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630th St
Menomonie, WI, 54751
United States

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News & Events

Time to Jam

Rachel Henderson

It can be hard to carve out time for kitchen projects during the busy summer, but it can be positively heartbreaking to suffer through cold winter mornings with no homemade fruit spreads for your toast.  It's worthwhile to take advantage of the market season and prepare.  My favorite jams are black currant and gooseberry, and the season for both is upon us! 

If you're intimidated by the prospect of huge batches, pressure canners, and all the equipment, fear not.  Jam can be made in small batches, with nothing more than what your kitchen already contains (except possibly jars, which are easy to find in stores at this time of year).  If even hot water bath canning is out of the question for you, they're also easily frozen. 

I have posted this recipe from David Lebovitz before, but I love it for its simplicity.  It's easily scaled up for the more ambitious, too: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/black-currant-jam-recipe/

Gooseberry jam, in addition to being supremely flavorful, is also one of the prettier things I make.  While this article describes gooseberries as green, we grow and sell a number of varieties, ranging from green-ripe to red and deep purple.  I love to make jam (and pie!) with berries that are at a mix of stages of ripeness, so that there's a tart complement to the sweetness.  http://www.westoftheloop.com/2014/07/13/farmers-market-find-gooseberries/

 

What to do with Currants

Rachel Henderson

While some people feel a nostalgia when they think of picking currants as children, or their grandmother's jelly, for a lot of us, currants offer a completely new set of flavors.  Accordingly, it can be a challenge to learn to use them.  If you like tart fruit, they are great for snacking on.  But here's a few additional ideas:

Red, white, and pink currants are all very similar, and can be used interchangeably.  The red are the most tart, but also have the strongest flavor.  White and pink are more mild, and slightly sweeter.  Black currants have a very different flavor profile.  They aren’t as tart as red, but have a musky or earthy flavor. 

For an easy, no-cooking-involved currant topping, pull red currants off the sprigs and mix them with a little sugar (or other sweetener) to taste.  This mixture will store in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.  It’s great to put on yogurt, oatmeal, or ice cream.  Mix colors together for an attractive fruit salad.  I’ve served this with whipped cream at a brunch party.

Black currants are great as used above, but also work well in savory applications.  Make a lightly sweetened and spiced sauce to put on meat, or serve with a cheese plate.  Put whole black currants in a green salad, especially nice with a goat cheese.

If you like to preserve, red currants make a beautiful and flavorful jelly.  I like to add a little cinnamon to it.  I usually make jelly using low-sugar recipes with Pomona’s Universal Pectin: http://www.cooksinfo.com/red-currant-jelly.   And if you prefer to bake, this looks like a fantastic cake: http://bibliocook.com/2010/08/redcurrant-almo/

Black currants can be a good jelly, but make an even better jam.  Here’s a simple recipe, complete with a lovely tribute to one of our most distinctive fruits: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2013/08/black-currant-jam-recipe/

For a more ambitious baker, black currants offer deep flavor that can make for spectacular creations.  Here's a pair of recipes from Nigel Slater that showcase their special qualities. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/aug/16/nigel-slater-blackcurrant-recipes

Black currant juice is also a great thing to pull out in the middle of winter, and simple to make.  Just put clean black currants in a saucepan and cover with water.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.  Mash the currants if you like (this will make the juice less clear, but won’t hurt the flavor), then strain.  Sweeten to taste if you like, but cooking takes some of the edge off the flavor, and, depending on your tastes, the juice can be nice unsweetened. This can be canned like jam, or frozen.  The juice will be concentrated; we like to mix it with equal parts sparkling water for a natural soda.

2017 Fruit and Apple Shares Available!

Rachel Henderson

We're excited for another year of providing beautiful, organic fruit direct to your family!   

Fruit Share

July-October, $200 (11 deliveries)

  • Weekly July boxes include raspberries, currants (black, red, pink, and white), gooseberries, garlic scapes.

    • 4 pints + of fruit each week.

  • Bi-weekly August boxes includes plums, early apples, grapes, garlic

  • Bi-weekly September-October boxes include apples, 8-10 lbs/delivery, including 3-4 varieties each

    • Optional “Sauce week” that includes 3-4 lbs eating apples and 12+ lbs 2nds for sauce, baking, etc.  

    • September deliveries will include additional fruits as available: plums, grapes, fall raspberries, maybe pears!

Apple Share

September-October, $85 Bi-weekly (4 deliveries)

  • 8-10 lbs/delivery, including 3-4 varieties each,

  • Optional “Sauce week” (likely 3rd delivery) that includes 3-4 lbs eating apples and 12+ lbs 2nds for sauce, baking, etc.

  • Varieties include some combination of: Chestnut Crabapple, Ginger Gold, Dayton, Sweet 16, Jonafree, Haralson, Honeycrisp, Crimson Crisp, Florina Querina, Priscilla, Liberty, Snow Sweet, Keepsake, maybe others!

  • Additional fruit/fruit products in abundance may make an appearance!

 

To sign up, please send us an email and be sure to include where you live, the best way/time to contact you, and your preference for full fruit or apple share.  Delivery sites will be confirmed based on sign-up.  

We can also offer limited workshares for both options.  Please contact us directly for details.

Delivery available in Menomonie on Tuesdays or Twin Cities on Saturdays.  Berries will be highly perishable and should be retrieved promptly.  On-farm pick-up also available.

