Here's a sample of artisan treats made of products from local farms — from lavender mustard to sauerkraut to world-cuisine baby foods. Selling such "value-added" items helps keep small farmers afloat — and gives buyers of the goodies the satisfaction of helping keep nearby agricultural land in production.
Pressing apples into cider, brining cucumber to make pickles or preserving berries as jams and jellies are age-old ways for farmers to put more value into the crops they grow.
Such artisanal items — either made by a farmer or someone else — can help small-scale growers raise their profile, extend their selling season or find a steady market for their crops. The value added for consumers of these locally focused gourmet treats includes the satisfaction of keeping agricultural land in production and helping neighbors earn a living.
Here is a small sample of regional specialties:
Bella Cosa Foods in Seattle (1711 N. 45th St., Seattle) says hearing tales of the “wonderful, mythic” Olde English Lavender Whiskey Mustard from Lavender Wind Farm led it to carry the savory sauce. Like many area lavender growers, the Whidbey Island farm markets a myriad products. Theirs include a lavender-lemon shortbread mix, jellies, even “kitty sprinkles” (scented baking-soda cat-box deodorizer). $6.95 a jar for the mustard. www.lavenderwind.com or 877-242-7716.
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The milk used to make Mt. Townsend Creamery’s popular cheeses comes from grass-fed cows raised on North Olympic Peninsula family-farm dairies that eschew hormones, antibiotics or chemical fertilizers. Cirrus, a Camembert, is about $6.70, the medium-hard Trailhead about $7, Seastack, which is soft-ripened and coated with vegetable ash (vegetables dried and crumbled into ash, to help form a thin rind), about $8.60. www.mttownsendcreamery.com or 360-379-0895.
Jasmine Lybrand believes dogs should be locavores, too. She turns out apple, pumpkin, carrot and other-flavored dog treats in her family-run bakery in Monroe using “no corn, wheat, soy, chemicals or weird stuff!” Bag of treats: $7.95. Wet Noses Natural Dog Treat Co.: 1-866-938-6673 or www.wet-noses.com
Expect a microdistillery surge similar to the microbrewery boom now that state law defines craft distilling as an agricultural practice and allows on-site sales and tastings. More tree fruits, grains and berries will likely be turned into small-batch spirits by companies such as Spokane’s Dry Fly Distilling, which uses only locally grown grains and botanicals in its vodka and gin (barrel-aging whiskey will be ready next year). $32 a bottle for Washington Wheat Vodka or Dry Gin. Available at the distillery or at most state liquor stores. www.dryflydistilling.com or 509-489-2112.
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream in Wallingford uses locally grown ingredients, like Lynden, Whatcom County, milk, Sequim lavender, Snoqualmie Valley strawberries and raspberries. Open from noon to 11 p.m. daily at 1622 ½ N. 45th St. Single-scoop cone: $3. www.mollymoonicecream.com or 206-547-5105.
The label of Cascades Acres brand sauerkraut reads “cabbage, natural cabbage juice and sea salt” and “that’s all there is in this kraut,” according to third-generation farmer Craig Staffanson. He and his wife, Jocelyn, make sauerkraut at their Pleasant Valley Farm in Mount Vernon from cabbages grown in the Skagit Valley. Staffanson predicts the snappy, fresh taste of their naturally fermented product will win over many a skeptic who may never have had the pleasure of tasting sauerkraut made without chemical preservatives. Sold at Haggen Food groceries in Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties. 360-466-0491.
Thanks in part to promotion efforts by The Northwest Cider Society, plus production classes offered by Washington State University, there’s a windfall of new, locally produced hard ciders. One is Eaglemount Cider, made by Trudy and Jim Davis, who put a 120-year-old apple orchard back to work and bottle up dry, sweet, ginger and quince flavors. $13.49 a bottle. www.eaglemountwinery.com or 360-732-4084.
Seattle pediatrician Susanna Block and family doctor Jonathan Scheffer, wife and husband, favor local farmers to grow the veggies used to make what they call “multicultural” baby food: nonbland, preservative-free blends such as Baby Borscht, Baby Dal or Que Pasa Calabasa (squash, sweet potatoes and garbanzo beans). Variety pack of six 4.3 oz. jars: $19.99. Dr. Susanna’s World Baby Foods. Sold at Whole Foods, Haggen Food and Top Foods or online at www.worldbabyfoods.com. 206-388-3880.
Martha Stewart’s Living magazine singled out Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards in a recent “favorite sources” feature. The 80-year-old Lynden farm grows thin-skinned, sweet DuChilly hazelnuts. One-pound lb. bag of nuts or 1-pound bag of hazelnut flour: each $8.50, plus shipping, www.holmquisthazelnuts.com or 360-988-9240.
Honey Ridge Farms Balsamic Honey Vinegar, made entirely from honey and sulfite-free, is a sweet-tart concoction from Brush Prairie, Clark County, made by fifth-generation beekeepers who set aside a portion of profits for bee-colony research. $12.99 (plus shipping) for 8.45 ounces from www.honeyridgefarms.com or 360-256-0086.
Port Townsend-based freelance writer Mary Rothschild is a former Seattle Times editor.
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