D’Amico’s Flower Farm, Closter, NJ: Farm Fresh Produce Sourced From 200 Mile Radius

Cheese pumpkins and other beautiful squash, starting at $5 - cheese pumpkins are ideal for baking
Cheese pumpkins and other beautiful squash, starting at $5 – cheese pumpkins are ideal for baking

Ask John D’Amico of D’Amico’s Flower Farm which apple is ideal for baking and you will get an answer as well as an in-depth explanation of how the texture of different varieties are impacted by weather. Traveling up to 200 miles multiple times each week to local farmers for what he considers the best in seasonal produce, eggs, cheese, cider (Melick’s non-preserved only from Hunterdon County), John groups these edibles along with plants and herbs under the modestly sized stand his family has managed for generations. On these darker, colder days of fall, I recently found a beautiful bounty of 12″ broccoli heads and cauliflower, just begging to be turned into pureed soups:

Jumbo heads of broccoli, $4 - a steal
Jumbo heads of broccoli, $4 – a steal
Equally reasonable heads of cauliflower - perfect for a quick saute and adding to pasta
Equally reasonable heads of cauliflower – perfect for a quick saute and adding to pasta

One of my favorite ways to serve cauliflower is to steam it until fork tender and add a splash of chicken stock, plenty of butter and grated parmigiano reggiano, then blend with an immersion hand blender.

Giant brussel sprouts, $3 per stalk
Giant brussel sprouts, $3 per stalk

Check out these massive brussel sprouts that look like they were just harvested. At $3.50/stalk, they offer another great buy from this small family farm stand. I love them roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper or steamed and sauced with lemon, butter and Worcestershire, a la New Orleans kitchens. These flavorful cabbage cousins are at peak season now and can even be julianned in salads.

Celeriac, either steamed and pureed or sliced matchstick style into salads or slaw
Celeriac, try either steamed and pureed or sliced matchstick style into salads or slaw

These gnarly celeriac knobs are beautiful and also competitively priced. A little patience and creativity goes a long way with these flavorful tubers.

Parsnip and rutabega not first on your shopping list? Great for an alternative to plain mashed white potatoes and loaded with vitamins.

Parnsip and rutabega
Parnsip and rutabega
Jersey tomatoes
Jersey tomatoes

I continue to buy these (sometimes in baskets half price when a bit bruised) to turn into soups, sauces and slicing into salads and sandwiches until John has no more.

Bosc pears
Bosc pears

Bosc pears are flavorful, hearty pears that remain unscathed in my kids’ lunch boxes since their skin is a bit firmer. They are juicy and full of sweetness. If we don’t eat them quickly enough and they soften and get mushy, they get tossed into a pot of steaming bruised apples (the more varieties the better), a couple inches of cinnamon stick and a half inch of water for apple sauce making. If I don’t have the good fortune of fresh or frozen cranberries on hand, I’ll throw in a handful of dried cranberries for their beautiful pink radiance and tang. But look what John just happened to get in!

NJ Cranberries
NJ Cranberries

I will use about four boxes of these beauties to make my Thanksgiving cranberry relish which is 100% raw. RAW!  I wash the cranberries and toss in my food processor fit with the steel blade, then puree with the peel of a washed navel orange, its juice, a small knob of fresh ginger, along with Vermont maple syrup to taste. This chunky relish is beautiful and delicious, not to mention packed with vitamin C.

Plenty of squash
Plenty of squash

No shortage of hard-fleshed squash at D’Amico’s.  At under $1/pound, it’s also well-priced with butternut and other varieties available through December 1.

and these decorative varieties, perfect for strewing about on buffet tables or down the center of your holiday table punctuated by tea candles
I love these decorative varieties, perfect for strewing about on buffet tables or down the center of your holiday table punctuated by tea candles
apples galore
apples galore

Bins of apples at D’Amico’s rotate multiple times weekly, so new varieties are always being added. Great pricing on wine sap and honey crisp and my favorite, pink lady. Not certified organic, but not sprayed.  John’s quite picky about how produce is grown.  Ask him about this.

What’s not shown in this post are shelves groaning with honey, preserves, chutneys and mustard as well as two large refrigerator cases filled with at least two varieties of mushrooms, kale, celery, herbs, baby arugula, beets (John won’t take them when they grow over a certain size) and carrots.  His offerings change on a daily basis.  Fresh Melick’s cider is available, along with fresh mozzarella, freshly ground horseradish, white potatoes, red bliss potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes, onions, leeks and much more.

Patronizing small business is what drives our economy and keeps families surviving economically from one generation to the next. This is one business worth patronizing not merely for the pristine quality of its offerings and the knowledge and passion of its owner, but also because it is a local business supporting local farmers. Through Thanksgiving, the Flower Farm will offer produce, plants (poinsettias soon) and then Christmas trees, wreaths and holiday plants after December 1.

November hours: 10:30AM-5:30PM 7 days, call for special orders, flower baskets and hours in December
460 Demarest Ave, Closter, NJ 07624
Phone:  (201) 767-1009

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