Miami has an abundance of local produce that often gets overlooked by much of the public. Part of it may have to do with lack of availability as local supermarket chains here are incredibly subpar and don't really bother with searching out local product. Another may just be unfamiliarity with what grows around us. Or it could even be that it's just easier to head to the supermarket and buy an apple than it is to head to a farmers market to search out and learn about starfruit. But as with many things in Miami, tastes are changing and people are slowly appreciating more and more what's around them.
A recent outting to the Pinecrest Farmers Market, one of the best in South Florida but, as with many others of its kind, prepared food and straight-from-wholesale produce vendors outnumbered local farmers by a longshot, was a little promising. Aside from Bee Haven Farms' usual killer assortment of locally grown mainstream produce (tomatoes, greens) and tropical only finds (canistels, rangpur limes) there was a small, minimally decorated stall that you can easily miss. In that stall you'll find an assortment of jams and jellies made exclusively from local product.
The producer is a small company called Ferme du Rochelois (Rochelois' Farm) located closeby in Homestead. You won't see grape or strawberry here, what you'll see find preserves made from starfruit, mangos and guava made with care by Haiti native "Cookie" (aka Cukita Bellande).
I tried a couple of Cookie's preserves and ended up buying jars of both. I'm a big fan of monstera deliciosa, the ridiculously finicky and intimidating fruit that looks like a cucumber that got the same radioactive isotope that made Bruce Banner turn into the Hulk. The fruit ripens in chunks and sheds its tiled shell in the process. The fruit itself has a banana-like texture, and sure enough that's the closest comparison as far as taste, but when used in preserves, the faint pineapple flavor of the fruit comes out to give you a flavor you're never had before. The second preserve that I went after was starfruit. Cookie explained that her starfruit preserves are made with three types of the fruit - one sweet, one tart and one that I completely forgot. Regardless, the result is a sweet/tart preserve, made sour by a bit of lime, that's more complex than any preserve I'd had before. Time relegated me from getting through the rest of Cookies offerings, but if they're anything like the monstera and starfruit preserves, I'll be adding more to my collection on my next visit.
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