I regularly shop at my farmers market and try to eat as much from my area as I can. But I’d like to do more. Can you suggest some ways to drink locally or seasonally?
Fantastic question! This is going to be fun. Let’s pick a drink for each month based on something that you can find grown or processed locally. A lot of these ideas would be easier with a juicer but if you don’t have one, you can simply puree fruit in a blender and put it through a strainer. No need to invest in major equipment here!
Starting with this month:
August: Apricot and Blueberry Smoothie
Couldn’t be anyeasier! Quarter some apricots, which will be delicious, as they have just come into season, and add some blueberries. Toss them in the freezer over night and then into the blender with some yogurt (local if you can find it!). Add some OJ or apricot juice for a fantastic breakfast smoothie.
September: Cranberry Spritzer
When I was a kid, soda was a serious no go in our house. Instead, we mixed fruit juice with seltzer. To this day, it is my preferred hot day beverage. To make cranberry syrup to mix with your fizz, combine one cup of water with one cup of sugar over medium heat until it dissolves. Add cranberries and cook until they pop. Blend in a blender and send it through a sieve. Let the syrup cool and make spritz!
October: Carrot and Pear Juice
Carrots and pears are both ready to be oohhed and ahhed over in October. The pear gives plain carrot juice a little extra sweetness. This one really is easier with a juicer but either way, it’s worth the effort! If you go the blender route, add a little water to make things run more smoothly.
November: Cider – hard or soft!
This should be a local staple at any farmers market where apple growers are vending. As a kid, we took school trips to the local cider press every year. There is nothing quite like a cup of frothy fresh cider right off the press.
Ok. So, coffee doesn’t really grow in New Hampshire. But, it’s possible at this point in the winter the farmers market might be on hiatus. However, you can find beans that have been roasted locally. Look for fair trade coffee, roasted locally and sold from an independent business. Putting those dollars back into your community will strengthen the whole town, including local farmers.
I can’t write a column about drinking locally without mentioning all the fantastic micro-brews that have popped up all over New England. In fact, right in Keene, Elm City Brewing Co. is making fresh beer to get you (if you are over twenty-one!) through the winter.
This one might seem a little strange, but family farmers who process manure safely and minimize or eliminate pesticide and antibiotic use help protect fresh, clean drinking water for you. If you normally drink bottled water, take a look at your town’s water record and consider switching to the tap. Considering how the farms around you affect the quality of basic needs, like water, is another way to support the folks who are doing it right and get your neighbors involved in the issue. Not to mention, itis important to hydrate through these dry winter months!
March: Strawberry Milkshake
“Strawberries aren’t in season in March!” you might say. But…if you thought ahead, you bought or picked a few extra baskets back in July, washed them and tossed them in the freezer. Now, you can have summer whenever you need a little pick me up. Throw them in that blender with some milk and vanilla ice cream and you might just feel the summer sun for a moment!
Local milk, of course! There might be vendors at your local farmers market selling milk, which would be your first stop. Make sure to ask, where you can buy their milk when the market is closed. If your market is dairy free, look for stores that carry family farm identified milk. Some dairies do sell raw milk fresh from the farm but because of state regulations can only sell limited quantities.
May: Rhubarb Lime Rickey
I’m pretty excited about this one! Also a throw back to my soda-free youth, I love lime rickeys. But limes are not particularly local to New Hampshire and strawberries, which would be the traditional back up flavor aren’t in season, and besides, you used up your freezer stash in March. So we go with rhubarb, whose fantastic tart flavor is perfect for this drink. Mix one cup of sugar and one cup of water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. If you like a sweeter drink, add sugar to taste. Add one and a half cups of chopped rhubarb and cook until tender. Go through the blender/sieve routine. Cool. Pour equal parts seltzer and syrup over ice and juice one lime over the top. Yum!
June: Cherry Berry Juice
Oh, June! Cherries and strawberries are back towards the end of the month. Blender. Sieve. Add ice water to taste. Say goodbye to winter!!
July: Blackberry Cordial
Good with dessert, over ice cream or even in an adult spritzer. Crush and strain two cups of blackberries and mix with three cups of brandy. Add one and a half cups honey or sugar water. I admit, I stole this one from Emeril but it should come with a warning: “Small glass, please!”
So as you can see, with an eye to a seasonal calendar, minimal planning and an adventurous blender, you will find a lot of local and seasonal beverages to help wash down your farmers market meals.