Summer is truly upon us in Southcentral.
The fish are running and our gardens, and the fields of the professional farmers, are producing. Now is a great time to enjoy Alaska's bounty. But it's also a good time to prepare for winter.
Wednesday at the Northway Mall Farmers Market longtime Alaska resident and teacher Anna Allen will present the first Discover You Can demonstration on preserving Alaska foods. The demonstration is sponsored by Ball Canning and FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing Systems.
The free demonstrations will cover how to can pickles, fruit jams, salsas and beverages using the hot-water bath method; how to marinate meats, using FoodSaver's new marinade system; and vacuum sealing a variety of items including meats, fish, fresh greens, breads, bulk items and matches.
"Born and raised in Oklahoma, (Anna) spent the summers helping her grandfather in his orchard and garden. Then, when the fruits and vegetables were harvested, Anna would watch her grandmother can them," says Bill Webb, organizer of the market. "When she was old enough, grandma taught her the process. After moving to Alaska, as a young military wife, she made jams and jellies from the bountiful berries and later learned how to can salmon and fresh vegetables from Alaska's abundance. Anna discovered canning is a great way to save money, along with the added benefit of the nutritional value of canning.
"Preserving our Alaska grown vegetables, fruits and fish is a great way to extend summer for your family. We love eating our canned green beans with new potatoes and our canned beets in February. Salmon in December not only tastes good but the memories of catching it and preserving ... make it a sure hit with our entire family. Plus, preserving foods saves money."
Demonstrations are scheduled at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesday and again Aug. 20 and Sept. 17. Each session will last about 90 minutes. There will be door prizes, coupons and recipes. Reservations are not needed.
Duane Clarke of Country Health Foods is adding Alaska Black Cod products to his regular lineup at the markets. Rich Clarke will be at the market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday to talk about the product, which includes smoked sablefish and Copper River salmon. For more information about Alaska Black Cod, visit akblackcod.com.
Country Health Foods will also have local raw honey, salsa, Alaska Sprouts items, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, and breads and cookies made with Alaska barley flour. Look for these items at other markets, including the Mat-Su Market on Mondays and the Eagle River Farmers Market on Tuesdays.
A.D. Farm is highlighting broccoli, zucchini, kale and kohlrabi this week, along with pork products, eggs and barley flour options.
Alaska Vegan & Gluten Free will be at the market with a full lineup of prepared foods, including the return of roasted beets and sweet potato soup. La Grassa will have fresh-cut pasta, including spinach pasta, along with roasted tomato and goat cheese ravioli, ricotta and spinach ravioli, vegan strozzapreti and gluten free pasta.
South Anchorage Farmers Market
It's a full lineup in South Anchorage on Saturday.
After a week off, Rise & Shine Bakery is back at the market with Alaskan potato; spent grain; toasted seed, which includes sunflower, sesame, pumpkin and flax seeds; Kalamata olive; and the fruited almond sourdough, featuring toasted almonds, dried apricots, cranberries and golden raisins. "The toasted seed is wonderful for breakfast toast and as a hearty slice with cheese, while the Kalamata olive loaves make wonderful sandwiches and dinner breads," says owner Alison Arians.
Arthur Keyes of Glacier Valley Farm says to follow your nose on Saturday.
"This week we are seeing the second flush of berries starting to ripen, so expect to start seeing them again at our various locations," he says. "And yes, they smell as good as they taste. I brought a bowl of berries in last night and now the house smells like fresh strawberries."
Also look for Glacier Valley to have zucchini, cucumbers, beets, broccoli, lettuce, radishes, white turnips and loads of Yensis sweet salad onions. The farm will also be at South Anchorage Wednesday Market in front of the Dimond Center Hotel, the Spenard Farmers Market and the Saturday Eagle River Farmers Market.
Arctic Choice Seafoods will have a deal on broken red king crab legs, along with plenty of other seafood options. Drool Central will be at the market and at the Dog Jog at Service High School with fresh-baked cookies, fresh-frozen meals and dehydrated treats for pets. Earthworks Farm will have fresh greens, including Swiss chard, lettuces and kale; broccoli; radishes; cut flowers; and honey and beeswax body-care items.
Spenard Farmers Market
Saturday is Spenard Bike Nation day, a recreational bike ride through the neighborhoods surrounding the market. It is free to participate, with riders expected to leave the market at 11 a.m. and return by 2 p.m. T-shirts are available for purchase and there will be prize drawings.
There are plenty of fresh items from the vendors under the windmill in Spenard too, whether you ride your bike to the market or not. Here are some highlights: Capriccio Specialties will have wild mushrooms, greens and berries; P&M Garden Services will have English cucumbers, assorted herbs and house plants; Chugach Farm will have broccoli, cauliflower, kombucha and pesto; Dinkel's Veggies will have carrots, potatoes, green and yellow zucchini, green beans, cabbage and strawberries; Spring Creek Farm will have New Zealand spinach, sage, basil and parsley; Fire Island Bakery is back with a fresh assortment of rustic style breads, giant cookies and tasty scones; and Brown Dog Farm will have beets, scallions and rainbow chard.
Also look for a filleting demonstration from the Salmon Hook-Up. "(It) is a small set-net operation from the west side of the Cook Inlet," says Cindy Shake, market community and media relations volunteer "They practice sustainable fishing methods and provide fresh wild Alaskan salmon to customers. This will be their first time at the market on Saturday and will doing some on-site quick filleting demonstrations."
Anchorage Farmers Market
Look for the color of summer at the Anchorage Farmers Market, highlighted by dahlia blooms from The Persistent Farmer.
"I had a few last week and this week hope to bring in five or six dozen," says Rob Wells. "Each week will see dramatic increases, so if you can't come early this week, each Saturday in August and September should bring an amazing show of color, size and forms."
And there will be a rainbow of color from Arctic Organics. Well, rainbow chard, anyway, along with escarole, daikon radish, Italian parsley, sorrel, Catalogna dandelion and garlic whistles all as new items.
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at email@example.com.
Local farmers markets
Monday: Mat-Su Farm Market, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Palmer Depot
Tuesday: Eagle River Farmers Market, VFW, 3-7 p.m.
Wednesday: APU Farmers Market, 1:30-6:30 p.m., 4101 University Drive; Center Market, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; Northway Mall Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Northway Mall; South Anchorage Wednesday Market, Dimond Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Wasilla Farmers Market, near Wasilla Wonderland Park, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday: Peters Creek American Legion Post 33 Farmers Market, 3-7 p.m., 21643 Old Glenn Highway
Saturday: Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 15th and Cordova in the Central Lutheran Church parking lot; Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets; Center Market, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; South Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Subway/Cellular One Sports Center at the corner of Old Seward Highway and O'Malley Road; Saturday Eagle River Farmers Market, Mike's Meats in Eagle River, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Spenard Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Spenard Road and 26th Avenue.
Sunday: Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets