Adds value to homegrown produce
LE MARS – Living on a farm with apple trees producing far more apples than she could use, Nancy Ellensohn looked for ways to use the abundant fruit. Instead of a thinking cap, she found her answer by donning a kitchen apron.
For more than 12 years she has been satisfying her customers’ needs at the Le Mars Farmer’s Market with apple pies, apple crisps and apple butter.
Beginning with apples, she has expanded her merchandise to include eight different jams and jellies. The bulk of the fruit used in her preserves comes from local farms in Plymouth County.
“Raspberries, elderberries, grapes and rhubarb are all grown on this, or on a neighbor’s, farm,” said Ellensohn. “My husband Mark and I have even found blackberries for use in my four-berry jam.”
While a rhubarb/strawberry may be her top seller, raspberry jalepeno is a close second. The apple butter is difficult to keep in stock, she said.
“The apple butter takes 10-12 hours of cooking in a crock pot,” she said. “The end result is worth waiting for.”
Additional baked goods also center around her garden.
“Zucchini bread is very popular,” said Ellensohn. “Sometimes I’m asked what the green flecks are in the bread. I explain that the nutritious green skin of the zucchini is also used.”
She bakes countless pans of rhubarb bars. Ellensohn grows pumpkins to use in her pies, desserts and bread.
“Once you start growing your own pie pumpkins, you get spoiled,” she says. “The taste, the additional fiber – you never want to go back to the boughten canned stuff.” She freezes the pumpkin meat after baking the pumpkins.
“Many of my customers for the baked goods are men,” she says. “Their wives are too busy to cook since many have jobs or children’s school activities.”
August and September are extraordinarily busy months with all the fruit and garden produce coming in. At that time Ellensohn is up in the wee hours of the morning, either baking or canning or picking. Understandably, she spends a lot of time picking fruit. To save time, she often cans or freezes fruit or tomatoes to be processed at a more convenient time.
When the garden is producing the necessary ingredients for salsa, that is a favorite of family and friends. The canned apple pie filling is often used as a Christmas gift for the owners of the houses she cleans. That recipe came from studying several canned apple pie recipes developing one that is a winner.
Ellensohn also has a favorite recipe for a vegetable soup starter. Once again its beginnings lie in the very produce found in her garden. Carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, onions all provide the base for many winter meals.
In addition to the freshly baked pies and jellies, Ellensohn also markets fresh vegetables grown without the use of chemicals on the farm. When their four children were younger and still at home, the amount and variety was greater, she said.
With the help of her youngest daughter Paige, satisfied customers will continue to look for zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkins, onions, tomatoes and watermelons.
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup lard
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 cup water
Mix flour, sugar and salt. Blend in lard. Beat egg. Add vinegar and cold water. Add small amount at a time to flour mixture and mix. Makes 2 double crust pies. Dough will keep for 2-3 days in refrigerator.
2 tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup white syrup
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup pecans chopped
Beat the eggs and add white syrup. Mix. Stir the brown sugar, flour and salt together. Add to the egg/mixture. Stir in the melted butter, vanilla and pecans.
Pour into an unbaked pie shell. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until done.
Canned apple pie filling
9 pounds firm apples
4 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoon lemon juice (bottled)
10 cups water
1 cup quick cooking tapioca (minute)
Core, peel, quarter and slice apples. Combine water, sugar, tapioca, salt, spices and lemon juices in 12 quart kettle. Cook and stir on medium heat until thick. Boil for 2 minutes more.
Add sliced apples and return mixture to boiling and boil for 1 minute. Spoon boiling mixture into hot jars. Filling to within one inch of top.
Place jars in water bath and process 25 minutes for quarts. Remove jars and let cool. Makes 6 7 quarts.
5 7 tart apples
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
2 heaping tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter
Dough for 2-crust pie
Peel and slice apples. Mix all ingredients together except butter. Stir into apple slices. Put into pie shell.
Dot the 2 tablespoons butter over apple mixture. Put on top crust. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Contact Renae Vander Schaaf by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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