Thirteen Vermont Crafters Win National Food Awards

by Amelia

We’re so proud of our Vermont food crafters! Thirteen companies in the Green Mountain State won awards in last week’s national Good Food Awards competition

Each year the Good Food Foundation offers an award for the best products in a number of categories. In 2020 there were over 2,000 entries for judging and a total of 276 winners in 17 categories. As a buyer, it’s thrilling to discover the best of the best, to learn about companies from all over the country, and to bring these amazing products to our customers.

Along with product taste and appearance, Good Food Award winners meet high standards around ingredient sourcing and environmentally sound agricultural practices. You’ll recognize most, if not all, of the names on the list. We are honored to carry many of these amazing products at the Market.

Here is a list of the Vermont winners, plus the product that took the prize and its category (click on the link to try them for yourself!):

  • All Souls Tortilleria (Burlington): Hearty Heirloom Corn Tortillas — Grains

  • Babette’s Table (Waitsfield): Finocchiona — Charcuterie

  • Mad River Distillers (Waitsfield): Revolution Rye — Spirits

  • Mount Mansfield Maple Products (Winooski): Pure Organic Vermont Dark Robust Maple Syrup — Pantry

  • Republic of Vermont (Goshen): Vermont Wildflower Raw Honey — Honey

  • V. Smiley Preserves (Bristol): Black Velvet Gooseberry Summer Flowers Honey Jam — Preserves

The Market has been a member of the Good Food Merchants Alliance for many years. I can remember the first Good Foods trade show—called the Mercantile—that I went to, in 2016. A jaded veteran of many food trade shows, I was struck by the quality, integrity, and originality of the products on offer, and by how many foods I fell in love with and wanted to carry right away. In the years since, I have attended many more GF Mercantiles and the experience is the same every time—amazing foods made by real people with quality ingredients, great missions, and no compromise.

It is a tremendous honor to be one of the 20 independent retailers who make up the Merchant’s Alliance. Our group is made up of the best retailers in the country, from San Francisco to Philadelphia and in between. We share ideas and resources; rely on each other for advice and encouragement; and work together to champion and promote all the amazing food crafters who put their passion into the fantastic products that they make.

How to Store and Preserve Your Citrus

It happens to the best of us. We dig into that bowl of gorgeous citrus fruits on our kitchen counter and pull out a green, moldy orange. What went wrong?

Here are a few things you can do to keep your citrus fresh:

Purchase ripe, in-season citrus

“Know what’s in season during citrus season,” advised Luke, our produce guru. You want to buy the freshest fruit possible, and every type of citrus has its season. Right now, fresh off the truck from California, we have the following organic fruits: Minneola, Cara Cara, Red and Pink Grapefruit, Navel Oranges, Satsumas, and 2-pound bags of Clementines. We’re keeping our eyes peeled for Honeybells, which are the same variety as Minneolas but come from Florida. They’re usually around for about two weeks, so get them when you see them!

Unlike other fruits, citrus doesn’t continue to ripen after it’s picked. When you’re shopping for oranges and grapefruit, look for a nice color and firm skin. There are a few varieties, like mandarins and tangelos, that naturally have a loose skin.

Put it in the fridge

“Refrigeration for citrus is best,” Luke said. Oranges and grapefruit can last for several weeks if stored properly in the fridge. This means placing them loose (or in a mesh bag) in the veggie drawer and then turning them from time to time to allow airflow. While most citrus can be stored loosely, lemons should be placed in a plastic bag before going in the fridge.

Eat them quickly if kept at room temperature

To encourage healthy snacking, we suggest keeping a few oranges in a bowl on the countertop and the rest in the fridge. As the bowl empties, pull a few more oranges out of the fridge. “The countertop is nice if you plan to eat it within a few days,” Luke said. “Otherwise, it should go in the fridge.” Just make sure that your countertop citrus has good airflow and that you don’t let it sit for too long. And if the room is warm or muggy, forego the countertop altogether. Citrus prefers a cool, dry environment.

