We thought no better time to officially launch the pedal powered crusher than at our favourite cider event of the season: The Fruit Grower’s Festival! This pedal powered crusher was built with recycled, upcycled, and salvaged parts from bikes, wood shops, shopping carts, etc. Our volunteers worked hard over the winter designing and building this amazing custom apple crusher. Come to the University of Alberta Botanic Garden to learn about it and meet some of the people who helped build it and make it happen.
Here is a little video of a test run we had a couple weeks ago to make sure everything was working smoothly.
The event runs from 11am-4pm. There is plenty of activities revolving around fruit to learn about what grows in a prairie climate. You might be surprised by what you find out! There will also be seminars on different topics throughout the day. Amy Beaith (OFRE Director & official canner of OFRE products) will be giving a talk on canning and other ways to preserve fruit.
This fall OFRE volunteers: Amy Beaith & Molly MacDougall be official canning instructors with City Arts Edmonton offering a series of 2 canning courses on different foods and techniques. These courses will show you what you “Can” do with locally grown fruits and vegetables, and hopefully prepare you to get out there and preserve some of the rich bounty that grows in the Edmonton region.
Molly and I both love to can! We have strong experience as home preservers and have each taken a canning course in the past year. We have taught many OFRE workshops together over the past year and are the ladies behind the unique OFRE products sold at farmers markets. Amy Beaith was also the canning instructor with Eat Alberta this past April teaching two sessions on canning focusing on locally grown Evan’s Cherries in the fruit class and peppers for the pickling class.
To sign up for these exciting new classes offered for the first time through City Arts Edmonton, click on the class titles below. There are 2 classes in the canning series running during the months of Sept and October. Sign up early so you don’t miss out!
As word gets around about OFRE and our picking fruit capabilities we are getting requests from farms to help out with the harvest this year. The excellent weather we have had this year of warmth and moist conditions has been ideal for the berry crops including saskatoons!
In early August, OFRE was invited to help glean a bumper crop of saskatoons on a u-pick outside the city near Wawbemin. It’s further than we have ventured before, but it was fun. We tend to try to stay in the city as much as possible as there is an abundant amount of fruit grown in Edmonton, but this was worth the trip. Check out the amount of berries picked by everyone! As per usual, all the fruits of the harvest are split into 4 shares with an equal share going to: the homeowner, a charity, OFRE, and a quarter is divided up among the pickers. I definitely have a freezer full now and will be enjoying my portion on pancakes or in muffins this fall. In this case, the homeowner who runs the u-pick farm was very grateful we could come out the pick the berries. She was able to take her portion to her stand at the farmer’s market to sell to customers, which directly benefits her business and gives people access to local fruit. A win-win in my mind.
Thanks everyone who came out and helped pick the patch. OFre volunteers were invited on 2 consecutive nights which meant that we could have lots of pickers and spread the bounty around.
From the OFRE portion of the fruit, I made a Spiced Saskatoon Jam. Here is the photo, I’m crushing the berries with a potato masher to help release the juice. It is a saucy sweet jam with a hint of cinnamon, touch of all-spice, and the brightness of lemon zest. very nice on toast, or drizzled on ice cream or a decadent chocolate cake. To see the final product, you will have to drop by the 124th Grand Market, every Thursday from 5pm-9pm.
On a hot, sunny afternoon at the end of July, OFRE volunteers went out to a strawberry u-pick farm North of Edmonton towards Gibbons to glean the patch at the end of the season. Not only did we get to pick fresh strawberries, but they had a small patch of raspberries we picked too. People of all ages came out to partake in the fun.
Afterwards, a couple volunteers gathered together to make 2 OFRE jams from the OFRE portion of the rescued fruit. The sticky looking spoons you see in the bottom corner of the photo are from doing the spoon sheet test. To test if a jam is done, you can take a cold spoon and dip it into the jam mixture and let it drip off, then set it aside in the freezer for 1 minute. If it has jelled, your jam is ready to be poured into jars!
Here are the jam names and recipes that the volunteers came up with for this jammin’ afternoon.
Sublime Mixed Field Berry Jam (lime zest/juice, raspberries, strawberries). So delicious! (pictured in the photo)
Berry & Barb’s Jam (Strawberries & Rhubarb. Need I saw more?)
Thanks everyone who came out for a day on farm and for helping making Jam! The OFRE jam’s are available weekly at the 124th Grand Market, which runs Thursday evenings from 5-9pm.