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Farmers Market Update: Early Winter

by | Dec 5, 2010
Watermelon Radish

Watermelon Radish

I’m loving the changing seasons. Winter is moving in fast, but fall produce is just peaking in flavor.

Pomegranates are amazing right now. They are sweet and don’t make you pucker with tartness like they do early in the season. We’ve been stocking up on the juice and freezing it in ice cube trays to add to sparkling water spritzers for the rest of the year.

Big Hachiya Persimmons

Big Hachiya Persimmons

Pomegranate Ice

Now is also the best time to get persimmons, because they lack the chalky astringency they can have before they’re quite ripe. Remember, fuyu persimmons are eaten while firm (find a dark orange color) and hachiyas are ripe and edible when soft. I’ve noticed a lot of restaurants adding fuyus to salads and even savory dishes.

Colorful Carrots

Colorful Carrots

As winter approaches, we’re also seeing the emergence of root vegetables. Members of the radish family are less spicy and more sweet this time of year, making them perfect for winter salads. Today I stocked up on watermelon radish (aka watermelon daikon) and kohlrabi. I like to eat both of these raw.

Green and Purple Kohlrabi

Green and Purple Kohlrabi

Watermelon Daikon

Watermelon Daikon

But radishes aren’t the only root vegetables to experiment with this time of year. Celery root has a subtle taste like celery but a consistency more like a potato. It’s great to puree, roast or add to soups. Sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes) are another of my winter favorites. They’re flavor is remarkable, reminiscent of artichoke but more like a delicate potato in appearance.

Organic Sunchokes

Organic Sunchokes

Celery Root and Carrot

Celery Root and Carrot

Parsnips are another delicious root vegetable great for cooking. They look like white carrots but with a more herbal flavor. They are also great for roasting and purees.

Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells

Large Parsnips

Large Parsnips

Although it is fairly late in the season, there are still some peppers around. Though the selection is limited, you can still get beauties like these Christmas bells.

Winter is also a great time for greens. Chard, collards, kale, cabbages all get sweeter this time of year, and are a great accompaniment to roasted winter squash with beans or meat dishes.

Cabbages

Cabbages

Winter Greens

Winter Greens

Brussels sprouts and broccoli are also sweeter than usual.

Organic Broccoli

Organic Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

I also found a few more exotic ingredients this week, including Indonesian lemon leaves (any relation to kafir lime leaves?) and aloe vera.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

Indonesian Lemon Leaf

Indonesian Lemon Leaf

Oh, and crab season has started!

Dungess Crabs

Dungeness Crabs

Today’s purchases:

If you would like to share your own local farmers market with Summer Tomato readers please click here.

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Farmers Market Update: Halloween

by | Oct 31, 2010
Hanging Pomegranates

Hanging Pomegranates

It’s Halloween weekend, always one of my favorite times to visit the beautiful San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Baby Pumpkins

Baby Pumpkins

Crazy Farmer

Crazy Farmer

I can’t tell you how anxious I was to get to the market this weekend. I’ve been traveling a lot and haven’t been around on a weekend in what feels like forever.

At this point I’ve come to terms with the fact that summer is over and I’m completely ready to embrace autumn. Today I stocked up on some of my favorite autumn veggies like Delicata squash and Brussels sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts Stalk

Brussels Sprouts Stalk

Delicata Squash

Delicata Squash

I was also excited to get my hands on some apples today. The Arkansas black apple I tried may have been the best apple I’ve ever had in my life. It was crisp, slightly sweet and had distinctive notes of cinnamon. Mind blowing. But the star fruits right now are the pomegranates. It’s also a great time for grapes and Fuyu persimmons.

Cut Pomegranate

Cut Pomegranate

This is a particularly interesting time of year for California produce. Some of the unusual items I found today include heirloom tobacco leaves and dried sunflower seeds. The tobacco wasn’t cured, so is not yet smokable.

Dried Sunflower Seeds

Dried Sunflower Seeds

Dried Heirloom Tobacco

Dried Heirloom Tobacco

You can also find an assortment of root vegetables. Carrots and scarlet turnips were particularly beautiful this week. Carrots have been turning up on a lot of menus around the city lately.

Scarlet Turnips

Scarlet Turnips

Carrots

Carrots.

The onions and sunchokes are also remarkable.

Sunchokes

Sunchokes

Spanish Onions

Spanish Onions

But despite the new arrivals, we still have a terrific selection of late summer vegetables like peppers, eggplant and tomatoes.

