• Jessica Pecush

The Culinary Wonders of Salt Spring Island, B.C. - Part I: The Salt Spring Island Saturday Market

A recent visit to Salt Spring Island, British Columbia (located in the Straight of Georgia) between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia), had me exploring the Gulf Islands for the very first time. WOW! I can't wait to go back!

Known as Canada's Island of the Arts, the Salt Spring Island Saturday Market in the heart of the town of Ganges brings together over 140 different vendors (food producers and artisans) to celebrate all that the locals and their operations have to offer, including stunning, organic produce (as seen below), preserves, farmstead cheeses, kombucha, sea salt and mouth-watering baking. One can also expect to relish in body care, pottery, jewellery, woodworking, fine art and photography and clothing!

According to saltspringmarket.com, the market motto is Make It, Bake It or Grow It! Therefore, all products available to market-goers must be vendor-produced and vendor-sold. My kind of market! Being able to talk to vendors about the sourcing and process behind their products is key! I was mainly interested in grazing through the food vendors; it's reassuring and exciting to learn about the food STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE!

I've since learned that Salt Spring Island possesses an international reputation as a hotbed of world-class artists and organic farmers; what a privilege to see this community in action, in their element. It truly is a sight to see! This island and community have so much to offer, and the best part is knowing that it's crafted in such a sustainable way! If only I'd had more room in my suitcase! ;)

The Salt Spring Island Saturday Market operates from Easter Weekend to the final Saturday in October, setting up rain or shine from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you have a dog, the dog will unfortunately need to sit this one out! Dogs are not permitted at the market; given the physical space between the vendors and how popular and busy of a place this is on a Saturday, it's for the best! ;)

For a full list of vendors at this market, you may visit www.saltspringmarket.com.

Ground cherries were a new encounter at this market! The ground cherry is a part of the "Solanaceae" or "Nightshade" family of foods - a family of flowering plants, which includes the tomato plant. As such, the ground cherry is closely related to gooseberries and tomatillos.

In speaking to the vendor selling them, I learned that ground cherries are grown individually in a papery husk, as seen in the photograph above. When you unwrap the cherry from its husk, you find the cherry to be about nickel-sized in diameter with a bright-yellow skin surface.

Ground cherries do not possess pits, but a fleshy, juicy interior with seeds, as you find within a tomato. While you sense a hint of tomato both in the texture and taste, the flavour is uniquely like a blend of strawberry and pineapple flavours - more exotic in nature! They are incredible refreshing and I was grateful for the exposure to something new!

Ground cherries can store for multiple weeks in their husks, in a paper bag within a refrigerator.


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