Keep it dry

Wherever you store your citrus, make sure the fruit is dry and that you rotate it regularly for proper airflow. Moisture between pieces of citrus is a recipe for disaster. If the fruit comes in a bag, we recommend taking the citrus out of the bag and placing it in a shallow bowl on the counter or directly in the fridge.

Learn about a few unique citrus varieties you’ll find at the Market this winter.

 

Get Your Freshly Squeezed Juice

Every winter Nathan spends a fair share of his time at the citrus juicer, turning right-off-the-truck oranges and grapefruit into fresh juice. Freshly squeezed juice is a great way to stay hydrated this winter, while getting your daily allotment of immune-boosting Vitamin C.

Our orange and grapefruit juices contain nothing but fresh juice. Here’s the ingredient list for each:

Orange Juice: Cara Caras, Tangerines, and Naval Oranges.

Blood Orange Juice: Surprise, surprise … Blood Oranges.

Grapefruit Juice: Pink, Red, and Ruby Red Grapefruits.

You’ll find our Farmers’ juices near the entrance of the store. They sell out quickly, though, so if you miss them on your next shopping trip, check again next time.

Thanks, Nathan!

Help for Casey’s Family

We lost an incredibly bright star at Farmers’ this week. His name is Casey Farrell. He battled cancer valiantly.  

Casey was the epitome of the Farmers’ spirit. Every job was worth tackling with gusto, energy, and positivity. He was always smiling, upbeat, and ready to go. 

I can honestly say, when he began working here, his energy and positivity sent shock waves through the Market. It was infectious—and addicting. Everyone in the store was uplifted. He quickly grasped a job he had never done before—buying and selling produce, which may sound easy, but it’s not. He thrived and excelled being around fresh food and produce. He increased sales. His merchandising was killer.   

I don’t know if I have ever been privileged to know a more spirited, energetic, execution-oriented, happy, do-the-right-thing person—ever.

We have a “Food Fund” set up at the registers to help out his wife Kristi and their 3-year-old daughter Ivy. It’s an account for them to use for Curbside or for stopping in the store. If you’d like to contribute, please just ask.  Also, their Go Fund Me page is still available.

Words cannot describe the heartache here at Farmers’. We are forever grateful for having had his wisdom and energy in our building for the past two years. 

~ Patrick

Which Bubbly Will You Choose for New Year’s Eve?

You know bubbly’s on the menu for your New Year’s Eve celebration. But which one to choose? We have a great selection of sparkling wines from France, Italy, Austria, and South Africa—and a true Champagne from France. Why not grab a few? You get 10% off when you buy 12 bottles of wine.

What’s the difference between all these bubblies? A bubbly wine is only Champagne if it’s made with specific grape varieties from the Champagne region of France. Otherwise, these wines are called Cava (from Spain); Prosecco (from Italy), or Sparkling Wine (from everywhere).

New on the shelf

Organic sparklers: These are super fun and tasty! Fuso Spuma Frizzante and Flora Col di Luna are frothy, fruity, and very drinkable.

Mini bottles: If you don’t need a full bottle, we have mini bottles of brut and rose sparkling wines—Hillinger Secco Rose and Grand Cortage Brut and Rose.

South African bubbly: This is Amelia’s pick for New Year’s—Graham Beck Brut from South Africa. 

Champagne: We have three true Champagnes on the shelf. New to the Market this season—Jean Laurent Blanc de Noirs.

Cheers to health, good food and drink, and community! Happy New Year!

Farmers’ Pantry Part II: 12 (More) Pantry Essentials

We’re all cooking at home more than ever. Along with your staples, we believe every pantry should be stocked with items that add a sense of creativity and adventure to “typical weeknight meals” and make weekend meal-prep more fun than going out! 

This fall we’ve been spotlighting some of our favorite pantry items to help you make the most of your time in the kitchen. (If you missed it, here’s Farmers’ Pantry: Part I). 