Assorted Eggplant

Assorted Eggplant

Shishito Peppers

Shishito Peppers

Some final notes: Dates are on their way out (get them while you can) and Meyer lemons are on their way in.

First Meyer Lemons

First Meyer Lemons

Dates

Dates

Today’s purchases:

What did you find at the market this week?

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Farmers Market Update: Fleet Week

by | Oct 10, 2010
Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco is a zoo this weekend, but it’s awesome. It’s Fleet Week, which means we have the Blue Angels buzzing over our heads several times a day. And the weather couldn’t be better to hang out on rooftops and watch the action.

Because we are in the middle of changing seasons, the farmers market is a new adventure every week. As summer produce wanes, autumn produce is ramping up. Some of the new items will last all winter, and others are only around a few weeks during the interim.

Pumpkins and Tomatoes

Pumpkins and Tomatoes

White pomegranates are a special treat only around for a couple weeks this time of year. They are sweeter and their pink, translucent seeds are softer than the more typical red pomegranates. Definitely try one if you get the opportunity.

Shin Li Asian Pears

Shin Li Asian Pears

White Pomegranates

White Pomegranates

Asian pears are another temporary item at the market. They’re delicate, watery flesh and subtle flavor make them easy to over look, but it’s fun to bring a few different varietals home and experiment with their unique flavors while you have the chance.

Organic Quince

Organic Quince

Fresh Chestnuts

Fresh Chestnuts

Chestnuts and quince will also be around for a short time and are fun to experiment with. I also saw persimmons for the first time this week.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

First Persimmons

First Persimmons

At this time of year though, my favorite foods are still the late summer produce. I can’t get enough tomatoes and peppers. I adore them. And they pair so beautifully with fresh herbs and almost anything.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs

Hot Peppers

Hot Peppers

And let’s not forget about vegetables. It’s last call on winter squash and eggplant. But you can also find fall favorites like brussels sprouts and artichokes.

Artichokes

Artichokes

Baby Brussels Sprouts

Baby Brussels Sprouts

Also notable is that Warren pears are now available at Frog Hollow, and you can pick up some fresh whole wheat tortillas at Massa Organics.

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Warren Pears

Warren Pears

I’m leaving for Hawaii early this week so I only picked up some white pomegranates and padron peppers.

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Farmers Market Update: End Of Summer

by | Oct 3, 2010
Bronx Grapes

Bronx Grapes

End of summer is always a confusing time in San Francisco, because it is inevitably the nicest weather we’ve had in the city since early May. For the first time all year we pull out our shorts and sandals, while the rest of the country is whining about humidity and getting their pumpkins ready for halloween. It happens every year.

The local produce plays these tricks on us as well. Right now we’re seeing the best of the summer’s fruits. The peaches are perfect, the melons magnificent, the plums spectacular. And of course we’re now getting perfect summer tomatoes.

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Perfect Summer Tomatoes

Perfect Summer Tomatoes

Summer vegetables are equally as awesome. The eggplants, peppers, corn and squash are impossible to ignore with their bright colors and lovely aromatics.

Peppers

Peppers

Eggplants and Peppers

Eggplants and Peppers

But the signs of fall are no longer subtle here in San Francisco. Not only are grapes and apples some of the best fruits available this month, but pomegranates and pears are here as well.

First Pomegranates

First Pomegranates

Winter Banana Apples

Winter Banana Apples

We’re also seeing brussels sprouts and winter squash.

Cauliflower and Broccoli

Cauliflower and Broccoli

First Brussels Sprouts

First Brussels Sprouts

Without a doubt this is one of the best times to eat in San Francisco, but it won’t last long. Get it while the gettin’s good.

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Changing Seasons

by | Oct 4, 2009
Bosc Pears

Bosc Pears

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help but feel like there wasn’t much of a summer this year. In fact, if it weren’t for the amazing produce at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, I wouldn’t believe it had been summer at all. Shouldn’t I have tan lines by now?

Yet somehow it is October.

And despite the confusing weather, it is clear that the market is moving on to fall. There is still plenty of summer bounty to be found, but make no mistake about it: this is your last chance for stone fruit, tomatoes, summer squash, corn, eggplant and melons.

