This time of year I marvel and am so inspired with all the fresh food grown in our mountain valley. From visiting the local Farmer’s Markets (4 a week) to visiting the garden shops and farms, my fridge, freezer (and belly) are brimming with berries galore and a full-on vegetable harvest. Columbia Valley Food & Farm Association created a local guide to help you navigate the valley to find what you are craving. Look for it around the valley and get to know the farmers, producers and retailers who sell and support the local food economy.
The number of local farms is growing in this valley as more locals realize that our land is decent for farming and that there is a demand for locally grown produce. Homestead Harvest took the leap last year and is working with the Environmental Farm Plan as of 2019, growing more produce this year. Their stall, with an honesty box system at the foot of the driveway, is a feast for the eyes and not to be missed. Patti’s Greenhouse in Brisco has grown so much since I came to the valley 12 years ago, offering an abundance of vegetables, fruits, jam and flowers. We are so lucky to have certified organic produce from Edible Acres Organic Farm that offers more than 55 varieties of fruit and vegetables with gorgeous flower offerings as well. Tegart Farm not only grows vegetables and fruit, they have amazing honey to boot. The Old Blue Truck is a labour of love for this family who built a beautiful garden in Windermere. Their yellow raspberries are a family favourite!
Many ‘weird’ vegetables are making a show at the farmer’s markets; who knew garlic scapes could taste so good! Thanks to Edible Acres Farm for that fabulous dip and for the kohlrabi that grows so well here, full of a sweetness that’s perfect in coleslaw. Turnips are another one that is gaining popularity with amazing health benefits and an array of flavours it has depending on cooking method. Red and black currants are available throughout the summer and are such a treat in summer pudding, in a jam or frozen then added to a cocktail. Raspberries of all colours made an appearance at the markets, each with their own distinct flavour. Swiss chard with candied stripes, orange or bright red stalks are being flocked for along with their leaves that carry huge flavour and nutrition. Dare to cook and eat different vegetables this season that you have never tried or think you disliked in your childhood. Eating in season is when this food tastes its best! Freezing summer produce for the months ahead is a great way to savor a bit a summer in the colder months ahead.
The recipes below are family heirlooms and are great way to eat turnips and swiss chard. When I make them, I am often asked ‘What is it?’, in a good way. I hope you enjoy them as much as my friends, family and customers do.
Sterilize a half gallon jar to place these pickles into.
Combine 4 cups white vinegar and 1 cup water; bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and add ½ cup salt to the brine and stir.
Add 1 bay leaf, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 peppercorns and a small stalk of celery and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Peel and slice 3 cups of turnips in 1/8’ pieces and place into sterilized jar. Cover with brine.
Chop up 3 tablespoons of dill and place in the jar before closing.
Leave for 2-3 days on the counter then place in the fridge. Will last 3 months from opening.
Swiss Chard Relish
Sterilize two half gallon jars to place these pickles into.
5 lbs of swiss chard stalks cut in ½ ‘ pieces
5 lbs of organic onions, fine chopped
Sprinkle with a tablespoon of kosher salt and let stand for ½ hour then drain.
In a large pot, place swiss chard onion mixture on the stove on medium heat. Add the following ingredients;
1 quart white vinegar
4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons celery seed
Once cooked till tender the add;
½ cup corn starch
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon powered mustard
Add a touch of cold water to smooth out the mixture as it continues to cook for 10 minutes.
Place in sterilized jars and keep in pantry for 6 months.
Lara McCormack is one of the owners of From Scratch – A Mountain Kitchen in Fairmont Hot Springs where one can savor fabulous, seasonal food, sip from a selection of BC wines and enjoy the views of our gorgeous valley landscape.