Foodstuffs

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

As the temperature drops and the leaves begin changing, we know that autumn is finally here. But these days, nothing signifies the start of fall like return of pumpkin flavor.

University of New Hampshire

A lot of people start sentences like this: “ever since I was very small….”  

Few people finish that sentence “… diversity, genetic diversity in plants has been a total driver of my passion.”

That, however, is what Becky Sideman told me, sitting at a lab bench inside of one of University of New Hampshire’s expansive greenhouses. 

Sean Hurley

The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train in Lincoln is exactly that.  Part train, part restaurant, the Cafe rolls down 20 miles of track serving five course meals to passengers over a 2 hour trip. NHPR's Sean Hurley rode along on this moveable feast on rails and sends us this.  

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Apple growers say good growing weather means they are expecting a bumper crop this year, but when the pick-your-own customers get to the orchards they may notice some changes.

NHPR Staff

Autumn in New Hampshire means foliage, fairs, and yes, picking your own apples at one of the state's many orchards. 

At a lot of farms, "pick-your-own" or "PYO" is much more than an opportunity to buy the freshest fruit. It's also a chance to take a hay ride, watch a cider press in action, and perhaps most important, to eat some homemade cider donuts. 

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Egg is dripping down Jeff Colt’s bare back as he stands in the kitchen of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Greenleaf Hut just below Mount Lafayette. Such is the peril of carrying about 28 pounds of eggs along with 50 pounds of other food.

But then again, running a restaurant high in The White Mountains is a little different than running one in Portsmouth, Laconia or Colebrook.

Peter Biello / NHPR

In the southwestern United States, the cost of harvesting chili peppers is rising, and competitors in Mexico have the advantage of cheaper labor. Enter Nag Kodali, an inventor from Pelham, New Hampshire. He’s invented a device that could help mechanize the chili harvesting process. 

At a machine shop in North Billerica, Massachusetts, Nag Kodali makes a few adjustments to his creation: a roughly twelve-foot long system of conveyor belts designed to gently remove pepper stems.

Brady Carlson / NHPR

At first glance, Summer Freeze, in the Concord village of Penacook, looks like every ice cream stand you’ve ever seen, with a walk-up counter offering cones, sundaes, banana splits. But look closely at the menu and you’ll find some surprises.

File photos

It's late August, and that means right now, it's the sweet spot for locally grown food. This brief time allows Granite Staters to harvest what's been growing all summer, and we also get to look forward to the fall picking season. Apples, pumpkins, and more.

Joining me now to talk about the state of New Hampshire's agriculture is George Hamilton, with the UNH Cooperative Extension.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

It’s a hot, sunny day in August and the outdoor courtyard at Elm Street Middle School is hopping with activity. There’s laugher, chatter, almost a playground-like atmosphere. 

But these aren’t kids assembling construction kits. They’re 150 adult volunteers from Fidelity in Merrimack who on this workday would rather hammer nails than manage money. Science instructor Denise Rock is one of the two teachers who raised funds for the micro-garden project. 

Chris Jensen for NHPR

At this time of year farms across the state are brimming with corn and tomatoes, zucchini and beans.  And if you stop by one of those farms to pick up some of that fresh produce it’s then up to you to find a way to prepare it at home.  But at Ski Hearth Farm in Sugar Hill you can pick up dinner such as new potatoes with season pesto; chilled chickpea-tahini soup and a salad, all ready to go.

Davis and Tina Mangold recently bought the well-known farm once owned by Sel Hannah. And it was their idea to start preparing carry out dinners.

Sean Hurley

In 2012, the New Hampshire Mushroom Company was producing two hundred pounds of mushrooms a week in their 5000 square foot farm-warehouse in Tamworth - and struggling to sell them.  Three years later, with seven full-time employees, the farm can't keep up with the demand, selling out their weekly stock of 1,200 pounds of edible fungus usually within 24 hours. 

Dennis Chesley, part owner of the New Hampshire Mushroom Company, says there's very little gray area when it comes to mushrooms.  It's either love or hate -

Courtesy: NH Agricultural Research Station

Walking in among the rows of more than a 100-varieties of cold-hardy kiwis planted at his UNH observational vineyard, Professor Iago Hale says forget those fuzzy brown kiwis, if you really want flavor, try his plants. 

“Right off the bat you’re dealing with a much, much sweeter fruit, but it’s not cloyingly sweet,” he says squinting against the morning sun, “It also has a lot of acid to it, so it has this really complex flavor to it, a lot of tropical kind of flavors: pineapple, mango, papaya – I mean they’re amazing!”

