high!

In the pre-industrial age, all apple varieties were heirlooms—a relatively recent term brought into use to distinguish them from commercial cultivars, which are carefully bred for certain desirable characteristics, such as storage potential, shape, color, and texture. Heirlooms are often irregularly shaped, vary greatly in size, don’t store well, and are less resistant to disease than modern commercial varieties. There were once 17,000 apple varieties grown in North America, and it  is estimated that only 4,000 of those remain.
Scott Farm Orchard, located in Dummerston, Vt., grows over 130 varieties of heirloom apples.

An extensive orchard was a must for every family farm during pre-industrial days, as apples were an important source of food for folks during lean times. The uses were many: they were dried, fried, and eaten fresh; enjoyed as Halloween treats; and used for baking and making brandy, hard and sweet cider, vinegar, livestock feed, and more.

In addition to their rich history, heirloom apples are particularly important for their genetic diversity. There are only about a dozen commercial cultivars of apples for sale in the U.S., and their popularity lies in their predictable size, shape, color, and taste. That predictability also means they are genetically homogenous and, therefore, potentially vulnerable to climate change or invasive insects. Maintaining rich genetic diversity is important both for future disease resistance and temperature hardiness. Complexity of flavor is a bonus for heirloom apple enthusiasts, which include farmers, consumers, and cider makers.
Shacksbury Cider, located in Vermont’s Champlain Valley, is working hard to resurrect many of Vermont’s lost heirloom apples.

Shacksbury Cider, a cidery located in Vergennes, VT, started the Lost Apple Project in the fall of 2013 to revive the taste and spirit of America’s early cider traditions. They traveled around Vermont to find these lost apple varieties. As they explain on their website: “To us, these trees represent a door to another time, and the basis for superior cider.”

Every season, the folks at Shacksbury Cider identify more of these trees. So far they have sampled more than 1,000 varieties and fermented cider from more than 150 unique trees. They have selected 11 varieties to propagate and have grafted these varieties onto more than 1,000 trees, which now comprise their Lost Apple Orchard. Each year, they expand the orchard to include more lost varieties, giving new life to these old apples.

Learn more about four heirloom varieties, grown at Scott Farm Orchard, that will be available at the Market this fall.

How Your Cookout Could Help a Small Business

This is part of a series of posts sharing conversations with our local farmers and producers. Our suppliers are working harder than ever as they navigate their way through the Covid-19 crisis. Each of their stories is as unique as the products they offer. And more than ever, we are grateful for their hard work, resilience, and ingenuity.

Q-and-A with Vermont Hills Teriyaki

Years ago Patrick stumbled upon this amazing sauce at the local hardware store of all places! He decided to give it a try and was blown away by the flavor. We’ve carried it at the Market ever since. The quality is outstanding … and truly worth the extra cost.

And, by the way, it’s for vegans, too! Amelia shared this tip from Roger, co-owner of Vermont Hills Teriyaki:  Try it on grilled delicata squash. Or anything else, for that matter. You really can’t go wrong.

Here’s what Roger had to say when we asked how business is going:

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of your business?
A. We started selling our sauce at the Rutland Farmers Market years ago because our twin daughters were going to college and we needed to finance our part of their education. Over the years, we’ve evolved to three different flavors in 8 oz. and 10 oz. bottles, online sales, two farmers’ markets, multiple sources for ingredients, and updated labels, as well as more expansive offerings.

Q. What makes your product unique or special?
A. We believe our product is excellent quality with amazing flavor. We use domestic non-GMO soy sauce, garlic and onion and EVO, with no added water or corn syrup.  It sticks right out of the bottle. You can use less and marinate in less time. Our sauce works on most everything; our customers are quite creative foodies.

Q. Who do you rely on as your customer base?
A. Our customers are extremely supportive; many have been with us for years. Lots say they try other brands only to return to Vermont Hills Teriyaki. Many say when visiting families, they ask for them to bring maple syrup and our teriyaki. We have a strong consumer franchise.

