Summer Preserving: Buy Fruit In Bulk From Local Farms

We like to shop around at farmers markets for good deals on summer berries, cucumbers, and other fruit for summer cooking and preserving. But did you know you can get even better deals if you go straight to the source? In fact, many farms and farm stands offer bulk quantities of fruit for customers willing to buy 10 pounds of blackberries, 12 pints of strawberries, a batch of dill pickles' worth of cucumbers. This is how we discovered our latest prize: 10 pounds of tart, juicy cherries.

We got a tip (thanks Lisa!) that a couple farmstands close to the city would order pounds and pounds of sour cherries during the summer and make them available for pre-order. Then you go on the appointed day and lug home your big pail of sour cherries — all for a very low price.

One farm had them for much less than $2/pound. We opted for a pail that came in at a little more than $2/pound, though, because the cherries were already pitted! This is going to save us a lot of work when we turn them into jam and preserves.

It also made us realize, seeing the other kinds of fruit available for bulk order, that this is a much cheaper (and easier) way to get our fruit for summer preserving or wine-making. If you're looking for massive quantities of strawberries, plums, peaches, or apples, call around to your local farms and see if there are bulk options. You may find yourself saving a lot of money.

And now for the real question: what should we do with all our cherries? Cherry clafoutis has already been accomplished; what about the rest?

Related: Eat Cheap: Farmstands in the Country

(Images: Faith Durand)