Tag Archives: Ohio

Ohio Pawpaw Festival 2010

Have you ever tasted a pawpaw? If the answer is no, then you should make plans to head to the Ohio pawpaw festival next weekend.

Pawpaws are the largest native fruit in the United States and the official native fruit of Ohio. They are also an Ark of Taste fruit.  They grow on trees in woodland areas in Ohio and 25 other states and have a pale green skin that turns yellow as they ripen. They are amazingly tropical for something that grows in Ohio and are like a cross between a custard apple, mango, guava and banana. The flesh is creamy yellow but have a lot of seeds and bruise easily so aren’t popular commercially.

The pawpaw festival offers all sorts of pawpaw treats and activities. Here’s my account of last year’s festival. I will be there on Sunday judging the pawpaw cook-off contest at 1.30pm. Here is the schedule of the rest of the weekend’s activities.  You can also combine your visit to the festival with a visit to the Athens farmers’ market, an O’Betty’s hot dog or some of the other great restaurants there. There are some other Athens ideas herehere and here.

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Weldon’s

It is often asserted that Columbus is the ice cream capital of the world, and while the city has a very good case,  including the rest of Central Ohio does make a stronger argument for ice cream dominance. Weldon’s have been producing ice cream in the same location for 80 years and their Millersport store, overlooking Buckeye Lake would be another jewel in the crown.

My first visit to Weldon’s was a welcome reward for a long, hot bike ride through seemingly endless cornfields. Entering the store you have the sense of stepping back in time: painted wooden benches, an old juke box with three plays for a quarter and home-made ice cream drumsticks. Samples of their many flavors are given on a metal spoon.

The most popular flavors are always available but other flavors rotate. Some like Rocky Shores, Mudd Island and Buckeye Blitz seemed appropriate for the location. I chose brown cinnamon peach and craw dad tracks and was particularly enamored with the brown cinnamon peach and the drip catcher was useful on a 95º afternoon. The brown cinnamon peach was a smooth creamy blend with a good balance of the fruit and spice flavors. The craw dad tracks was a creamy vanilla ice cream with pecans and caramel.

Weldon’s is definitely worth a stop if you are in the Buckeye Lake area and may even justify planning a day trip around. Buckeye Lake, man-made as a feeder lake for the Ohio and Erie Canal, is now a state park with plenty of opportunities for boating, fishing and swimming.

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Filed under ice cream, Ohio

Krema Nut Company Tour

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I had been wanting to tour the Krema Nut Company for sometime. Although it is only a mile and a half from my house it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You can only visit on weekdays, during office hours and you have to have a group of twenty or more people. Finally I assembled a group and last Friday it was ‘peanut butter jelly time’. 

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Krema has been making peanut butter in Columbus for since 1898 soon after Dr John Kellogg (of cereal fame) patented a peanut butter making process. They are the oldest continuously operating manufacturer in the United States. 

The tour started with a short video about the process of making peanut butter from farm to jar. Slightly surreal as the video they use is a clip from Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood (for British readers, it is the equivalent to using a clip from Play School or some other cheesy 1970’s children’s TV). We were then told about the different varieties of peanuts (spanish, virginia and runner). Most ‘commercial’ peanut butters are made from runner peanuts because they have the highest yield per acre, but Krema uses higher quality spanish peanuts for their peanut butter.

The factory is small scale and much is done by hand. Krema’s peanut butter is all natural which means that nothing at all is added. The nuts are roasted, cooled, blanched (skins and hearts are removed) and then ground. I was surprised that the heart (the little dot at the top of the peanut) is removed (you eat them when you eat peanuts whole) but apparently they are bitter. ‘Commercial’ peanut butters leave them in but they add sugar and salt to make up for the bitterness. 

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We learned that when choosing a natural peanut butter you should choose one without too much oil on the surface, there will be some as the peanut butter starts to separate as soon as it is made, but the less oil there is, the fresher it is. When you get it home, stir it to combine the oil and then refrigerate it. If it is too hard to spread, then you can microwave it for 20 seconds to soften it, then return to the fridge after use. It is fine to do this repeatedly. 

Krema also makes other nut butters (almond, cashew) and other but products and we learned about cashews (really a seed) and Brazil nuts (yes, they do come from Brazil). When you learn that a 50ft cashew tree only produces 6lbs of cashew nuts a year, you can appreciate why they are so expensive. The extra large cashews we tasted were fantastic. We watched almond butter being made.

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We tasted Krema’s regular peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter and hot and spicy peanut butter. You could really taste the freshness. The hot and spicy peanut butter is my new favorite food. It makes an excellent PB&J sandwich, is a great snack with celery and I think it would make for a wonderful satay sauce. 

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Krema have a shop with an extensive range of nut products that is open to the public and you can see through windows into the factory (a lot easier than organizing a tour). There is also a sandwich shop that also serves milkshakes, ice cream and sundaes (PB milkshake got a big thumbs up). It is located at 1000 West Goodale Blvd in Columbus. If you can’t make it to the shop, Krema also sell their products online. 

