Forgive the multiple postings today--I've got the afternoon off, slave to the apple trees and the stove (glory! joy!). There's not much to do between stirring the pot and...stirring the pot some more.
Where do you all buy bulk fruit for your preserves?
I'm writing from near Olympia. Yes, we have that farmers' market, but I've found the produce to be, quite often, middling. And expensive beyond belief.
Now, really, I haven't gotten used to paying cash for food--I farmed for many years in the Midwest and out east (I'm one of those leftist Ivy League rednecks). Got used to a barter economy there, where there were many more people growing foods and sharing them out.
But still, when I look at Olympia prices for Washington state apples ($3 a pound for organics! thank god I have my own trees), I'm dumbfounded. A lot of what I've seen at the Oly farmer's market hasn't been of great quality, and has been expensive. A lotta folks are looking for the top of the market in this little backwater town. And a lotta folks don't know the difference between OK/decent fruit and really really good, fresh fruit in season. (The big fruit vendors at Oly's market are brokers, not growers. They sell what the growers can't get rid of thru other channels. The quality is all over the place IMO.)
We generally go to Pike Market, plus a few of the Seattle neighborhood markets (we're fond of the Ballard farmers' market especially). It'll be some years before my berry bushes, pears, cherries, etc., are bearing like the apples are now.
Ideas? Do any of you buy fruit in bulk (by the case-plus) for preserves? I make jellies, jams, compotes, butters, preserves, marmalades, leathers, and more. I love drying fruits for Scandinavian fruit soup in the winter.
Sometimes I get a good deal on fruits at the restaurant supply store here, but it's never organic, and I'd rather go with low or no spray vegies, knowing just a little too much about what that stuff does to biological systems.