A Food Tour of Concord, MA: Part Three

And now, a visit to a bakery in West Concord where bread is made…slowly, and a glimpse of how Pete Lowy and Jen Hashley raise their animals.

5.) Nashoba Brook Baking Company, 152 Commonwealth Ave., West Concord

Bread Baking at Nashoba Brook Baking Company

Few things can beat the smell of freshly baked bread. At Nashoba Brook Baking Company in West Concord, this is no exception. What is extraordinary, however, is the company’s commitment to the slow-rise baking method. Because Nashoba bakers allow their dough to rise twice—sometimes three—times, their breads are often tolerable to those with gluten allergies. Extra hours of rising, in batches large enough to fit in trash barrels, allow enzymes to break down complex carbohydrates more thoroughly, easing digestion and our ability to access the bread’s nutrients.

Immediately inside the bakery (and to the left of a long, wooden table, where several men were speaking Spanish and slinging pretzel dough) are two massive French ovens. Weighing 32,000 pounds each and built on-site, these steam-injected, cyclothermic structures (scientific terms for the process of crisping baked goods at a consistent rate, as well as preventing them from drying out) were an important investment–to which a bite of Nashoba’s 7-grain bread, with its thin crust and thick, doughy interior, filled with wiggly raisins and pops of toasted grains, will attest.

True to its location, Nashoba Brook Baking Company sits above the babbling Nashoba Brook, at the end of Beharrel St., an intriguing area of West Concord where many small businesses (including To Die For Dips, to-be-featured in the final installment of this Concord Food Tour) are getting their start.

The bakery’s co-founders, John Gates and Stuart (Stu) Witt, took wild Concord grapes from Nashoba’s riverside to make their original sourdough starter. Today, however, John and Stu and their team of bakers offer far more than that traditional loaf. They bake a whole wheat sourdough, a French loaf, a baguette and a Harvest Loaf (with apricots, figs, cranberries, pecans, walnuts, and candied ginger nestled in the dough), as well as olive, rosemary garlic and raisin loaves.

Visit their café in West Concord for an array of dazzling pastries as well.

6.) Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds, 159 Wheeler Rd., Concord

Pete Lowy amid his chickens

No doubt many readers of Public Radio Kitchen enjoy pastured meat; however, I doubt many of us have actually considered committing our lives to raising–and slaughtering–our own animals for food.

Pete Lowy and Jen Hashley of Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds are exceptional people in that regard. The couple have put their livelihoods where their mouths are, as it were, by raising their own chickens, pigs and rabbits in addition to working full-time day jobs (Pete is the Assistant Farm Manager at Verrill Farm; Jen is the Director of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project at Tufts University). All their animals live naturally, spending a great deal (if not all) of their time foraging outdoors.

When it comes time for slaughter, Pete and Jen try to do as much as they can on their farm–and they encourage others to do the same. “Having control over your product from start to finish,” Jen explains, “ensures your animals are treated humanely every step of the way.” Transporting animals to a slaughterhouse, she notes, can be incredibly stressful, resulting in meat that is tougher and less healthful than meat from animals who die peacefully.

For those raising chickens in Massachusetts, slaughtering close to home is particularly challenging. There is only one poultry processing facility in New England (Westminster Meats in Vermont), so Jen designed a Mobile Poultry Processing Unit (MPPU)–a trailer with equipment that meets the legal standards for poultry processing, available to farmers at a lower cost than constructing their own facility.

Although Pete and Jen are required by USDA law to send their pigs to Athol, MA, to be slaughtered, they make sure to spend some quality time with these playful pets before bidding goodbye.

You can purchase meat and eggs from Pete and Jen by visiting their farm store or ordering online. You won’t be disappointed by the clean, earthy taste of what’s in their fridge. This is how animal products should be.

Next up: Concord Teacakes for readers with a sweet-tooth, balanced with fresh produce and local products from Verrill Farm.

3 thoughts on “A Food Tour of Concord, MA: Part Three

  1. Adrienne

    I had the opportunity to volunteer at Pete & Jen’s for a chicken processing day last month. It was an amazing experience with people who clearly care a lot about their animals. I can’t wait to go back and do it again!

  2. Pingback: A Food Tour of Concord, MA: Part Four | Public Radio Kitchen

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