Food science lesson

Farmer’s Market Update

I recently found out that I needed to jury to bring jams and jellies to the Farmer’s Market.  For some reason, I thought it was just arts and craft type products that needed to jury.  I have no idea why I thought this because it is clearly started that processed foods need to jury to come to the market in the Farmer’s Market policies!  I feel just terrible about this and did not mean to break the rules on purpose.  The first step is to obtain a Food Risk Assessment form, fill it out with the items you want to sell at the Farmer’s Market and then submit to the Health Department.  I did this and listed all the jams and jellies that I made.  I also listed dried oregano and a new product that I wanted to bring to the Market, wine salt. 
The Health Department approved the jams, oregano and wine salt but would not approve the flower jellies (dandelion and red sunflower).  I asked why.  See, most jams and jellies are considered low acid foods and are relatively safe for consumption.  Also, items such as seasonings, cakes, cookies, and dried noodles fit into this low acid category.  The Health Department said that they did not know if the acidity of the flower jellies was low enough that it would be safe.  So, I did a little research.  Most jellies/jams have 4 ingredients: fruit (or in my case flower petals), sugar, pectin and lemon juice.  Some fruits are low in acid and so you have to add lemon juice to bring the acidity down (so you do not get bacterial contamination in your final product).  The acid and the pectin work together to gel and make the jelly.  It is my understanding that if there is not enough acid, the jelly will not set properly.  I could be wrong on this matter.  This is my understanding from the little bit of online food science research I did.  The Health Department didn’t actually look at my jellies.  They just looked at the list of products on a piece of paper.
I had made golden and red sunflower jellies.  The golden did not set as well as the red.  I decided not to sell the golden sunflower jelly because of this.  I am confident that the acidity of the red sunflower jelly was good because it was a very firm set.  I asked what I could do to get the flower jellies approved.  They said I would have to have it tested at the WSU Food Science lab and it costs $50.  Not sure if I want to pay this expense…I know there are other farmers with flower jellies at the Market so I am wondering if they had theirs tested?  Or if I pay to have mine tested, then everyone else can bring theirs and not have to pay…maybe if the Health Department actually looked at the product, then they would be more willing to approve the flower jellies.  I would never sell something that I thought was unsafe.
I then took the Food Risk Assessment to the Farmer’s Market.  They said I could bring the jams but not the oregano or wine salt, although these had been approved by the Health Department.  This has been a great learning experience and that is why I wanted to start doing the Farmer’s Market in the first place.  I am mostly upset at myself for not following all the rules.  I try really hard to do things right.  The best part is that I feel that I have a good handle on how to procedure (correctly) next year.     
I am not sure if I will have enough sunflowers for next week at the Farmer’s Market.  This might have been my last week.  I will go out to the farm on Thursday and make a decision…

Varieties are Double Gold, Gold, Lemon, Moulin Rouge, Sunbright/Sunrich, and Bi-color

From the Kitchen

There were lots of beautiful peaches at the Farmer’s Market.  So, I decided to try to can some.  This is something that I have never done before.
Well, let’s just say that I did get some peaches canned but overall the project was a flop.  Maybe it is just because my heart was not into it and my mind was not on task.  It just seemed that most of the peaches were rock hard or way over ripe…I ended up freezing a bunch.  I only have a small canner so it was probably good that I did not process too many jars.  There was water going everywhere because I had it filled to the very top!  So, it’s not like it was a total fail, I have lots of frozen peaches for pies and cobblers but I just disappointed with the quality of the fruit I had purchased.