just add [fruit] takes ‘local’ seriously

just add fruit smallThe first ever Thanksgiving Harvest Festival by the Sally Frank’s Farmers’ Market – an indoor farmer’s market just in time for Thanksgiving, is Sunday, November 24th from 12-4pm in Memorial Hall, 590 Main Street in Melrose. We have 25 vendors bringing all sorts of food from local farms, waters, and kitchens so you can have the freshest food for your Thanksgiving table.

Jacqi Bastoni from just add [fruit] will be at the market selling her pre-made pie crusts. Jacqi’s pie crusts are extremely good – you could just eat them on their own!

Jacqi began her venture by selling her pie crust at Farm Direct Coop, a community supported agriculture (CSA) in Melrose. This year she started selling them at our farmer’s market.

The whole reason for making the pie crusts, Jacqi told me, is to support local. All the ingredients in her pie crusts are local. There are only 3 ingredients in her crust – flour, butter and honey.

The flour comes from Four Star Farms in Northfield, Mass. The farm grows and mills the flour. Flour is an ingredient you want fresh because once wheat berries are milled, the flour become highly perishable. She uses a bolted (sifted), pastry, whole wheat flour in her crusts.

The butter, also a highly perishable ingredient, especially when using unsalted, is best sourced as fresh as possible. Jacqi gets the butter form Kate’s Homemade Butter from Old Orchard Beach in Maine. Kate’s Homemade Butter sources their cream from local New England dairies who pledge not to give their cows artificial growth hormones to increase their milking capacity.

Finally, the honey comes from Essex County Beekeepers. The honey is from local bee hives Honey is a powerful immune system booster. Honey produced by bees working in the area where you live will often prevent allergic reactions to the pollens it contains.

Jacqi sells her crusts frozen and not rolled out onto a tin pie plate. This makes having a pre-made pie crust versatile because you can make it into cupcake size pastries for a small open pie, a pot pie, a quiche, a tart, or even a pop tart! I find that pie crusts are a great way to put anything in them that you have in your refrigerator that must be used up before it spoils. Quiche is my personal goto for using up food – crack 4 eggs, add whatever you have and some cheese, pour it into the pie crust and voilà – a meal for 6 people!

Jacqi recommends defrosting the pie crust overnight in the refrigerator. Take out 5 or 10 minutes before you want to roll it out. Grease and flour your pie dish or whatever you plan to put your pie crust in. Roll out the pie crust just big enough to fit into the pie dish or whatever. You can either cut the edges or roll them under. Prick the pie crust with a fork so it won’t bubble up, place foil then dried beans or something on top to hold it down. Place just the crust in the oven to ‘blind bake’ it at 375° F for 15-20 minutes. Covering with foil is also a trick you can use if your crust is a nice golden brown but your filling isn’t cooked yet. Just cover the crust with foil and it won’t continue to darken.

Jacqi said the trick to a flaky pie crust is to make sure the butter is cold before it goes into the oven. If you’ve accidentally left the crust out too long, place the crust in its dish into the refrigerator before placing in the oven.

If you’d like to try something different, make your crust into pop tarts. I receive jams as gifts a lot and I don’t use them fast enough. A great way to use up the jams is to make them into pop tarts. They make great bite size desserts you can bring over to a friend’s house! Take the pie crust and roll it out to 1/8″ thick. Cut into the size and shape you’d like making 2 pieces for each tart. Beat an egg and brush it onto the bottom half, making sure you get the edges really good. Place a dollop of jam onto the pie crust and spread out evenly, leaving about a 1/2″ along the edges. Place the other half on top of the bottom, press the edges down with your fingers, then press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the tart. Place on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Prick each tart with a fork to allow steam to escape. Refrigerate the tarts while you preheat the oven to 350° F. Remove the tarts from the fridge and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Cool in the baking pan.

Jacqi’s pie crusts will be for sale at the Thanksgiving market, perfect for your best fillings for the holidays! To see more of the vendors we will have at our Thanksgiving Harvest Festival, go to our website at www.melrosefarmersmarket.org.

See you at the market!

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