STOCK IT

Pantry staples are simple, versatile items used in everyday cooking, with a long shelf life. Here are six classic ingredients we think belong in every pantry: 

Fish sauce: While we love winter comfort food, sometimes we crave a meal of crispy vegetables and tangy flavors! Stir fry is the perfect antidote. Our favorite Asian stir fry recipes include equal parts (about 1 tbsp each) fish sauce, hoisin sauce, and oyster sauce, along with lots of fresh veggies, ginger, and garlic. Fish sauce, a staple in Southeast Asian cooking, is what gives Asian recipes their umami—meaning “pleasant, savory taste” in Japanese. It’s the perfect pantry item because it stays good for several years and gives a flavor boost to anything from pasta sauces to marinades to soups. 

Chicken broth: Winter cooking includes delicious stews and soups to warm you up after a brisk walk or ski. And a flavorful chicken broth is a key ingredient in any soup or stew recipe.Aneto Naturalchicken broth is a nice alternative to homemade. Made with free-range chicken and whole vegetables and simmered at low heat in massive pots for over 3 hours. No flavor enhancers, fillers, or additives. 

Cornbread Mix: Cornbead is a tasty and hearty accompaniment to your favorite winter comfort foods. But any ol’ cornbread mix won’t do. We recommend a mix made with stone-ground (and organic, if possible) cornmeal, like Bob’s Red Mill, for extra texture and that delicious corny flavor. Plus stone-ground has more nutrients than regular cormeal. You can also use Bob’s Red Mill cornbread mix for cornmeal muffins. Enjoy with a pat of butter and your morning eggs!

Marinara sauce: If you don’t have a few jars of marinara in your pantry already, now’s the time to stock up! The holidays are here, and there will be nights ahead when you just want a simple, no-fuss meal. Pasta with marinara sauce is our favorite go-to. But it has to be a GOOD marinara sauce. That’s why we love Ooma Tesoro’s marinara sauce, made in small batches without sugar or preservatives. It really is as good as homemade. This family-owned business is located in western Massachusetts. So while not technically local, they’re close to home!

Dried beans: First of all, we love Rancho Gordo because their heirloom beans are purchased directly from small farmers in Mexico and California. Everyone wins: the farmers are able to pre-sell their crops and keep these varieties in production, and we get to enjoy beans we otherwise wouldn’t have access to. 

Pasta: Amelia’s favorite pasta! Every pantry needs a decent stock of pasta. But all pastas are not created equal. Cipriani pasta is an egg pasta made in Italy with organic wheat durum semolina, which is higher in protein, fiber, and gluten than regular pasta. We love it’s hearty texture and earthy aroma! Perfect for  stroganoff and a rich ragu.

ELEVATE IT

Ready to expand your flavor horizons? These six items are for the home cook who’s looking for long-lasting ingredients that will give their dishes an extra zing.

Grilled artichokes: These grilled artichoke halves are delicious! During the holidays, we like to keep a few “instant appetizers” on hand. And this little jar of deliciousness is hard to beat. Marinated artichokes are both tasty and super versatile. Eat them plain, toss them on a salad, or incorporate them into pasta or chicken dishes. 

Pine nuts: Pine nuts add texture and a buttery richness to all kinds of foods, from your favorite Italian and Mexican dishes to green salads and desserts. During the holidays, we love roasted pine nuts in our favorite veggie sides. They’re excellent tossed with green beans (and a little lemon juice, minced garlic, & olive oil). Or sprinkled over roasted brussels sprouts. Or even incorporated into your family stuffing recipe. 

Preserved lemons: Preserved lemons are lemons that are salted, packed, and fermented in jars. They’re beautiful to look at, and they’re also super versatile and easy to use. They’re delicious in dressings, marinades, and sauces for pasta, meats, and poultry; pair wonderfully with braised vegetables; and add a bright, citrusy flavor to relishes and salads. Les Moulins are handmade in Tunisia. 

