by Serena Ball in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, April 27, 2017
by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, March 16, 2017
One of the few truly seasonal foods, rhubarb is available now through the summer. Long red and green stalks of rhubarb are often used as a fruit – think pie, jam, and sweet-tart sauces – but it is actually a vegetable.
Perennial rhubarb plants must be subjected to a hard freeze in order to grow and flourish in the spring. Hearty Midwestern and Northern gardeners are rewarded for making it through the winter when rhubarb is one of the first plants – along with asparagus – to emerge from their gardens. Read more
by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, February 19, 2017
Grown throughout the world, radishes come in a surprising number of shapes, sizes, and colors, from the large, white daikon to the ping-pong ball sized red globe radish. They range in flavor too, from slightly peppery to seriously pungent. What they have in common is a satisfyingly crunchy texture and an ability to add fresh flavor to all sorts of dishes. Though they are in season all year long, they are at their peak from spring to summer. Look for them at local farmer’s markets, where you are likely to find varieties like the whimsically named French breakfast radish, an elongated red-skinned radish with a white tip and a mild flavor, striking black radishes that pack a seriously spicy punch, and gorgeous pale green watermelon radishes that reveal a hot pink interior once sliced.
Radishes belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables, and like cousins broccoli and cabbage, offer up a wealth of nutrition. They are particularly high in Vitamin C and contain fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals called indoles, which have a detoxifying effect on the body. What’s more: radishes have only 20 calories in an entire cup.
Choose radishes that are firm and free of cracks or brown spots. Before refrigerating them, snip off the greens and place the red bulbs in a plastic bag. If the greens are still crisp and not beginning to wilt, rinse them and refrigerate them separately. Plan on using the leaves within a day or so, as they won’t stay fresh for long. The radish bulbs can be stored up to two weeks. Read more
by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, February 3, 2017
With its florescent lime-green hue and funky spire-shaped florets, Romanesco looks a little like broccoli from another planet. In fact, its alien appearance earned it a cameo in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” (In one scene, Rey is shown biting into an apple studded with Romanesco florets, which drew commentary from famed astrophysicist and Star Wars fact-checker, Neil deGrasse Tyson.) In reality, this cruciferous veggie, sometimes referred to as Romanesco broccoli, is more closely related to cauliflower than broccoli. It’s also a bit crunchier with a milder, slightly nutty flavor. Though Romanesco has been on the menu in Italy since the 16th century, it didn’t make its debut in the United States until the late 90s. Until recently, it was found mostly at farmer’s markets. These days, however, you might spot it at your local supermarket during the fall and winter.
Like other members of the Brassica family, including kale and cabbage, Romanesco is high in Vitamins C and K, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Romanesco is also particularly high in carotenoids and phytochemicals.
When buying Romanesco, choose heads that are bright in color. The stem should be firm, with no signs of wilting. Any attached leaves should be perky and crisp. Pick it up: it should feel dense and heavy for its size. Store it in a sealed plastic bag and refrigerate for up to a week. Read more
by Dana Angelo White in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, August 14, 2016
Long popular in Italy and Spain, these ruby-hued oranges are now being cultivated in Texas and California. Available from December to April, blood oranges are often both sweeter and less tart than other types of oranges, with a pleasantly bitter edge. Some people say they can even detect a hint of raspberry flavor.
Blood Orange Facts:
Harvesting blood oranges in the winter, when they are at the peak of ripeness, ensures that they are highest in anthocyanins, the compound that gives them their vivid blood-red color. Anthocyanins are thought to help stave off heart disease and cancer, as well protect eye health. Blood oranges are also an excellent source of fiber and Vitamin C.
Choose firm oranges that are heavy for their size and store for a week at room temperature, or up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Read more
by Dana Angelo White in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, July 27, 2016
One of the best things about going to the farmers market is you never know what you might find. I ran to my local market in the hopes of picking up some tomatoes, but instead I simply couldn’t resist these neon-green tomatillos. If you’re intimidated by this member of the nightshade family, don’t be; they are easy to cook with, and there are many ways to enjoy them.
Also known as a “jamberry,” the tomatillo is related to the gooseberry. Tucked behind a papery husk is a bright green fruit that resembles a petite tomato. Tomatillos are firm, shiny and slightly sticky to the touch. Remove the husk and wash before enjoying them cooked or raw. There’s plenty of nutrition packed into these beauties: One cup contains 42 calories, 1 gram of unsaturated fat and 2 grams of both protein and fiber. There’s also potassium, niacin, iron and more than 25 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.
