I like to buy from local businesses. What are some local foods that I can give for the holidays and where can I get them?
Food gifts can be a great solution for those hard-to-buy-for relatives and friends. North Country businesses and farms offer a bounty of products, ranging from familiar comfort foods to rare gourmet treats. Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Local Food Guide is a great starting point to identify farms near you. Many offer products in the winter, ranging from maple syrup to dried shitake mushrooms to gift certificates for frozen meat.
Instead of buying from an expensive mail-order company, consider assembling a gift basket of local products yourself. Fill it with an assortment of cheese, beef jerky, summer sausage, jams, condiments, pickled vegetables, pretzels, crackers, and more. Most farmstands and grocers still have local apples that can freshen up the mix. Make it all the more special by using a handmade basket from an Amish farmstand or a local craft fair.
If you are short on time, stop by the Taste NY store in the North Country Welcome Center in Alexandria Bay, or the new pop-up store in the Salmon Run Mall. Both feature food gift items from throughout the state, with an emphasis on those grown in the North Country. They offer both premade and create-your-own gift baskets. If you call ahead, they will even tailor-make a basket to your liking for grab-and-go convenience. Gift cards are also available.
An easy gift, whether by the bottle or the case, would be wine, hard cider, liqueur, or craft beer from the 1000-Islands Seaway Wine Trail. A handy list of businesses is available on the 1000-Islands visitor’s website. For a more opulent gift, pair gift certificates from wineries along the trail with a hotel reservation at a local bed and breakfast, promising a fun-filled day of sightseeing for the recipient.
For the ultimate in locally-grown goodness, consider purchasing a seasonal share of produce from a CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The recipient will receive a weekly allotment of fresh and seasonal produce, typically from spring through October, although some CSAs even offer winter subscriptions. Many CSAs offer options for local meats and dairy products as well.
For a last-minute gift, consider locally-made cheese curds and summer sausage. These are available at Taste NY stores, most grocery stores, and many convenience stores in the area. Add a bottle of local wine, craft beer, or cider from a local liquor store for a surely memorable gift.
Question answered by Mike Nuckols, Local Foods and Horticulture Program Manager at Cornell Cooperative Extension Jefferson County. Reach Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated December 6, 2019