A few quick things:
- Want to receive this list via email each week? Sign up here.
- I’m sorry to say that despite what we expected last week, there is no sweet corn this week. Fingers crossed for next.
- On the other hand, okra is here!
- Tomato prices are down, basically to the lowest we’ll see them. Bulk deals are starting too — this week we’ve got 20 lbs of red slicing tomatoes for $15, by pre-order only. (Tomatoes-by-the-pound available without pre-order!)
- Watermelon continue, and are joined by cantaloupe!
- This week’s staff pick: Keepwell Vinegars!
Scroll down for the full list of what we’ll have this week!
It turns out that what I want to write about this week overlaps entirely with the Staff Pick for the week — Keepwell Vinegars. So, for the chatty portion of today’s newsletter, I will tell you that we have been doing a good job eating all.the.caprese and we hope you are, too, and that in the past week we’ve made some other tasty things but the ingredients for them are taking a break this week (boo; we’ll come back to that when corn and shishitos return), and that right now Dusty is downstairs making chicken with vinegar for dinner — and then I’ll use that as a segue straight into —
This week’s Staff Pick from Julia
Keepwell Vinegars (all in-stock varieties) – normally $12.50; this week $10.62
I knew I’d written a little bit about Keepwell back in December when we first added them to our line-up, but I just went back and read it, and at the time I said there was probably a lot more to say — so, now I’m going to say it!
I talked before about how we first learned of Keepwell from Ben Wenk of Three Springs Fruit Farm and Ploughman Cider, how Isaiah and Sarah were pastry chefs as Baltimore’s Woodberry Kitchen before getting into the vinegar business, and even a little teaser about how they’d recently purchased a house in Harrisburg. Those are, of course, the essentials, but may not tell you everything you need to know about the vinegar, so here goes —
Truth. I don’t fully understand how vinegar is made. I get that first you make alcohol — wine, often, or hard cider, or even a malt beverage. Then you introduce a bacterial culture, in the form of a starter, or a “vinegar mother”. And then, MAGIC! Or at least something like it, if you want to make the argument that bacteria eating alcohol (itself the product of bacteria eating sugars) and turning it into vinegar while simultaneously deepening and shifting the flavor of everything else around it isn’t magic. It seems an awful lot like magic to me.
I don’t think Isaiah and Sarah think it’s magic — every time we talk to them, I’m impressed at the depth of their understanding of their craft, in culinary terms, in science terms, and in agricultural terms. I think they know just what they’re doing, and I always love to hear people who know what they’re doing (and are passionate about) talk about their processes. I also, on a different note, think it’s super cool that they relocated from the Baltimore/DC area to Harrisburg, and are doing their thing on a little farm in Dover.
Keepwell starts each batch of vinegar with high quality locally sourced ingredients. The cider-based varieties start with Three Springs apple cider (the same stuff we sell through the fall) that’s fermented into hard cider. Other varieties are more self-based, using their main ingredient as the base for the alcohol, like in the case of the Concord Grape, or the Granny Smith. Regardless of the base, though, that named flavor ingredient is added right from the beginning, so that it is fermenting along with the sugars and alcohols that are the primary food for the magic-working bacteria. This isn’t, say, a ramp-infused vinegar — those ramps are an integral part of the final product. And you can tell — it is very ramp-y, but it’s got a richness to it that you just wouldn’t get if you added the ramps after the vinegar was done.
This morning, at 9am, Isaiah brought a big box of vinegar to our house, and we stood in the kitchen tasting vinegar and chatting for over an hour. We picked our favorites (a super hard decision) to offer for special this week — Ramp, Granny Smith, and Sorghum Molasses (a sleeper hit in my mind). There were many other flavors, but we’ve only got room for a few, so we’re looking forward to rotating through the varieties as each one sells out. Of course this also means that if you see a type you want, you may want to go for it sooner rather than later! Other varieties on deck include Black Garlic, Turmeric, Ginger, and Celery Leaf, and whatever else Isaiah and Sarah can get their hands on locally.
And did I mention that local thing? I’m not sure I can stress it enough, because it’s definitely one of the coolest parts of this in my mind. Vinegars started as a way to preserve some of the harvest, and that’s exactly what Keepwell is doing. While they have some products that they seek out (still locally), they’ve also been known to take on a farmer’s excess that might otherwise go to waste and turn it into something that will keep, well, just about forever.
From a culinary perspective Keepwell’s vinegars are also somewhat magic. They have a depth of flavor you don’t get from an infused vinegar, and they are lower in acidity than the standard vinegars available in America (French vinegars are often lower in acidity as well), which makes them well-suited to cooking — really using them for their flavor. A little less caustic, you know? They’re wonderful for salad dressings (I’m really stoked about the Sorghum Molasses for this). Some varieties (perhaps not the ramp) are also really nice with a hint of maple syrup and a few splashes of sparkling water. And even though I haven’t eaten it yet, I’m pretty excited for tonight’s chicken with vinegar.
P.S. Last year Dusty and I both read Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, which we both loved and which really caused both of us to become more explicit and deliberate about incorporating different acids into our cooking. We highly recommend the book if you’re interested in taking kind of a foundational look at the elements of cooking and taste. What we haven’t read are two books about vinegar that have been sitting in my Amazon shopping cart for months but haven’t actually made it through checkout yet — Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar, and Vinegar Revival Cookbook: Artisanal Recipes for Brightening Dishes and Drinks with Homemade Vinegars. If you’ve read either one, we want to hear all about it!
- Rainbow Chard
- Green Curly Kale
- Blueberries (arriving mid-day Thursday; very limited, but also available frozen)
- Peaches (IPM)
- Seedless watermelon
- Ugly Peaches (IPM)
- Ugly Nectarines (IPM)
- Italian Parsley
Onions & Garlic
- Fresh Garlic
- Fresh Red Onions
- Fresh Sweet Onions
- Fresh White Onions
- Red Cabbage
- Italian Eggplant
- Red & Yellow Bell Peppers
- Hungarian Wax Peppers
- Jalapeno Peppers
- Poblano Peppers
- Maybe others arriving Friday
- Red New Potatoes
Salad Greens Squash Tomatoes