Thoughts about setting up your table at the Farmer’s Market

July 29, 2010

wendy_st_market
This is an older photo of me at my market table.  I will be taking new photos this week and will post my new “set-up” a bit later.   I met a lovely gal on twitter the other day and we began a dialog as she is starting her own jam company and wanted to know about my experience with Farmer’s Markets.  Her questions came at the most perfect time.   I only have experience of doing Farmer’s Markets in Florida so that will be my knowledge base.
This write up is by no means all inclusive, here are just a few main points to begin your planning.  Visit a few different markets first to see how they feel and how busy they are, then place your application and find out their specific requirements.  The markets here are much busier in the Winter months probably the opposite of Farmer’s Markets in the Northeast and West.  Novemember and December are my busiest months. I expect to be selling upwards of 225 jars at my main market which is open from 7:00 AM till 1:00 PM.  If you are just starting out, my advice to you is to bring at least 50 to 80 jars to the market to “test” the waters. Your table will look beautiful and full. If/when you run out of something, you are creating a demand for your product. I price my products all the same (ridiculous I know)—I just want it to be easy both for myself and the customer. Some products I make money on, others break even, that will be a personal choice for you.  I calculated all of my costs on each product, I took the “middle” cost and tripled it. I am very interested in how other small companies do this.  I noticed most of the other vendors have different prices on all of their products,  and I feel pretty sure they base it on the direct cost of ingredients.
With the flow and ebb of the seasons, sometimes I make a lovely profit and sometimes a just make a small profit on the same product.  In calculating your pricing, you have to be sure you will still make money when you wholesale your jams in the future–if that is part of your plan. I also sell pickled vegetables and I offfer my customers a mix and match any three for $3 less than purchasing individually.  People seem to love the chance to purchase three for a discount.

Pay to have a beautiful banner and use beautiful tablecloths. Make the display interesting and use different heights to display the products—it gives people a place to rest their eyes and makes the shopping more enjoyable for them. Offer samples of all of your products, be generous and passionate. Some resources that are current right now, you can purchase taster spoons here.   You get 3,000 of them in each box so you never have to think about giving 10 samples away to one customer. Pay a little extra to get the cub shopping bags—I use Nashville Wraps. For those that don’t carry their own recycle bags, it makes your product stand out and they can reuse the bag for gift.

Offer recipe cards so give folks ideas on how to use your products. A lot of people don’t realize how versatile the jams are and how many things you can do with them. So…for me even as my wholesale business grows,  I want to always continue the Farmers’ Markets.  There are my my test market, I get live feedback and I get to charge retail which I love!

Make sure you have all of your licensing—I display mine to give customers utter confidence and to comply with the law (more importantly).  Make sure that your labels have all of your business/contact information, expiration dates and ingredients listings.

I am a certified kitchen manager, I have a state license from Dept of Agriculture and a County license. Each State has their own requirements.  The health inspector twice a year to inspect our kitchen.

More on this later and I hope you will find this helpful.

Summerfest Recipe for Zucchini Pancakes

two fresh zucchini isolated
Across the bloggersphere zucchini is ripening in our gardens.  Summerfest has themes each week and this week was cukes and zucchini.   I know I have been posting lots of recipes lately, but couldn’t resist adding this one to the pile….I used to make these for my Dad and brother for Sunday brunch when we lived in New Jersey.  It was an excuse to get together after my Mom passed away and we would always, always eat way too many.  I started to make them for my own family here in Florida and they always go over well, but I miss eating these with my Dad.  Here is the recipe for you:

Spiced Pear Butter Bread Pudding

July 20, 2010

Spiced Pearbutter
This is an old standby, easy-peasy recipe that uses up that stale bread you just might have left in the pantry.  My family loves this bread pudding and when I make it for my farmer’s market customers, I usually sell out of my Spiced Pear Butter.  It tastes like the fall and reminds me of the days when the chill would fill the air and the leaves would begin to change.  Now that I am living in Florida, the fall signals a time that the humidity dissapates and the cooler days of winter are fast approaching.   This recipe would work equally as well with Apple Butter if you have that on hand.  You can substitute fresh apples for the pears, substitute cranberries for the raisins, all of it works deliciously.

 

Fresh Plum Sauce

July 18, 2010

 
I set about to create a new Plum Sauce recipe on Friday to usesome of  my gorgeous lot of fresh plums.  I am creating a new line of products for my Farmer’s Market booth in Winter Park, FL.   I make a gorgeous Plum, Apricot and Ginger Preserve which is delightful and I believe I might have a flavor hit with this new sauce too.  It is only my first blush, so I am sure I will be modifying this recipe to get it closer to perfection.  It has a texture much like applesauce.  So far we have tasted it alongside Crab Rangoons, as a dip for pretzels and I will be using this as a stuffing layer in a boneless pork roast next week.   So here goes!  If you try this, I would love to know your thoughts.
 