Q. How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted your business?
A. We chose not to continue selling our product at farmers’ markets in Rutland and Waitsfield. Although the loss of these markets has cut into our gross income, retail and online sales have increased. We’ve picked up a number of new customers who are ordering multiple bottles, indicating that backyard grilling has increased because of Covid-19. On the production side, obtaining bottles has been a challenge.

Q. What changes have you made to adapt to the current situation?
A.  We’ve increased our online exposure and maintained constant contact with retail stores to ensure that our product is available.

Q. What is your experience as a business owner now compared to before the crisis?
A. In past years we relied on farmers’ markets to increase our customer base, exposure, and income. The loss of these markets has changed our business model, as you would expect.

Q. Has there been a “silver lining” in this crisis for you and/or your business?
A. Yes, our consumer franchise is stronger than we thought.

Find out more about Vermont Hills Teriyaki.

Mixed Berry Muffins Recipe

There’s a short window of time in Vermont when blueberry and fall strawberry seasons overlap. That time is now. So we’re busy throwing berries into everything we can think of, from smoothies to salads to desserts.

This morning we made up a batch of mixed berry muffins, and decided they were good enough to share! Happy baking!

What You Need

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (we used King Arthur Baking Co.)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup granulated sugar (we used 1/2 cup and thought they were plenty sweet)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 large egg
  • Approx. 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Approx. 1 cup of berries (diced strawberries and whole blueberries)

Topping

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

What To Do

  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 6 large or 12 standard-size muffins cups.
  • Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, black pepper, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  • Measure out the oil into a measuring cup that holds a cup or more of liquid. Add the egg and then fill the cup to the 1-cup line with milk. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and whisk until blended.
  • Pour the wet mixture into the bowl with the flour and stir until combined. No need to over mix!
  • Stir in the berries.

Make the topping:

In a small bowl, stir 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar with 3/4 teaspoon vanilla.

Place in muffin tins:

Pour the batter in the muffins tins, dividing equally. Then lightly sprinkle the sugar/vanilla mixture on top.

Bake muffins about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown on top and a knife or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool completely.

We recommend serving in the great outdoors with a pot of tea and good friends! Enjoy!

Wood Stove Kitchen Builds a More Resilient Future

This is part of a series of posts sharing conversations with our local farmers and producers. Our suppliers are working harder than ever as they navigate their way through the Covid-19 crisis. Each of their stories is as unique as the products they offer. And more than ever, we are grateful for their hard work, resilience, and ingenuity.

Q-and-A with Wood Stove Kitchen

This small, family-owned company makes delicious, all-natural mixers that aren’t too sweet and are excellent in summer beverages—both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. And the owners are super nice people. They’ve done a couple of tastings with us (back in pre Covid-19 days), and we just love working with them.

Not surprisingly, they promptly responded to our request for an update on how business is going. Here’s what they had to say:

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of your business?
A. Our founder, Steve, started the business in late 2017 after a career working with the United Nations in war zones and disaster-affected areas around the world. That year we had only one product—our holiday-spiced Mulling Syrup— for making mulled wine and cider. In 2018, we added our honey-lemon-ginger Hot Toddy Mix, which drew a strong following. We decided to expand into cocktail and mocktail mixers in 2019 and have seen our sales grow incredibly well. Our products were in around 85 stores in mid-2019 and will soon be in more than 500 later in 2020. Customers love the fact that we only use truly whole and natural ingredients—and that almost every one of our products has six or fewer ingredients. Plus, they taste amazing.

Q. What makes your product unique or special?
A. We try to only offer flavors that others aren’t doing. Blueberry & Lavender and Grapefruit & Rosemary have proven incredibly popular, along with Strawberry & Basil. Customers love that they can use our drink mixers with or without alcohol—with liquor, wine, prosecco, iced tea, lemonade, or seltzer—and that we avoid sugar or corn syrup and only rely on local clover honey.

