Top 5 Tips for Shopping the Rochester Public Market

Fisher Hill Farm - Rochester Public Market

The Rochester Public Market is known for being one of the best markets in the area. There are very few cities and states lucky enough to have a market as robust.

Every week at the market, there are always a few people who let us know that they have just started coming to the market regularly. Sometimes it’s their first time! It’s great to see people discovering a treasure of local goods and services right in their backyard.

But if you’ve never been to the market, or if it’s been years, here are a few tips that can help you navigate unfamiliar territory. It can be a little overwhelming and we know it! It can get pretty busy during peak hours, so if you’re not one for crowds then the earlier the better. Thursdays are usually a lot less busy and if you are near downtown at all for work or otherwise, it can be a productive shopping event. We’re there on Thursdays from June through October. Click here to see our full market schedule.

Here are our top 5 tips for shopping at the Rochester Public Market:

#1 – Parking

This is by the far the thing that we hear the most about the market. Parking is difficult. It is downtown and parking is always at a premium. There are 5 city owned lots for parking. The largest is between Scio and Union. The second largest is between Pennsylvania and Railroad.

The red outlines the 2 largest city owned parking lots associated with the market.

There are also 3 smaller lots. Here’s the information from the Rochester Public Market website on the location of all the lots and where to access:

https://www.cityofrochester.gov/publicmarket/

Another option is to park near by and bike in. If you can’t get there early (before 10am) to get a prime parking spot in one of the free lots this can be a great and healthy option. We are seeing more and more people do this recently. There are some paid for parking areas too.

#2 Hauling

Now you’ve made it there but what the heck can you do about carrying all your great stuff? There are some great cart options out there and some stores sell them locally. But the best option is a good back pack. It doesn’t have to be the latest and greatest, but just something comfortable that you won’t mind walking with. Bring a lunchbox inside with a cold pack in it for meats and maybe an extra bag in case you find a watermelon or pumpkin that you can’t live without.

Look for a “Day Trip” backpack that is meant for hiking. They have lots of compartments and are meant to be comfortable on your back with weight in it. People also refer to them as rucksacks. An outdoor store like REI has them, as does Walmart. Find something comfortable and then you won’t mind wearing it.

#3 Money

There is at least one cash machine that we know of, but most vendors accept a card. But just to be on the safe side, bring some cash with you in case the vendor doesn’t accept a card. We do with no minimum, but we can’t speak for all vendors. Prices are usually clearly marked on the baskets. Cash or charge there probably won’t be any breaks. You make one break you gotta break for em all!

#4 Vendors

A very typical question is “Which ones are farmers and which ones are wholesalers?” That can be a tricky one, but there are a few tell tale signs your dealing with a farmer.

-They have a logo. You see a logo, it’s probably a farm. They probably have ‘farm’ in the name. Maybe on T-Shirts or the side of the truck.

Fisher Hill Farm - Rochester NY
The crew at Fisher Hill Farm – Rochester NY

-They have dirt. Could be on their hands, shoes, the truck, the boxes… somewhere there is dirt. We grow stuff. It grows in dirt. It’s hard to get it off everything.

-They tell you. When all else fails…ASK! Farmers will tell you if they grew it or not, if it’s on consignment from another farm, or if they traded with a farm, or who’s farm it’s from. Just ask.

Get to know your farmer and your favorite stop at the market and follow them on social media. You’ll know what’s coming out and what’s in season and what other markets they’ll be at.

The wholesalers can have some great stuff and you shouldn’t count them out! But since we’re a local farm we like to see local farms get most of the business!

#5 Restrooms

There are public restrooms in the updated indoor B shed. It’s the main building with the Public Market sign on the front. There are also restrooms in the middle brick building as well. Some businesses may have restrooms but we can’t endorse whether they are open to the public or not. The best option is the B shed. The new bathrooms are updated and very nice. The staff keep them clean even on the busiest days. Thank you very much to the hard workers at the market.

These are probably the most common questions that come up. We hope your market experience is excellent. Getting the freshest local ingredients leads to the best meals.

Use Rainbow Chard Stems to make Salsa

What to make with Chard Stems - Fisher Hill Farm

It’s a common question. Rainbow Chard is a popular farmers market item but tossing those stems seems like a waste. People often ask what we do with them.