Zucchini

Zucchini

Sweet Organic Melons

Sweet Organic Melons

The Sungold cherry tomatoes (the little orange ones) are especially awesome. But the most impressive thing I found at the market today was the chili peppers.

I never cared much about peppers before I started shopping at the farmers market, but I can assure you that nothing smells better in my market bag than the peppers. (Maybe the basil. But not really.)

Extra Hot Peppers

Extra Hot Peppers

Chili Pepper

Chili Pepper

A fellow market goer was blown away that Tierra Vegetables had these Scotch Bonnet peppers, which she said are necessary for making Jamaican jerk sauce. I had already spent over $10 on peppers, so I held off buying them until next week. But aren’t the beautiful?

Pepper Chips

Pepper Chips

Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Scotch Bonnet Peppers

I also got to try these funny looking pepper chips from Happy Quail Farms, and they were delicious! Sweet, flavorful and crisp without a drop of oiliness. They had a spicy variety as well, but the woman scared me off from trying them because she said, “I mean really hot.” Again, maybe next week.

Also peaking now are figs, grapes, pears and apples.

Flame Grapes

Flame Grapes

Kadota Figs

Kadota Figs

But how we really know fall is here are the winter fruits and vegetables that are appearing. I saw the first persimmons this week at Twin Girls Farm. I also bought one of these adorable white and green baby pumpkins. I was told they are really sweet and easy to cook.

Pumpkins

Pumpkins

First Persimmons

First Persimmons

Pomegranates are also fantastic right now. I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine (shhh, don’t tell anyone): the white pomegranates at K & J Orchards are worth getting to the farmers market early for–before they sell out. They are sweet and amazingly flavorful, but the seed is much more tender than in a red pomegranate. Plus they are a beautiful pink color, amazing in salads or on cereal. Their season is shorter than the red pomegranates, so get them while you can.

(Read: How To Clean A Pomegranate)

White Pomegranates

White Pomegranates

White Pomegranate Seeds

White Pomegranate Seeds

I have another not so well kept secret for you today as well. The pears at Frog Hollow Farm have, against all odds, reached new heights. I’ve been obsessed with their Warren pears for years, and they are just coming into season. But right now I cannot get enough of their Taylor Gold pears. These things are amazing! What’s a girl to do?

Taylor Gold Pears

Taylor Gold Pears

Warren Pears

Warren Pears

Today’s Purchases:

What are you eating?

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Farmers Market Update: Prepping for Asilomar

by | Sep 20, 2009
Hawaiian Apples

Hawaiian Apples

My goal at the farmers market today was to get everything I need to survive the next few days at the annual neuroscience department retreat at the Asilomar conference grounds in Monterey, CA. Last year they served us some of the most unspeakably disgusting food I’ve ever eaten in my life, and budget cuts forecast this year to be even worse.

Almost certainly I’ll be stuck eating fewer calories than usual, but I like to have a few of my own things to make sure I am at least somewhat nourished. For a complete rundown of what I’m bringing, watch the 3 minute video clip below.

How do you survive conferences and events that serve horrible food?

Since I also won’t be cooking dinners or making salads at work for the next few days, I didn’t buy my usual cornucopia of vegetables this week. But I certainly wanted to!

Peaches and Pomegranates

Peaches and Pomegranates

Pumpkins

Pumpkins

The seasons are changing before my eyes. Autumn fruits like pomegranates, pears, grapes and apples are downright abundant. You can also find pumpkins, carrots and beets, all wonderful for roasting in the fall. (Try this recipe for delicious roasted beets with mint and chevre).

I even found chestnuts at K & J Orchards!

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Chestnuts

Chestnuts

I learned today that Brussels sprout season is early this year (it usually starts in October-November). I decided to buy some since I know they will keep well until I return on Tuesday. They are really small right now, which is how you want them for the best taste. I used to hate Brussels sprouts, but have since learned the error of my ways.

Roasting Pimentos

Roasting Pimentos

Peppers and Eggplants

Peppers and Eggplants

The good news for those of us who adore summer produce is that most of it is still spectacular. Tomatoes, peaches, plums, zucchini, melon, peppers (oh the peppers!), eggplant, figs, okra and green beans are what I’m going to focus on for the next few weeks while they are still around.

Paw Paw Ice Cream

Paw Paw Ice Cream

Oh, and if you’re a fan of paw paws, Langier Ranches made up some paw paw ice cream you can get for only $1!

Today’s purchases:

What did you find at the farmers market this week?

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