Monday, November 17, 2014
Got Cranberries? Get Organic!
A couple of years ago, Ginger Rapport, market manager of the Beaverton Farmers Market, decided it would be fun to demonstrats how customers could make a whole holiday meal from products sold by the market's vendors. To go alongside the sweet potatoes, vegetable sides and turkey, she featured a cranberry jelly made from the whole, fresh organic berries grown by Scott Ridle and his family at Eagle Organic Cranberries in Bandon.
The Ridles (pron. RYE-duhl) have owned the property since the 1930s, when Scott's great-grandfather, a doctor, was given the land by a grateful patient as payment for his services. And there it sat for sixty years, passing down through the Ridle family until Scott, who'd been considering becoming a doctor, thought better of that plan and decided to move out to the property. Clearing land and building a barn and a house from lumber he milled from the trees on the site gave him time to consider what to do with it.
That organic certification, of course, meant he couldn't use the sprays commonly applied in conventional operations to kill weeds and pests, so the family weeds the five acres of bogs by hand and uses water from the spring to occasionally flood the bogs for irrigation and pest control. They dry-harvest their berries, which Erin said gives the berries a firmer body, rather than flooding the bogs and skimming the berries as they float to the surface. They also never package their cranberries in plastic, preferring instead to sell them in paper bags that wick moisture away from the berries, helping to maintain their signature firm texture.
Because the farm is so small and organic is in such high demand, there is almost never a remainder crop left after the holidays. So if you want some of the Ridle's cranberries, your best bet is to get them in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. Erin said that in a typical year, all of the berries are sold then, with rarely enough to go through Christmas. And here's that jelly recipe, whether you plan to put it in cans and fool your guests—or not.
Details: Eagle Organic Cranberries available at the Beaverton Farmers Market, the Hillsdale Farmers' Market and the Portland Farmers Market at PSU and at these stores.
Spiced Cranberry Jelly
Courtesy of The Joy of Cooking
Combine in large saucepan:
4 c. or 1 lb. cranberries
2 c. boiling water
2 oranges, zested
¾ t. cinnamon
¼ t. clove
¼ t. salt
Bring to a boil, cover with lid. Boil 3 or 4 minutes or until skins burst. Put them through a food mill.
Stir into puree:
2 c. sugar
Return pan to heat. Boil about 5 minutes, until thick, skim, pour into bowl or a mold sprayed with pan spray.