via OPFM

The Oak Park Farmers Market, offering high quality, locally-grown produce, is held in the Pilgrim Church Parking lot at 460 Lake St. from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through October. Call for a free pickup and ride to the Market (Tel. 708. 383.4806). Please call before 2:00pm on Friday.

As we await the annual Corn Roast fundraiser next week (Aug. 10), it is the perfect time to experiment with your peach pie recipe before our Pie Bake-Off (Sept. 7).  Due to the Polar vortex, there will be a limited availability of stone fruit this season. Shop early on Saturday.  We are all about quality over quantity this market season.

A GENTLE REMINDER: Please remember to bring your yogurt containers or storage containers to bring your berries and cherries and fruit home. Keep your bag clean and berries safely protected. We have given out all of our compostable shopping bags, so please remember to grab your bags on the way out of the door, as well as your reusable coffee and water thermos.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Bake Sale: Pilgrim Church Youth Ministry Program, Pilgrim Congregational Church (yep, same folks who make the delightful donuts)

Vendor Update: Sitka Salmon Shares is back with their seasonal individual fish pieces, as well as monthly shares to be delivered to your doorstep. (Line-caught sustainable fishing co-op, fishermen owned).  Smits “The Farm” is back with sweet corn and more Illinois-grown produce — right across from the Info tent.

Children’s Activity: Chicago Botanical Garden–capture carbon in soil and above ground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation

TIPS FOR SAVORING STONE FRUIT

These tips do not apply to most store bought fruit. Market fruit is picked at a different time than store-bought fruit. Since our fruit is not shipped long distances, they are intentionally picked to be sold soon after picking. Many store-bought fruits are hard and harvested early for shipping purposes (not for ripeness).

If you want a few peaches to eat immediately and five to bake later in the week, ask Farmer Kenny Stover to choose individual fruit per your request. Kenny suggests we should refrigerate first and then pull out of the refrigerator a day or two before you want to eat or bake or grill or freeze or preserve. 

Stone fruit stored at room temperature (first) tends to go soft quickly. Kenny does not suggest refrigerating after they have been on the counter for a few days. Peaches, nectarines and plums do not continue to ripen naturally, once they are picked. Some people speed up the ripening process by placing fruit in a paper bag on the counter top. If so, please check a few times a day, so they do not get soft and mushy. I have not had success with this bag process, as it seems to ripen too quickly. In Oak Park, we have Farmer Kenny to help pick our fruit to suit our needs so we do not need a paper bag. Follow his customized instructions at time of purchase. We are so fortunate to have guidance from experts.

At OPFM, you have the luxury of asking one of the following fruit farmers about ripeness and timing: Farmer Kenny Stover (Stover & Sons), Farmer Brad (Barry’s Berries), Farmer Jim Hardin (Hardin Farm), Farmer Robert Johanson (Johanson’s Apple World), Blaine (Ellis Farms), Farmer Phonso (filling in for Farmer Walt Skibbe who has health issues), and Farmer John (Nichols Farm & Orchard).

Some of these vendors accompanied their parents at OPFM as children. Some grew up in our market, so to speak. They know everything you need to know about fresh fruit. They all have grown up farming and learned from their parents and grandparents.

Get creative with stone fruit.

  • Grill halves and serve with a dollop of ice cream or yogurt.
  • Preserve stone fruits by canning them (in jam, syrup or salsa) to enjoy the taste of the Market year-round.
  • Dried fruit is the best snack. Bake the fruit slices at 200 Fahrenheit for about 3 hours, turning every 30 minutes or so, until dehydrated yet still soft and store in refrigerator.
  • Freeze fruit for multiple purposes. Lightly poach halved and pitted fruit in water (sugar optional), portion and freeze for later use in smoothies, desserts or fruit sauce for pancakes and waffles.

Also, the sweet corn is extraordinary this season and was well worth the wait. Choose from the different varieties. Each farmer offers their own type of sweet corn. Create summer chowder out of Sitka Salmon’s fish (they are the alternate vendor this week) and corn. The summer bounty is finally here and it is the ideal time to savor the bell peppers, summer squash, tomatoes, and zucchini.

Every week we offer sustainable & healthy meat, eggs, small batch gourmet cheese, specialty items, baked goods, artisanal breads, knife sharpening, live roots/folk music, church donuts, fresh produce, grains and milled products, microgreens, cut flowers, plants, herbs and a plethora of fresh produce.

MARKET READY RECIPE: Blueberry Peach Shiver by Conne Ward Cameron 

Enjoy this juice-based fruit salad by preparing ahead of time for your celebrations or as a special treat on a hot summer day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Cups market peach juice
  • 1 (1 ounce) package unflavored gelatin, such as Knox, or 2 (.3-ounce) packages unflavored Jel Dessert (vegan gelatin)
  • 1/2 Cup crushed ice or small ice cubes
  • 1 Cup fresh market blueberries
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped Market mint
  • 2 market peaches (or nectarines), peeled and chopped.

Preparation:

In a small pot, bring juice just to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in gelatin until dissolved; transfer to a large heatproof bowl. Stir in ice until completely dissolved, and then stir in blueberries, mint and peaches. Cover and chill until firm, 4 to 6 hours, or overnight.

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