Tahini: We can’t get enough winter squash this time of year. But we tend to use the same seasonings, as yummy as they may be, every single time. Enter tahini. Mix up a batch of maple tahini dressing (1/4 cup tahini, 1.5 tbsp maple syrup, 1.5 tsp apple cider vinegar, and 1 tbsp lemon juice) and drizzle it over roasted vegetables and fall salads. Soom’s sesame organic tahini is made with single-sourced organic Ethopian White Humera sesame seeds. 

Cured Sumac: Cured Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice that adds a citrusy flavor to side dishes, meats, salads, and even desserts! It’s a great way to add a lemony accent to roasted vegetables. Toss your favorite seasonal veggies (carrots, brussels sprouts, winter squash, red onion, etc.) with a mix of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, cured sumac, and kosher salt; roast at 400 degrees for about a half hour; and voila! A delicious, healthy accompaniment to any winter meal. Burlap & Barrel source their sumac from Gaziantep, Turkey, where it’s chopped and preserved in salt (as opposed to being dried). 

Capers: Capers are a staple in the Mediterranean diet and make a great addition to salads, sauces, and dressings. They’re actually an edible flower bud, harvested from the caper bush, and are jam-packed with nutrients (like vitamin K) and health-benefiting properties—often used for improving liver and heart function. Laurel Hill’s organic non-pareil capers (the smallest and most delicate variety of capers) are grown on the hillsides of Spain.

 

Cranberry Relish Recipe

While there are lots of recipes for cranberry relish out there, many are for purists. You know the ones: cranberries , sugar, and maybe a little orange. We prefer a relish that includes a variety of fruits representing the autumnal bounty!

Whichever you prefer, starting with fresh cranberries is a must, and Vermont Cranberry Company produces some fine berries on their pristine farmland in northern Vermont.

What You Need:

  • 1 pound of fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 ½ cups of sugar
  • Orange zest from 1 orange
  • 1 whole orange, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 cup apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup pear, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup of golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  • In a medium-size heavy saucepan, combine cranberries and water. Cook over medium heat until cranberries burst, about 15 minutes.
  • Add all other ingredients, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 30 minutes.
  • Pour finished cranberry mixture into a bowl and stir in the nuts.

Cranberry Relish may be made up to two weeks before Thanksgiving—refrigerate covered. You may also freeze for up to 6 months. While the relish is great with roast turkey and chicken, it is also wonderful as a spread for sandwiches, mixed with softened cream cheese for a quick holiday dip, or spooned over yogurt.

Every Penny Counts: Helping Our Neighbors in Need

One in four Vermonters will experience food insecurity as the Covid-19 crisis continues on, according to a recent UVM stateside survey. We find this statistic deeply troubling. So, with the support of our amazing customers, we’re doing what we can to help our neighbors in need. Together, we can make a real impact.

We recently kicked off our 15th annual Harvest for Hunger campaign. The fundraiser helps buy fresh produce for the community food shelves in Woodstock and Reading/West Windsor. Last year we launched a similar program at our new location in Waterbury, Vermont, with proceeds going to the Waterbury Area Food Shelf.

Thank you to everyone who has opted to round up at the register (sometimes multiple times per day) or have left donations in the collection boxes. In 2019 we collected $8,486 during the campaign, and with the increased need due to Covid-19, we’re hoping for another successful year. We’re excited to report that one week into the 2020 campaign, we’ve already raised over $1K.

“WFM sees a real need to have fresh produce available for those who come to the food shelf,” said Steve Moyer, former WFM partner who headed up the program during its first 14 years. The produce team takes time when placing orders to ensure a nice selection of fresh, seasonal items. Every two weeks, from November to May, food shelf volunteers pick up their delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables at the Market.

How It All Began

The campaign has been a holiday tradition at the Market for over a decade. It all started in 2006, when we put out collection boxes at the cash registers with the pledge to match whatever funds were donated to buy fresh produce for the community food shelf. The program was called “Penny Power.”