There’s a few things you can do. You can sautee them in a pan separate from the leaf and then add it together, or make a separate dish with them altogether with a little garlic. You can add them into a hash or into a quiche. But one of the most fun things to do is make salsa.

Chard salsa is super easy to make, is very sweet, can easily be made spicy, and goes really great with our eggs and chicken. You more than likely have everything you need in your kitchen to make it already, but we have a version straight from the farmers market that will kick your afternoon snack into high gear.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

One market bunch of Rainbow Chard stems (leaves removed)

3 or 4 Scapes

1 Spring onion

1 fresh lemon

Salt and pepper

(hot pepper optional)

WHAT YOU’LL DO:

Fine chop the Chard, Onion, and Scapes. Squeeze the fresh lemon over it. Add the salt and pepper (add a hot pepper to your liking or hot sauce). Mix well. Cover. Put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. That’s it.

The lemon juice will break down the chard stem just enough to make it easier to eat. This might be done just as well with a lime. But lemon goes well with the flavor the chard stem gives and also helps keep everything from getting brown.

Here’s a super quick video that shows the process:

It’s so simple! Just make sure to cut everything pretty small so it has more surface area to react with the lemon and is easy to chew.

We have used this for a quick dip, to top our tacos, or to throw over some eggs. It tastes even better after a day in the fridge but isn’t necessary.

If you’ve been throwing your chard stems away, this is a quick way to make something new with what you didn’t use before. We want you to come away from the market with as much food to stock up your house as possible.

If you decide to try this recipe, we’d love to hear from you. If you know of another way to use chard stems or any of our other products, we’d love to hear from you! We’ve learned more from our customers over the years than we could ever learn in a lifetime on how our products are best used.

We don’t like to see waste! Compost what you don’t use or check out ways to use every last drop of what the earth gives us. If we share these recipes and ideas we can reduce waste and get some really cool recipes and ideas out there.

Thanks everyone. We can’t wait to see you at the next market.

What Else Can I Make with Turnips?

Fisher Hill Farm - Rochester New York

Turnip cakes have a fresh and spicy taste and goes well with everything.

Some of our customers have been asking about turnips lately. We have some fresh turnips that we have been bringing with us to the market and there’s a number of people who have never had them before. The easiest thing to do with them is cut them up and eat them with a pinch of salt!


They can be roasted, sautéed, or steamed just as easily too. But in the past, we have made turnip cakes with them, or maybe one giant turnip pancake and split it up with a pizza cutter. It’s not too much work and can be a side, a main dish, or an appetizer.

Fisher Hill Farm - Rochester New York
Fisher Hill Farm – Rochester New York

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

A bunch of turnips (its usually between 3 and 6 depending on size)

Couple cloves of garlic

2 Eggs

1/2 cup of flour (maybe a little more)

Salt and pepper to your liking

Fisher Hill Farm - Rochester New York
Fisher Hill Farm – Rochester New York

WHAT YOU’LL DO:

Shred the turnips. We used a Cuisinart but you can do it by hand with a grater. After you’ve got them shredded up, squeeze out as much water as you can. Just using your hands should be good enough. Chop the garlic and throw it in there along with the shredded turnips. Add the 2 eggs and mix well with salt and pepper. Then add the flour (depending on how much water you were able to squeeze out you may need more) and mix well.

Fisher Hill Farm - Rochester New York
Fisher Hill Farm – Rochester New York

It shouldn’t stick together in a tight ball, but add just enough flour for the mixutre to stay together without completely coming apart. Grease a pan and flatten it into a pancake. We have a big non stick frying pan so we could fit all of ours in one pan to make one giant pancake. You can easily cook them in batches. Or really however you like. The thickness of a regular pancake you’d get at the diner is perfect.

Once they’re browned on both sides, they’re done, about 6 minutes on each side with medium high heat. You can serve them up immediately hot. We had ours with a bit of arugula, some sour cream, and some radish relish. But they’re really good cold too, dipped in a little ranch dressing!

Fisher Hill Farm - Rochester New York
Turnip Cakes with Sour Cream and Radish Relish – Fisher Hill Farm

Turnips are versatile veggies that don’t get enough attention. As great as this recipe is and as awesome as so many recipes can be, we still think that a fresh turnip with a pinch of salt is still the best way to eat them!