What to Do with Tomatillos
Choose tomatillos with intact husks and firm skin. They will keep at room temperature for a day or so and should then be stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator drawer for up to one month. Use them to create salsa (aka salsa verde) and guacamole. Blend them with chiles, cucumber, fresh herbs and vodka for a marvelous spin on a classic brunch cocktail. Read more
by Dana Angelo White in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, July 11, 2016
Fresh herbs are flourishing at the local markets. Head out and grab some basil to make these exciting and unexpected recipes.
Basil is rich in nutrients like vitamins A and C, plus it contains phytochemicals — good-for-you plant-based compounds. Since you probably don’t eat cups of herbs at a time, using small amounts daily in a wide range of recipes allows for the nutrients to stack up.
Basil options are more diverse than you might think. Look for beautiful bouquets of common varieties like “sweet” or “Christmas” for tomato sauce and salads. Try cinnamon basil on fruit salad or spicy Thai basil with noodle and rice dishes. The deep-purple leaves of opal basil make a showstopping pesto or pizza topper.
What to Do with Basil
Basil can be stored like flowers in a small glass of water on the counter for a couple of days. You can also store leaves loosely wrapped in a plastic bag with some paper towels in the veggie drawer of the fridge.
Stack those aromatic leaves on sandwiches, toss them into salad greens, or mash them into hummus, pesto and guacamole. Basil can also be used for dessert, incorporated into frozen treats like sorbet and ice pops. Read more
by Dana Angelo White in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, June 14, 2016
Few fruits taste as amazingly sweet and scrumptious as a freshly picked cherry. Head out to your local farmers market soon, as they are only available for a short time.
One cup of cherries contains 90 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein. You will also find about 10 percent of the daily requirement for potassium, 16 percent for vitamin C and 3 percent for iron. Cherries are rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins, powerful plant compounds that may help reduce the risk of heart cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
What to Do with Cherries
Enjoy cherries as part of snacks, baked goods, beverages and frozen treats. Accompany them with flavors like almond or vanilla to enhance the natural essence of this magnificent fruit. Sweet preparations are most intuitive, but the tangy flavor also works well in savory applications like salsas and pan sauces.
When at the market, look for cherries that are deep red in color, firm and unblemished. Once you bring them home, store them in the fridge wrapped in a plastic bag. You can also freeze pitted cherries for up to six months. Use this step-by-step guide to learn how to easily pit fresh cherries. Read more
by Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D. in Farmers' Market Finds, May 28, 2016
If you don’t think you’re a fan of fennel, it’s the perfect time of year to give this remarkable veggie another chance. Head to the farmers market and pick up these sweet and delicate young bulbs while the getting’s good.
These edible bulbs of fennel are referred to as the “Florence” or “finocchio” variety. Don’t be turned off by the anise descriptor often attached to this member of the carrot family. Fennel’s licorice essence is extremely subtle and becomes even more subdued when cooked.
Fennel also contains plentiful amounts of vitamins and minerals, including A, C, folate, calcium and potassium. One cup has fewer than 30 calories but 3 grams of hunger-fighting fiber. Read more
by Dana Angelo White in Healthy Tips, In Season, August 28, 2015
If you haunt your farmers market looking for signs of spring, you’re probably familiar with garlic scapes and broccoli rabe…they’re some of the first greens you’ll find. But scapes and rabe come in more varieties than garlic and broccoli. Here’s the skinny on what they are and what other varieties to look for.
What Are Scapes?
These shoots are one of the first edible greens to crop up in spring. Scapes are simply flower stalks that grow out of the bulbs of garlic, onions and leeks. At the top of each is a bulb that will flower if left unplucked. For eating, though, scapes are picked when the green stalk is sturdy and the bulb is still a bulb. Scapes taste like the alliums they grow from, and you can use them in places you would use chopped onion.
How to Use Scapes
To cook scapes, remove the bulbs and use the stalks. Chop them finely and saute to soften. Add them to omelets or quiche, blitz them into a pesto or preserve them by pickling. Read more
It’s peak tomato season at the local farmers market and the best time to explore heirloom varieties in all their imperfect glory. Read more