Q. Who do you rely on as your customer base?
A. Our customers have impeccable taste 😉 They come from all walks. We find our Hot Toddy Mix and Mulling Syrup at high school football games, as well as at high-end weddings and events in places like Newburyport and Nantucket.

Q. How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted your business?
A. Our products often rely on people seeing our products on the shelf, checking out the natural ingredients, and dropping a bottle or two in their carts. Those single sales have tended to lead to repeat customers and even some online sales for us. That hasn’t happened so much due to COVID-19, and it’s hard to get new customers during a crisis. We found ourselves with a decision—spend big on online marketing in hopes of getting more direct-to-consumer sales or, alternatively, reaching out to shop managers and buyers who (for once!) had the time to actually read the mail. We chose the latter strategy and reached out to hundreds of new stores and were lucky enough to have really grown our relationships as a result.

Q. What changes have you made to adapt to the current situation?
A. We honestly haven’t made that many changes. We added some new products before the crisis began, and we found that those have really worked well for us.

Q. What is your experience as a business owner now compared to before the crisis?
A. I think that this situation really made us stop and look at some things that we thought were stable and predictable. For instance, we found that prices for bottles went up around 60% very quickly and that a lot of suppliers were tapped out. We found that juice concentrates we rely on were suddenly being hoarded by big companies and suppliers due to concerns about agricultural supply chains. This made us work to develop back-up plans and to identify additional suppliers to help us maintain operations. The result is a business that is far more resilient.

Q. Has there been a “silver lining” in this crisis for you and/or your business? . A. Definitely. We took the time to look at what we were doing and to really develop a consistent strategy to reach out to new retail partners. This has yielded some tremendous opportunities.

Learn more about Wood Stove Kitchen products.

Farming for Quality Over Quantity

Pictured is Darrell, Colemann’s right-hand man, after a long, hot day pruning tomatoes.

This is part of a series of posts sharing conversations with our local farmers and producers. Our suppliers are working harder than ever as they navigate their way through the Covid-19 crisis. Each of their stories is as unique as the products they offer. And more than ever, we are grateful for their hard work, resilience, and ingenuity.

Q-and-A with Colemann at Fresh Roots Farm

Few people are as busy this time of year as our local growers. Between farm duties and delivery runs to the Farmers’ Market and other local businesses, Colemann at Fresh Roots Farm in Sharon, Vt. took the time to answer a few of our burning questions. Namely, how the heck are things going??? We’re glad to hear he’s plugging along and keeping the fresh local produce coming our way.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of your business?
A. I started Fresh Roots Farm 10 years ago, farming on two acres of leased land. Now I own and grow on 10.5 acres, including four greenhouses. The Woodstock Farmers’ Market was a purchaser of my produce that entire time!

Q. What makes your product unique or special?
A. Small-scale diversified farming allows my crew and I to set and maintain a high level of quality control. We can’t compete on quantity so we excel at quality.

Q. Who do you rely on as your customer base?
A. The Farmers’ Market store, area restaurants, and local people from the greater Upper Valley. I have found that word of mouth is the original social media.

Q. How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted your business?
A. Several of our restaurant accounts were shuttered, meaning I had to search for different avenues of wholesale.

Q. What changes have you made to adapt to the current situation?
A. Social distancing and masks at our farmers’ market and on delivery runs. Rigorous hand washing and employee inspections on farm.

Q. What is your experience as a business owner now compared to before the crisis?
A. With some adaptation and perseverance, life will go on.

Q. Has there been a “silver lining” in this crisis for you and/or your business?
A. Everybody needs to eat. And consuming nutrient rich foods from a sustainable, local source is the first step in staying healthy.

Want to learn more about Fresh Roots Farm? Check out last summer’s post, Fresh Roots Farm: Small and Mighty.

What Is Hard Cider Seltzer?