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Sandwiches pictured: Classic Old Timer (with strawberry preserves and fresh strawberries), the PB-nana (with honey and bananas) and Grandma’s Apple Pie (with chunky apple fruit spread). 

One of my other discoveries from the shop – almondized peanuts. These are boiled before they are roasted and it gives them a really crunchy texture. Delicious salted and less greasy than regular roast peanuts.

Thanks to everyone who came along for the tour.

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May Farmers Markets

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May marks the return of the farmers markets and I am so glad to have them back. Last year I was a North Market devotee and while it is still my nearest and dearest, this year I have decided to branch out and explore some of the other farmers markets that Columbus and Ohio have to offer. I have written several times before about why I love shopping at farmers markets. Suffice to say it makes me happy and whilst part of me wishes I lived somewhere with outdoor markets all year round, I think the seasonality makes me appreciate the markets even more. 

My first market trip of the year was to the North Market and it was wonderful to see the familiar faces and all of their beautiful produce. Whilst the market was much smaller than it will be at the height of summer, many of my favorite stall holders were there including the Rhoades’, Elizabeth Telling, Toad Hill Farm and Blue Jacket Dairy. Blue Jacket have some new cheeses this year including a feta, Ludlow and the dessert like mountain mist quark with cinnamon and cranberries. 

May is not the most bountiful month but there are some delights to be found. The early birds at the North Market were even rewarded with local morels but sadly I was not one of them. Our Ohio has a handy reference guide of what is in season when.  

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My staples this month have been asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries and beautiful young salad greens. We have mainly been grilling the asparagus, marinated in some olive oil and lemon juice with salt and pepper. The rhubarb I make into a compote and eat by itself or with yoghurt. My love of radishes has not abated and I pounced on them and also on some freshly picked English peas in the pod. There are lots of herbs, cut and in pots, flowers (including irises and peonies), praying mantis nests (for natural pest control), mushrooms, cheese and eggs. The curled cress was amazingly potent – the flavor is reminiscent of nasturtium flowers but fluffy and delicate though it appears it packs a punch like wasabi. 

It is fun when you see something for sale in the market and realize that you have it at home in your garden – I have been experimenting with garlic scapes and chive blossoms. The chive blossoms are beautiful and can be tossed into a salad or as pictured used in an omelette. My weeding has taken on a new dimension since I discovered that what I thought was clover is actually yellow wood sorrel and it tastes like granny smith peel – yum! 

The second market I have been visiting regularly is the Pearl Market in downtown Columbus. It is open on Tuesday and Friday lunchtimes and is surprisingly large and varied. It has been operating downtown since 1992. You can get some lunch, do some shopping and if nothing in the market appeals to you, it is a great excuse to go to El Arepazo Latin Grill for some wonderful Venezuelan food. There are some prepared food stalls (the highlight so far is Nellie’s samosas), baked goods, some sweet treats (try Jimmie’s old fashioned nut brittle), ice cream, cheese, crafts and clothes, plants and farm produce. The crowds of office workers grabbing lunch and some fresh air make it a decidedly different vibe to saturday mornings at the North Market. 

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Having spent months tracking taco trucks, it is probably not surprising that any mobile food vendor catches my eye. Red Snapper a Jamaican food truck is a regular at Pearl market and on other days can be found on Cleveland Avenue. We tried the brown stew with rice, beans and cabbage and it was tasty and good value. I want to go back and try the jerk chicken which seems to be their most popular dish. The owners have only operated the truck for a month or so, previously running a restaurant of the same name before deciding to go mobile. 

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Yesterday I went on a road trip to Granville farmers market. Granville is an idyllic college town and you could easily be fooled into thinking you were in New England. It was the opening day of the farmers market and we were warmly welcomed. I think there were around 40 stalls and lots to choose from: lots of fruit and vegetables, meat, cheeses, breads, baked goods, honey, flowers and plants. It was probably a good thing that my imminent trip restricted my purchases. There were lots of samples on offer and some of the displays were really beautiful. 

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As well as some fruit and vegetables, I bought some of the tasty hot trail Bologna from Olde Village Meat (Frazeysburg); the most flavorful hamburger meat I have ever had from Long Meadows Grass Beef (Utica) and a french baguette from Lucky Cat Farm (Pataskala) and I couldn’t resist a walnut cinnamon roll for breakfast. IMG_3072

I had heard about the Granville farmers market because it is the main market for Dick Jensen of Flying J farm (where we had the shake the hand that feeds you dinner) and also Janelle Baron of Blue Owl Hollow (where we went to the mushroom log workshop). I saw Dick (and bought some maple syrup) and Janelle and her husband Peter who had a fragrant and fascinating array of herbs including five varieties of mint. I hadn’t seen curly mint before and Janelle gave me samples of all five to compare. 

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Normally Janelle and Peter have some of their baked goods to show people what they can do with some of the more unusual herbs. Having sampled their fantastic food at the mushroom workshop, it would be worth another trip to Granville just for that. 

We were told that Granville will also be having a smaller market on Tuesday afternoons during the summer. I can’t find any details online but if you are looking for farmers markets, farms or CSAs close to you, Local Harvest is a great resource.

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