By Assemblyman Alex Sauickie
As a member of the Assembly Agriculture and Food Insecurity Committee, I would be remiss if I didn’t write a summer item on the Jersey Fresh program and thank all our farmers, both commercial and backyard, for the work you do in putting the “garden” in the “Garden State.”
Through your efforts, New Jersey is the home of more than 100 different varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs. We also rank nationally in the top 10 as a producer of blueberries, peaches, bell peppers, squash, tomatoes and cranberries.
The Jersey Fresh program was originally launched in 1984, under former Governor Tom Kean, to help farmers inform consumers about the availability and variety of fruits and vegetables grown in New Jersey. Through the many years of the program run by the Department of Agriculture, consumers’ awareness has increased, and it has become the benchmark for other states to initiate their own state-grown agricultural marketing programs.
Today you see the Jersey Fresh logo in supermarkets and roadside stands. It draws your attention to the freshest and most nutritious produce in the store. It and the farm-to-table movement have been so successful in driving local food purchases that even some counties have developed their own labels and logos.
I want to give a special shout out to outgoing Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher for his years of service to the state and to the Jersey Fresh program. I had the pleasure of being with him at the Rutgers facility in Upper Freehold in June at an event hosted by the New Jersey Beekeepers Association.
His department hosts the Jersey Fresh website findjerseyfresh.com, which provides not only the locations for the purchase of Jersey Fresh but also recipes using Jersey Fresh products. Here is one of those recipes:
- 2 large, Jersey Fresh apples, cut into 1⁄4” pieces. 2 boxes puff pastry, thawed
- 2/3 cup caramel sauce
- 1⁄2 cup walnuts, crushed (optional)
- Flaky sea salt, to taste
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
- 20m prep / 15m cook time
- Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
- Unfold pastry onto a flat surface. Use a 3” circular biscuit cutter to cut out rounds (you should have 36 rounds)
- Place half of the rounds on parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheets. Spoon 1 tablespoon of apples into the center leaving a 1⁄4” border. Top apples with 1 tsp caramel, some walnuts (if using) and a pinch of sea salt.
- Brush pastry border with water. Top each filled round with a second round. Using a fork, crimp edges together sealing to avoid any leaking. Brush tops with egg.
- Cut a couple small slits into the top of each pie. Bake pies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Serve warm (with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you’d like!).
As the summer bounty builds to an overflowing capacity, remember to share the harvest with friends and neighbors so that we can all enjoy our “Garden State.”
Alex Sauickie is a life-long Jackson resident who represents his home town and 13 other towns in the State Assembly. Follow him on Facebook (/AssemblymanAlex) and on Instagram (@AssemblymanAlex), or visit his website at AssemblymanAlex.com.
Note: This opinion piece originally appeared in The Jackson Times by Jersey Shore Online in its publication dated August 5, 2023.