Long-time food shelf volunteer Diana Brown helped spearhead the program in 2006 and has been involved ever since. “For many neighbors in need, adding fresh produce to their shopping lists in winter in Vermont is a luxury they can seldom afford,” she said. “Even though active food pantries keep nonperishable staples on the shelves, fresh vegetables and fruits are preferred by most visitors and provide the best nutrition.”

How You Can Help

During Harvest for Hunger, every time you choose to round up at the registers or place a donation in the collection boxes, you’re helping put fresh produce on your neighbors’ tables. We are so grateful for your kindness and generosity. This year, just one week into the Woodstock campaign, we’ve already collected over $1,000 in round-up and cash donations. WFM will contribute another $1,000 on top of the total donation amount.

When you purchase a paper bag at the register (10 cents for large bags), you’re also helping support your local food shelfs. In 2016, we introduced our Bring Your Own Bag “BYOB” initiative, with the goal of keeping thousands of discarded paper bags out of our waste stream and environment. All proceeds from the program are donated to the community food shelfs. We started the same program in Waterbury last fall.

We feel so fortunate to live in a place where neighbors care for neighbors. Thank you for embracing the spirit of giving this holiday season, and for being the wonderful community that you are.

Amelia’s Picks: Four Bottles for Your Thanksgiving Table

We start planning our Thanksgiving spread weeks in advance. We order our turkey, select our recipes, and prepare our shopping list. The wine isn’t as much an afterthought as it is something we take for granted. Wine is wine, right?

Well, certain wines pair better with particular foods. What we often call “turkey wines” are wines that help bring out the flavor of the turkey, without overwhelming it. The good news is that you’re not limited to one particular variety.

Here are Amelia’s top four picks for your Thanksgiving table.

Bourgogne Chardonnay
Bruno Colin, Burgundy, France
$16.99

Chardonnay is a classic Thanksgiving wine. We prefer French varieties that are lighter on the oak and don’t overpower our turkey. Burgundy, the birthplace of Chardonnay, produces white wines that are restrained and pair well with food. Aged in oak barrels for 12 months alongside Colin’s top growths, Bourgogne delivers a blast of tropical fruit notes, with hints of vanilla and a toasty aroma.

Wild Thing Viognier
Damiano Vineyard, California
$20.99

Originally from France’s Rhone Valley, this unique variety has been catching on in California over the past decade or so. Once again, it’s a great choice for your Thanksgiving feast because it won’t overwhelm the meal. Wild Thing Viognier has a beautiful nose of white flowers (jasmine, gardenia, and honesuckle) mingled with aromas of green tea, grapefruit and orange zest, finished with a light kiss of creamy, vanilla oak toast. Super crisp acidity without being puckery tart.

Aichenberg Gruner Veltliner
Niederrußbach, Austria
$12.99

Gruner Veltliner is a dry white wine that you can find almost exclusively in Austria, making up a third of the country’s grape varieties. It’s a great choice for Thanksgiving, because its spicy, mineral flavor pair well with turkey and vegetable sides. Aichenberg is a well-balanced wine with peppery aromas and delicious apricot, lemon, and apple flavors.

Iapetus Subduction
Shelburne Vineyards, Vermont
$28.99

So many of the components of our Thanksgiving feast are grown and made right here in Vermont. Why not the wine, too? Iapetus Subduction from Shelburne Vineyards is the perfect accompaniment to your holiday meal. This varietal wine is 100% Marquette—it’ll remind you of  pinot noir. Marquette grapes grow well in cold climates like ours and produce a fruity wine that’s low in tannins, making it a great match—not overpowering and super drinkable—for turkey and vegetable dishes.

Looking for a full-bodied red? Amelia recommends Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a ruby-red colored, fruit-forward wine, from Italy’s Tuscany region.

It’s Winestock! Get 15% off cases of wine throughout the month of November.