Darrell Lucas, owner of Illiano’s Restaurant-Pizzeria of Meriden, sticks a Made in Meriden label on a jar of pickles as  Carrie Teele looks on Friday. Photos by Dave Zajac, Record-Journal

Extra zucchini? Here’s some ways to get creative with fresh produce from your farmers’ market

Extra zucchini? Here’s some ways to get creative with fresh produce from your farmers’ market

Extra zucchini? Here’s some ways to get creative with fresh produce from your farmers’ market

reporter photo

MERIDEN — Zucchini, blueberries and nectarines are just some of the produce in its prime this month and available at the Meriden Farmers’ Market every Saturday. 

There are endless ways to use the produce, from enjoying it raw to cooking it in a savory dish or sweet dessert. 

Local chef Kashia Cave said it’s a great time of year to make grilled zucchini or zucchini bread. 

She suggests making pesto and sofrito with the fresh herbs also in abundance. After receiving some lavender from a friend, she made lavender lemonade and blueberry lavender muffins. 

Cave, who used to run My City Kitchen in Meriden, now works with the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport and remains with the Meriden Farmers’ Market.

Onions can be pickled with apple cider vinegar, or caramelized, which Cave said can be used with sweet or savory dishes. 

By buying local produce from a farmers’ market, you’re supporting local businesses and the community, Cave said. 

“You know the food is grown locally and it is healthy for you,” she said. 

City residents Carrie Teele and Darrel Lucas used pickling cucumbers grown from Teele’s home garden recently to make homemade pickles. Lucas said he would look for more produce at the market to make more batches.

Lucas put the cucumbers in a large bucket and added a dissolved mixture of white vinegar, dill, sugar, salt, water and a variety of seasonings like coriander and mustard seed.

The finished pickle jars are adorned with custom-made stickers that read “Made in Meriden” and show city landmarks like Red Bridge and Castle Craig. 

“The purpose was just to increase Meriden pride,” he said about the stickers. Lucas is able to sell the limited number of jars at his restaurant, Illiano’s Ristorante and Pizzeria in Meriden. 

Teele, a longtime gardener, decided to try growing cucumbers when it was clear most community events were getting canceled this summer. 

“Gardening has been around in my house pretty much my whole entire life,” she said. 

When Lucas posted a progress picture in a Meriden community Facebook forum, another resident offered fresh dill from her own garden too.

He said the pickles were created like stone soup, with different people coming together to make one thing. 

“So it turned into an even bigger community thing,” he said. 

Lucas said pickling was super easy to do and encourages others to try it. Lots of vegetables and fruits can be pickled, including asparagus, beets, bell peppers, mushrooms, peaches and grapes. 

Some of the local farms that set up at the Meriden Farmers’ Market are J.C. Farm and Greenhouse in Durham, Gotta Farm in Portland, and Beckett Farms in Glastonbury. 

“There’s no way you’re going to get fresher than what you get at the market,”  said Meriden Farmers Market President and City Councilor Michael Rohde.

Rohde said with each successful week, the market adds more vendors— like crafters and bread makers— and sees more people coming out.  

The market is still doing its “doubling dollars” program for people with EBT cards or senior citizens. 

The market is located on the Mill Street side of the Meriden Green from 8:30 a.m. to noon every Saturday from July 11 to Oct. 17.

bwright@record-journal.com203-317-2316Twitter: @baileyfaywright

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