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

The headquarters of the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter on Quincy Street has three stories and 14,000 square feet aimed at feeding people in need. But executive director Lisa Christie thought there was one part of the property that could do even more for the organization’s mission.

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

The late June morning grows warmer as seven refugee farmers till their new plots at Lewis Farm in Concord. This is the second "incubator" farm established by the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success, or ORIS. After the success of their first location, the organization established another to meet the interest of their clients.

Hannah McCarthy for NHPR

When Gabe Rogers talks about beer, it’s with the casual confidence of an expert chemist. Rogers is the co-founder of Garrison City Beerworks in Dover, New Hampshire. It’s that depth of knowledge – which translates into the quality of his beers - that first caught the attention of his business partner Mike Nadeau.

NHPR / Brady Carlson

Small Plates is a roundup of New Hampshire food news.

Jacob Carozza /NHPR

In New Hampshire, it’s not easy to find a package of JG Coconut Mushrooms, or a jar of clotted cream, or a can of mushy peas.

“Any dinner you would have with a pie you have mushy peas on the side,” says Stephanie Pressinger, president of The British Aisles in Greenland.

“Someone who hasn’t been to England or doesn’t know the culture would say, ‘Why would you want mushed peas?’”

Small Plates is a roundup of New Hampshire food news.

Here is the most dramatic, exciting news I could find about Market Basket in June 2015: the grocery chain is going to open a new store in Rochester next spring.

Foodstuffs: A Bakery Where Everyone Is Included

Jun 18, 2015
Brady Carlson / NHPR

If a bakery does its work right, there will be something for every customer. Katie Johnson, the owner of From Scratch Baking Company in Wolfeboro, shows off her offerings: cases of peanut butter brownies, red velvet cupcakes, and salted chocolate cookies. 

  Small Plates is a roundup of New Hampshire food news.

Runs With Scissors via Flcikr/Creative Commons

USDA Undersecretary, Kevin Concannon visited New Hampshire this week to talk poverty and food policy with social service providers, meet with high school students, and visit a farmers market. I caught up with him and asked about local food and SNAP benefits; local food in schools -- and how behavioral economists are influencing the USDA's "Smarter Lunchrooms" program. 

  Small Plates is a roundup of New Hampshire food news.

Brady Carlson / NHPR

The weekday morning rush is in full effect at the McDonald’s in Concord’s South End. Customers are ordering Egg McMuffins at the counter; commuters are lined up in the drive-thru lane.

Oh, and nine members of the Concord Police Department are here, including Lieutenant John Thomas.

Foodstuffs Small Plates: Dean Kamen, Restaurateur?

Jun 1, 2015

  Foodstuffs Small Plates: Dean Kamen, Restaurateur?

Small Plates is a roundup of New Hampshire food news.

With all of this warm weather, it definitely feels like summer. But it isn’t yet.  And for local farmers, it’s still too early to produce local crops. And that means restaurant owners using locally sourced food are still looking for new solutions to get through the trickiest time of year: the long, cold winters. But now Farm to Table Restaurants are getting farmers to consider new methods for supplying produce in the lean months.

Foodstuffs Small Plates: Dos Amigos Departs Manchester

May 26, 2015

Small Plates is a roundup of New Hampshire food news.

Colin Grey/flickr

Memorial Day weekend is upon us, marking the unofficial start of summer.

With the warm weather, farmers markets are opening for the season across the Granite State, but there aren't as many here as there used to be.

(Click here for the Department of Agriculture's directory of farmers markets for 2015, with times and dates)

Jane Lang is president of the New Hampshire Farmers Market Association. She joined Morning Edition to explain why.

rows of crops
Brady Carlson / NHPR

Years ago, the members of the community at Canterbury Shaker Village grew their own food, and sold some of the surplus to residents in the area. There hasn’t been farming on the site for a number of years. That’s why farm manager Stacey Cooper was pleasantly surprised to find the soil in such good shape.

"I was a bit surprised that the nutrient analysis was as balanced as it was," Cooper said, as she looked over the roughly 3/4ths of an acre that make up her farmland. "It didn't need much at all - a testament to how well they took care of their land."

Sean Hurley

Polly and "Sugar Bill" Dexter opened Polly's Pancake Parlor in 1938.  That first year they served a few hundred customers in a carriage shed that sat 65.  Last year, in the same old shed, Polly's granddaughter Kathie Aldrich Cote and her husband Dennis, served nearly 60,000.  The Cote's realized it was time to tear the old shed down and build a new Polly's from the ground up.

Though he's looked everywhere, Dennis Cote can't seem to find his hammer.

"I've spent hours just looking for my hammer in this building."

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