What to do with a lot of Fresh Strawberries

Fisher Hill Farm Fresh Local Strawberry Rochester New York

When strawberries are in season it’s time to think long term.

It’s a short burst of a season marking the true beginning of summer. When school is about to let out the fields are bursting with green and bright red. The aggregate fruit, that it technically not a berry, is one of the most popular crops we offer and usually has the most buzz about it. The season is here now and they are abundant. So how can we make the season last?

Can I freeze fresh strawberries?

Absolutely. You can slice them, crush them, liquefy them or keep them whole. They freeze well. If you do keep them whole, when they thaw they more than likely not act like a strawberry out of the field, but that doesn’t mean they don’t retain the fresh flavor of summer. Freeze them first individually on a sheet pan before transferring to a freezer bag (make sure they are actually freezer bags and not just plastic bags.) Once they are in the plastic bag, close the zip on the bag except for one tiny corner. Insert a straw and suck all the air out that you can before pulling the straw out and closing the bag. This will keep the freezer burn away.

How do you dehydrate a Strawberry?

The first step is to wash them up. Next you have to make sure the stem is removed completely. If you have a dehydrator you can cut them into strips and set it for 135 degrees for 10 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, no problem! Cut them into quarters and place them cut side up on a baking sheet. Put them in the oven on the lowest setting on the top shelf at 200 degrees. If the oven is running hot, crack the door open (but be careful!) This isn’t a perfect science so you may want to move the sheet around the oven a few times and watch how long they’ve been in.

Want to know if your strawberries have been completely dried? Place them in a glass jar about half full for a week, shaking the jar a couple times per day. If you notice condensation showing up the strawberries need a little more drying time.

Canning, Preserving, and Jellies

You can can strawberries but the water takes away from the flavor. There is a way to extract the juice from the strawberries to use as the preservation liquid, but we’ve never tried it and so can’t recommend that. Strawberry preserves and jam are great options and those can later be used in other dishes, like cookies! They keep well in the panty and make great gifts!

The season goes by quick. One of the best times of year is the first time you bite into a fresh local strawberry. The ones we get all winter at the grocery store can curb a craving, but there isn’t a substitute for a fresh local strawberry!

Smoke Box Chicken

One of the great things about the summer months is getting a good barbecue going. We wanted an easy way to get smokehouse chicken without worrying about burning our dinner.

There’s actually two ways you can use this Smoke Box. You can load it up and put it directly on your gas grill or you can get some hot coals and place it on them. We chose to try it that way because it was slightly more adventurous for a blog post! But putting the box on the grill makes it even easier and allows you to choose a temperature.

The smoker box.

The first step is to prepare the raw chicken. We used a store bought barbecue dry rub for the legs. We coated them in the morning and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge. For the breast, we poured a little Italian dressing over it and put it in the fridge. Simple preparation is often times the best!

We got our fire going and let it die down to just some hot coals. If you choose to use your grill make sure you preheat it to the desired temp you want to smoke at.

To load the smoke box you soak the wood chips in water about 30 minutes before loading them in the box. Place the wood chips down and then the tray with the meat on it, then close the box up.

The wood chip layer.
The meat goes on top of the wood chips on tray that inserts.
Smoke box goes on top of the coals.

The legs are smaller so they were going to be done a lot sooner. Make sure you use a thermometer to get the cooking temp right. Chicken should be at 180. The legs did cook a bit quicker, but they only took about 45 minutes on the fire before they were done. You could actually smell that they were done and boy oh boy did it smell delicious!

Smoked chicken legs.

We brushed on a little bit of barbecue sauce at the end and let it dry up a little on the leg before taking them off. They were incredible, soaking up a good amount of the smoke flavor without masking the dry rub. The sweet sauce was a nice little addition and added the right amount of sugar to it.

The breast took a bit longer. But we were really thinking that it was going to make excellent sandwiches after it was cold. We were right. It was. But we couldn’t help cutting into it when it was still hot.

Smoked chicken breast on the bone.

Overall this was a tasty experiment. It might be easier to just put the box on the grill and smoke it that way, but it was fun to have a fire and make a bigger even out of it. The chicken was delicious.

We’ll have fresh chicken all summer long for all your grilling and smoking needs!

Come visit us at the market!