Farmers Market Update: Late Harvest

by | Nov 22, 2008

jumbo carrots

Another lovely day at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. It is the weekend before Thanksgiving, and busy shoppers were scurrying about to pick up essential ingredients for the upcoming feast.

My time at the market was bittersweet today because although I am delighted to be taking most of next week off to visit family, I had to limit my shopping to the things I can eat in the next few days.

So as not to disappoint, what I did not buy I was sure to photograph.

Root and cruciferous vegetables are still the dominant forces at the stands, as well as pears and persimmon fruit. But this would not be one of the best markets in the country if our selection stopped there.

I wish all of you could have been with me today to see the GIGANTIC porcini mushrooms. They were incredible, like something out of Alice in Wonderland. What would someone even do with a 6 lb mushroom?

Another welcome highlight today was the nut selection. Fresh walnuts, almonds and chestnuts were available and I cannot wait to buy some when I get back.

Winter greens like bok choy, collards and kale are abundant and looking delicious. You can also still find green tomatoes and grapes if you want to try out Mark Bittman’s green tomato pizza recipe before they disappear.

Leeks have substantially increased in diameter in the past month, but now we are also seeing more traditional onions like shallots. These are small, almost purple onions that have a mild flavor. I love them because they are delicate enough to use in almost any dish and are perfect for single servings. Large, strong flavored yellow onions that are found at most grocery stores are less useful to me unless I am making something that cooks for a long time (like soup).

After last week’s controversy about parsnips, I decided to give them another try this weekend. I also bought some more sunchokes (a recipe will come eventually, I promise). I am thinking about making a parsnip-sunchoke soup. But I may wimp out on this idea if I start worrying too much about the flavor profile of those crazy parsnips. We’ll see. I would like to know what you guys think.

I made one rare find today that is worth mentioning: kaffir lime leaves. For those of you who are not familiar with them, these fragrant leaves give off a distinct lime-like smell and flavor that is the essence of Thai soup. At first glance they appear like a regular leaf, however they grow in a unique “double” leaved pattern. I have found these gems at a few Asian markets around the city, but this is the first time I have seen them at the farmers market. If you end up buying them, be sure to store them in the freezer to extend their lifespan.

In this picture there are a few kaffir limes (fruit) hidden in there too!

Last but not least–and this is huge–for those of you who do not know yet Scharffen Berger chocolate has finally come out with “baking chunks.” That’s baking code for chocolate chips! They are available in both bittersweet (70% cacao) and semi-sweet (62% cacao) varieties. Hooray!

If you are into baking you know that there is a tremendous shortage of quality chocolate chips on the market. (I’m a snob who thinks Ghirardelli should fall off the planet. Don’t get me started on Nestle and Hershey.) Until now, if you wanted to use high-quality chocolate chunks in your baking you would have to buy a bar of Scharffen Berger or Valrhona and cut them up yourself, a painful and messy process. Scharffen Berger chocolate chips are something I have been dreaming about for a long, long time.

Today’s purchases:

  • Parsnips
  • Sunchokes
  • Meyer lemons
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Leeks
  • Padrones
  • Fuyu persimmons
  • Fuji apples
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Olallieberry jam
  • Scharffen Berger chocolate chunks (both kinds)

I hope at least some of you made it to the market today for your Thanksgiving goodies. I will not be in San Francisco for the market next week, but I do plan to visit one of the big markets down in southern California.

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10 Responses to “Farmers Market Update: Late Harvest”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow, those are gnarly lookin’ carrots!

  2. Mike says:

    Olallieberry jam and Scharffenberger all in one trip, you’re really going for it! How much were they charging for the 6 lb mushroom?

  3. Darya Pino says:

    mike:I am pretty sure that giant shroom was just for display purposes.

  4. HealthyLiving says:

    Those green tomatoes look kind of gross. I’ve tried to fry green tomatoes before like in the movie, and it wasn’t very good; I may have just done it wrong. What are some popular things to do with late-season green tomatoes?

  5. Nicholas says:

    If I was a mushroom connoisseur, I’d have that thing bronzed and mounted- just imagine, a majestic 6 pound porcini mushroom hanging from the wall in all of its glory….

  6. Anonymous says:

    HealthyLiving- I agree, back when I was a newb I would have thought the same about the green ones, but there are a lot of yummy and healthy things to be done with the green ones. Read closer, Darya actually posted a link to a nytimes recipe that looks really good! I’d bet darya in general would recommend against frying anything, even something as delightful as a fall tomato!

  7. Mike says:

    I noted the picture of the walnuts, and wondered if there is any nutritional difference in the nut comparing a nut that is bought shelled, like in the TJs bags, or nuts that come with the shell on. Is there any advantage to shell on nuts?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’ve known about kaffir lime leaves, but never considered that their are probably limes that go along with the leaves; anyone know what they are like, and why we don’t hear more about ’em?

  9. Anonymous says:

    What an awesome pic of that porcini….

  10. Darya Pino says:

    Mike:My guess is that the shelled walnuts are fresher and less stale. Nutritionally there may be subtle differences, with fresher being better, but nothing to really worry about.Walnuts are very high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are rather unstable at room temperature. If your walnuts are shelled and more than a week or 2 old, I recommend storing them in an air tight container in the freezer. The same is true for flax seeds.

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