It looks like hard cider. Tastes like hard cider. But it’s a little less sweet and a little more sparkly.

Have you tried hard cider seltzer? If you’re a fan of “regular” seltzer and “regular” hard cider, then you should grab a 4-pack and see what you think. Hard cider seltzers are made with fresh fruit, just like regular hard cider, but are lower in alcohol (approx. 4-5% ABV compared to 6.5% or higher for regular cider),  calories (typically 1 gram of sugar or less), and carbs (about 2 grams or  so). And they’re super refreshing … everything you’d expect from a seltzer.

This summer Vermont’s Citizen Cider and Stowe Cider both jumped on the seltzer bandwagon and came out with their own cider seltzers. Citizen Cider‘s “Apple All Day” craft hard cider is aptly named, because it’s a drink you could enjoy right after an afternoon bike ride and again after dinner. They got creative and added some other flavors to the mix with their Ginger Love and Lemon Spritz varieties. Stowe Cider offers four options: The Classic, Citrus Ginger, Cranberry Lime, and Rosé Spritz.

Give them a try and let us know what you think!

 

 

Abracadabra Discovers a Newfound Sense of Community

Antoinette Hunt, co-owner of Abracadabra Coffee Co. in Woodstock, VT, with her newest little helper.

This is part of a series of posts sharing conversations with our local farmers and producers. Our suppliers are working harder than ever as they navigate their way through the Covid-19 crisis. Each of their stories is as unique as the products they offer. And more than ever, we are grateful for their hard work, resilience, and ingenuity.

Q-and-A with Abracadabra Coffee Co.

Abracadabra may be one of Woodstock’s best little surprises. This quiet, unassuming spot on the riverside in east Woodstock village produces some of the state’s best single-origin coffee. You can buy their beans to roast at home or their cold brew cans for coffee-on-the-go. Their coffee flies off the shelf at WFM, and for good reason. Here’s a little bit about this innovative local business and how they’re weathering the Covid-19 storm:

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of your business?

A. Abracadabra was started by Clint and Antoinette Hunt in 2015 on a small tabletop roaster in their home. They grew the business by selling single-origin beans, pour overs, and cold brew coffee at local farmers’ markets. Sarah Yetter joined the business in 2016 and the business moved to Woodstock, VT where it has flourished into what it is today!

Q. What makes your product unique or special?

A. We buy coffee directly from small coffee farms around the world. A huge part of our business is focused on those relationships with producers. This way, farmers are paid a fair price for their coffee directly, and we ensure that we are getting the highest quality coffee possible! Once the coffee gets to us, we put extra emphasis on creating a fun, accessible, and delicious product! We work with several artists to create eye-catching packaging, and in our shop make sure we are always coming up with super exciting signature drinks.

Q. How would you describe your customer base?

A. Our customer base is diverse and amazing! We have a great group of supportive locals, and new customers from all over who find us online or in person.

Q. How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted your business?

A. After the initial shock and panic, we quickly put our resources into finding new ways to reach our customers. There has been so much support in our local community of Woodstock and beyond!

Q. What changes have you made to adapt to the current situation?

A. We put our resources into expanding our online business, offering promotions, and offering pickup options for locals. We have also just opened our shop back up with many improvements for the safety of our staff and customers.

Q. What is your experience as a business owner now compared to before the crisis?

A. We have realized how strong and supportive our community is. We have found so much solidarity just talking with our neighbors, sharing information, and staying connected.

Q. Has there been a “silver lining” in this crisis for you and/or your business?

A. We have really seen the benefits of thinking on our feet! We have a newfound sense of what we are capable of as a business and a community.

Thirty Years of Raising Raspberries in Woodstock

The summer raspberry season is short but oh so sweet! If you don’t make haste, you’ll miss it. And that’s what Ken Woodhead of Woodstock fears the most. That his ripe, delicate raspberries won’t make it into the hands of happy eaters quickly enough.