Looking for an Orchard Assistant in 2017!

Rachel Henderson

We are seeking an orchard assistant for this summer, June-October minimum, but prefer an earlier start date.  Approximately 30 hours/week -- availability on Fridays is essential, other hours are somewhat flexible.  Room and board are available.  We have about 5 ½ acres established with mixed fruit that has been certified organic since 2016, and a new orchard block of apples.

Tasks include

  • Harvesting -- raspberries and currants in July; plums, grapes, and apples in August; apples, pears, and raspberries in Sept-Oct.

  • Sorting, packing, and preparing fruit for farmers market, CSA share, co-op, and restaurant sales

  • Care of newly planted trees

  • Weeding and mulching

  • Pest monitoring

For someone interested in organic fruit production, we can offer opportunities to learn and be involved in other aspects of orchard management.

Orchard/Fruit experience not required, but some farm/ag experience preferred.  Candidates must be able to work outside for 8 hours/day in various weather conditions, lift and carry 20-25 pounds frequently, and lift up to 40-50 pounds occasionally.  Harvesting berries involves kneeling/squatting/sitting for long stretches.  Harvesting tree fruit may require some ladder use.  

Questions can be directed to Rachel Henderson - henderson.r@gmail.com.

Mary Dirty Face Farm is Certified Organic!

Rachel Henderson

We are excited to have received organic certification this week!  Since we started planting our orchard in 2009, we have been following organic standards.  We believe in farming in ways that mimic and complement natural systems, and that it is possible to produce high quality organic fruit in Wisconsin through intensive management practices.  Our choice to certify this year was driven in part by our increasing production, and in part by our commitment to furthering the organic movement.  By certifying, we can help demonstrate to the world that organic agriculture is possible, and economically important!  You can get our certified organic raspberries, currants, and gooseberries at Fulton Farmers Market and Menomonie Market Food Co-op right now, and our organic apples later this season!

 

 

On Sauce and Seconds

Rachel Henderson

As we harvest apples, we sort out the top-quality apples for selling fresh, and save aside seconds, or imperfect apples.  This time of year, we see a lot of imperfection.  We use some of these to make apple butter (that we sell at the farmers market), applesauce for our son (who will eat like a quart of it a day if we let him), or cider.  We'll also bring some seconds to the farmers market, and have them available for sale at a reduced price.

What makes an apple a "second"?  Most of them have a little too much surface blemish, or slight cracks, or stings from an insect feeding on the sugars. Some are deformed where some bug tried to lay an egg in them early on.  We don't sell apples that have been bird-damaged, or where something has completely broken through or eaten away at the skin.  It's not impossible to find a small worm in a 2nd, usually in the core, though that's rare.

Now is the perfect time to save a little bit of autumn's abundant deliciousness for those cold, bland winter days.  Purchasing 2nds makes preserving more economical. If you've never made applesauce before, you'll be surprised at how non-intimidating it is to make, and even to can (though if you don't feel like canning, you can also freeze it).  Here's a straightforward recipe, that requires so special equipment:

http://extension.illinois.edu/apples/applesauce.cfm

Keep in mind that the sauce will taste sweeter while it's warm, so once you've got the texture you'd like, it's a good idea to take out a dollop and put it on a plate or a shallow bowl to cool quickly.  Evaluate the sweetness of this cooled sauce to decide if you want to add sugar (or honey, or your sweetener of choice).  Ditto with the spices, if you're using them.   

Once you've made the sauce, it's only a matter of reducing it on the stove (or in a slow cooker) to make rich and spreadable apple butter.  

I always think that the best applesauce comes from a nice mix of apple varieties, though some varieties make good sauce all on their own (like Chestnut Crabapples!).  When we sell 2nds, we like to mix up varieties, so you can get a lot of different flavors.  With a mix of sweet and tart apples, I never find that I have to add acid (lemon juice) or sugar to applesauce.

If you really need plum ideas...

Rachel Henderson

We're happy to finally have a plum harvest this year.  We've been picking our favorite variety -- Black Ice, developed at UW Rive Falls -- for a week or so, and are starting on LaCrescent, a small yellow variety.  We should have a couple more to bring to market before the season ends.  Mostly, these plums just get eaten up in our house, but here's a link to a few awesome recipes, should you really need one.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/07/nigel-slater-plum-recipes

Great Weather for Pruning!

Rachel Henderson

We started pruning in our orchard at the end of February.  Stone fruits were first -- plums, cherries, and apricots are the earliest bloomers -- then apples and pears.  Now we're working on grapes and currants.  We prune our trees every year to create a tree shape that maximizes sunlight on the fruit (for good ripening) and airspace through and around the branches (to prevent fungal disease).  Grapes set all their fruit on young wood, so aside from the main trunk and cordons, or "arms," we're pruning those every year to renew growth.  This is the first year we're doing heavy pruning on our currant plants -- they produce best on 2 to 4-year-old wood, and now need some serious thinning out.  

It feels great to spend a few hours out in the orchard every day again, and we're getting excited for spring!

Getting Ready for Conference Season!

Rachel Henderson

Rachel will be at the Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference on Sunday, Feb 8th, giving a talk on starting a small-scale orchard or adding fruit to an existing operation.  We'll both be at the MOSES Organic Farming Conference, just participating this year.  We're excited for some great fruit-related workshops and events with the Organic Fruit Growers Association!