How to Get Cheap Farmer’s Market Produce and Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

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I don’t know about other Farmer’s Markets around the country, but ours is quite pricey. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why. Most of these farmers are not mass producing therefore they do not have the equipment to mass harvest. Not to mention their products are generally organic and taste so much better.

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My only problem is that I have to feed a family of five, and boy does that get expensive. I am always looking for ways to feed them organic quality ingredients on the dime.

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When I was at the Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago, I over heard one of the ladies at the stand tell someone that she had organic apricots for jam making for $1 a pound. The ones up front were being sold for $5 a pound!! Before this woman even had time to respond, I was behind the counter picking out my apricots. I got home that evening and made 12 jars of apricot berry jam for about $7 total.

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While I was picking out the apricots, it occurred to me that every vendor must have produce like this. So, at the next stand I asked if they had any soft tomatoes that they weren’t planning on selling, and would sell to me for less. I was able to pick up 10 pounds for $5…score!

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Here are my tips for getting cheap produce:

  • Go about 30 minutes before the market closes
  • Ask for soft or bruised produce that would be perfect for jams or sauces
  • Negotiate bulk pricing
  • Buy in season produce (ie don’t buy watermelon in december)

Now that you have all of my tips, don’t come to my farmer’s market in Solana Beach. Just kidding.

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Now, about this sauce. This is a great sauce for spaghetti, bolognese, pizza, etc. I love adding a stick of really good butter such as Plugra European Style Butter at the end of cooking because it adds creaminess to the sauce. This sauce freezes beautifully for 6 months! Keep in mind that if you use Heirloom tomatoes, your sauce will be lighter than traditional tomato sauce. Enjoy peak of summer tomato sauce in the cold winter months!

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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients

  • 10 large ripe tomatoes (I used heirloom, but roma works well too)
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 stick or 8 tbsp Plugrá Butter

Instructions

  1. Boil a large pot of water.
  2. Prepare a large bowl of ice water, set aside.
  3. Plunge tomatoes into boiling water until the skin starts to peel.
  4. Remove tomatoes with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water.
  5. Allow to cool enough to touch.
  6. Once cool remove skin, and cut in half and remove seeds.
  7. Puree the tomatoes until smooth.
  8. In a large pot, heat oil.
  9. Saute onions and garlic until onions are almost clear.
  10. Add tomatoes, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf, tomato paste and sugar.
  11. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
  12. After two hours add fresh basil and oregano.
  13. Simmer for additional 2 hours.
  14. Once sauce is done simmering, add stick of butter and stir.
  15. Serve over pasta, chicken, or pizza!
  16. To freeze, place in large ziploc bags and freeze up to 6 months.
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