Ken has been delivering freshly picked berries to the Market for nearly 30 years. Most days in July he makes two trips—once in the morning and then again in the afternoon.

When Ken bought his Woodstock home 35 years ago, he planted 18 raspberry bushes. Now his entire backyard is one giant raspberry patch. Here’s how it happened: Every year the mother plants send out suckers (a.k.a. new plants), flower and fruit, and then die after the fruit is harvested. The new plants produce only foliage the first year; the second year they send out suckers, flower and fruit, and the cycle begins again. And again. And again.

Ken says he usually waits until the spring to clear out the second-year cane that has died away. This is completely understandable, given how hard he works putting his raspberry patch to good use during the growing season.

It’s a big responsibility. Ken, who has a long history in the culinary arts, compares raspberries to other delicacies, like mushrooms and herbs, with a short shelf-life. You have to enjoy them right away, while they’re fresh, because they simply don’t last. And this is what makes raspberries extraordinarily special.

So how much time do we have left? The summer raspberry season in central Vermont just reached its peak, so we can expect another three weeks or so of fresh raspberry eating. And then, well, we’ll have to wait until next year.

 

Ever Camped in an Apple Orchard? Fable Farm Gets Creative

This is part of a series of posts sharing conversations with our local farmers and producers. Our suppliers are working harder than ever as they navigate their way through the Covid-19 crisis. Each of their stories is as unique as the products they offer. And more than ever, we are grateful for their hard work, resilience, and ingenuity.

Q-and-A with Christopher of Fable Farm Fermentory

Our friends at Fable Farm Fermentory, located right up the road in Barnard, Vt., use locally sourced fruits, herbs, saps, and honey to make their delicious bottled ciders/wines and vinegars. Their wild-fermented ciders barrel- and bottle-age for up to five years in an underground cave.

Thank you, Christopher, for taking the time to chat with us about what’s happening at the farm right now.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of your business?

A. We started our farm in 2008 as a vegetable farm and began hosting people in the center of Barnard at our CSA. After five or so years, we transitioned up to the Royalton Turnpike to the old Clark Farm (that is preserved by the Vermont Land Trust) and worked with other stakeholders to evolve the CSA into Feast & Field.  In 2015 we transitioned away from vegetables to perennials and cider/winemaking.

Q. What makes your product unique or special?

A. Time. Most of our apples are foraged from ancestor and wild apple trees within a 10-15 mile radius of our farm; our wines are made with native and wild yeasts; we don’t filter or use sulfites, so our products are Living and constantly evolving in bottle. We often age our ciders/wines, and our vinegars are barrel-aged for five years, and at this point are eight years old, so they have some time in them, as well. They are all dry and range from still to sparkling.

Q. How would you describe your customer base?

A. Inquisitive and intentional folks, not limited by dogmatic perspectives of what a “wine” is supposed to be. Those who appreciate dry wines, as well as Living whole foods.

Q. How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted your business?

A. Covid-19 shut down our tasting room and tasting dinners, as well as rocked our Vermont sales and wholesale accounts across the country. Feast and Field also had to be delayed and capped at 150 people this year.

Q. What changes have you made to adapt to the current situation?

A. We’re trying to increase our online sales and get people to come back to the tasting room through different means like offering rustic camping on the farm. (Check this page on their website for more info about camping packages.)

Q. What is your experience as a business owner now compared to before the crisis?

A. We’ve diversified a bit more (we’re establishing a u-pick perennial fruit zone, inoculated shiitake logs, etc.) and have returned to growing most of the vegetables for our dinners ourselves.

Q. Has there been a “silver lining” in this crisis for you and/or your business?

A. An increase in online sales, we’ve been able to put a lot more attention into the farm than in years past, and we’ve been forced to search for new wholesale accounts in different states….one being Texas, which looks really promising.

Learn more about Fable Farm’s farm-to-barn-to-cellar process here: https://fablefarmfermentory.com.