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August 17, 2019

7/18/2019 7:28:00 AM
Hodag Farmers Market report: Summer berries
Cassie Shefchik
Special to the River News

The morning dawned warm and clear while the temperature slowly rose to the high 70s. I grabbed two foraging buckets (just ice cream buckets, nothing fancy) and headed to the field to see what was ready to harvest.

My course of harvest was soon realized when I found ripe, wild strawberries. My goal became to fill only two layers of the bottom of one bucket, with wild strawberries being so small. I had hoped the resident mosquitoes would be the kind that like to slumber until noonish but a late night thunderstorm meant a new hatch was eagerly awaiting its first meal. Harvesting foodstuff means not wearing any kind of mosquito repellent anywhere on your body or clothing. Just the simple act of brushing away a flying blood sucker from your face or arm can transfer repellent to one's fingers. I don't know of anyone who wants to ingest DEET.

After a successful picking, I looked like a human sieve when I entered the house. Red welts became increasingly itchy as I cleaned the small red gems and began the juicing process. After the juicing process was finished I hopped into the shower to relieve my discomfort: the best path to reduce the itching of mosquito bites.

I had decided the wild strawberry juice would be added to another berry I had recently harvested and juiced. Many of the vendors who can homemade goodies often come up with unique combinations. Some combine flavors so they can make a bigger batch, others do it because they have a lot of one thing and combining different flavors gives more variety.

There are many rules that govern what vendors can and can't bring down to market. Most of the vendors are only able to can things to sell that were grown and harvested in their own gardens, wild picked, or free picked (save one vendor who is governed by the state as to what they can use in their state certified kitchen). No one is allowed to buy at a Pick-Your-Own produce place, make something from it and resell it, but there are a couple vendors that grow their own domestic strawberries. All vendors who sell home-canned goods take great care to follow rules laid down by the UW Home Extension.

What kind of unique flavor combinations can you find at the Hodag Farmers Market? One vendor has blueberry/rhubarb jam and spruce tip/ blueberry jam. Another has mixed berry, berry/peachy, and a wonderful strawberry, balsamic and black pepper combo. You can also find raspberry/current jelly and an apple pie jelly. At the Apple Butter stall you'll find Blupple, CherrApple, and Strapple. And another vendor has crabapple/sumac jelly, sumac/plum jelly, and honeyberry/wild strawberry jelly.

The Hodag Farmers Market is held at Pioneer Park on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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