Plum Sauce
 
Ingredients:  5.5 lbs Plums (after skinning and pitting)
1.5 lbs chopped onion
1 Guajillo Pepper (Ground – 1 med dried)
1/4 cup Mirin
1 Cup White Vinegar
2 cups Brown Sugar
3/4 oz Grated Ginger
Scant Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Teriaki Sauce
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh Garlic
1 tsp Coriander
1/2 tsp Allspice
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
 
Method:  Pulse chopped, skinned plums and onions in the food processor until fine.  Take your guajillo pepper and grind in vita-mix or simlar spice ginder.  In large dutch oven, place plums, onions, and all other ingredients  and stir to combine.  Bring up to a boil and then turn heat back to simmer.  I simmered mine for about 45 minutes until it was the consistency of applesauce.   I canned the sauce. I sterlized (4) 16 oz jars and 1 8 oz jar for sampling to my customers.  We ate what was left in the pot that night with our crab rangoons…YUM.  Take the jars and boil them in your water bath for 12 minutes to sterlize.  Fill the jars with the Plum Sauce and place back in water bath canner for 15 minutes depending on your elevation.  I am as close to sea level as you can get!
 

Recipe Development

July 15, 2010


One of my favorite parts of my business are the recipe creation. I get to sit and do a bit of research on recipes that are already working out in the world and have been created by those who have come long before me. I really enjoy doing the research and love the quietness of being at the computer and then pouring through my cookbook collection. I usually use about four different recipes to create my “base” recipe. I then have to sit and crunch the math to work the proportions and ensure the recipe maintains the correct acid proportions. For me, then comes the best part. I kind of go into this zone and rely on my intuition to add or layer new spices and flavors into the mixture. I guess this is where Wendy the Witch comes in….bubbling and brewing! It is the most creative and exciting part for me, when I just get to totally relax, have fun and trust myself, it is what I call divine. More on this later :)

Linda

July 13, 2010

Today I received a call that an old co-worker of mine passed away. We had worked together on an off for about 9 years. I met Linda 15 years ago when I had come back from my Materinity Leave. She had this amazing howling laugh and a fabulous gap tooth smile…. I had to go and lay down after I received the news. I feel such a loss. As I get older, it is more often that I receive this news, but it doesn’t get easier. I had a special connection with Linda. The two of us were together in a conference room when another of our co-workers passed away right in front of us. She handled it with such grace and compassion. I will miss you Linda.

July 12, 2010


Emily Olsen of Foodzie fame has been so instrumental in helping me grow my company. I had reached out to Foodzie with product samples in January of 2009, just two months after I started my business. After a wonderful tasting, they accepted my products and got them online immediately. Emily had connections to Food Editors and Bloggers across the county which have helped to grow my business exponentially. This past May my Exotic Jam Trio appeared in Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine which is pictured here. It is so exciting to see your products in a magazine! I was so honored and excited at the same time.

During the ins and outs of running the business and the daily demands and decisions, it is so tough sometimes to be grateful for how far you have come and to stop and savor the successes. I know that I am only as good as my lastest press, or my last customer sale. But…it is so important for me to have the faith that another wonderful opportunity is just around the corner and not to let my worries and my fear put a damper on my creativity and willingness to share what I do with others.

Watermelon Rind Pickles

July 4, 2010

This was my first blush recipe for Watermelon Rind Pickles. I still might make some adjustments to it, but I made these and sold out at the Farmer’s Market, so I might have just hit the mark. Try these out and see what you think! This recipe yielded 6, 16 oz jars with a few rinds left over for tasting.
 
Ingredients:
6.5 lbs Watermelon Rind
3 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Cup Cider Vinegar
3 Cups White Vinegar
3 Cups Water
1.5 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Large Lemon sliced into very thin slices
1 oz Fresh Ginger sliced thin
2 Tsp Allspice Whole
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Tsp Clove Whole
Method:
Prepare the rind by cutting the red flesh away, leaving just a bit on for color and peeling the green outside skin away. Cut the rind into 2 inch chunks (a bit like pickles). Place into a large non-reactive bowl and add 3 Tbsp salt to the rinds and cover with ice cubes. Let this sit for at least 2 hours adding more ice as it melts. Drain this mixture very well and rinse several times. Using a large dutch oven, place the rind in the pot and add water to cover–this water is not mentioned in the ingredients above. Simmer the rinds for about 15 minutes, then drain by pouring through strainer. Bring the empty Dutch Oven back to the stove and add all of the ingredients above, bring this mixture to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes, then add the watermelon rind and continue to simmer until the rind becomes a bit translucent. For me this took an additional 20 minutes–keep checking and stirring as it might take you less time depending on how think/large your pieces of rind. The liquid should turn into a very thin syrup. Remove the cinnamon sticks. Prepare your 16 oz canning jars, pack the jars, splitting up the ginger and spices evenly as you can between them. Process these in boiling water bath for 20 minutes. I think I might like to add some mustard seeds for interest and depth of flavor next time.