Farmers tailgate markets are reaching their summertime heights! You’ll find a panoply of produce, including tomatoes, summer squash, beans, spring onions, cucumbers, new potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, greens of all sorts, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and much, much more.
Peaches are picking up speed, and were available this past week from Creasman Farms (Asheville City Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, Black Mountain Tailgate Market) and Lyda and Sons Family Orchard (Weaverville Tailgate Market, Henderson County Tailgate Market). Creasman had the first few plums of the season as well. Lee’s One Fortune Farm (many markets) expects to have interesting variations on these stone fruits in the coming week with Japanese plums and Korean white peaches.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement over these sweet, sun-ripened fruits, and you may let your eyes get a little bigger than your market bag. If you find you’ve come home with more of than you can eat before they start to get overripe, don’t despair. Peaches, plums, and berries of all sorts are particularly easy to preserve or process into longer-lasting treats.
Thinking about dipping your toes into the water of fermented beverages? Fruit kvass is a simple and delicious way to get started (and doesn’t require a scoby starter like kombucha or jun). You can make kvass in a gallon-sized ceramic crock or smaller glass jar, if that’s what you have. Fill about one-fourth to one-third of your vessel with washed fruit. Berries can be added whole, but larger fruits like peaches or plums should be sliced. Peach skins can be overly tannic in a fermentation process, so you might prefer to peel them. You can stick with a single fruit, or try a combination of flavors or other add-ins, like spices or ginger.
Cover the fruit with one tablespoon of sugar or raw honey per cup of fruit—so if you used a quart of fruit, use a half cup of sweetener. Look for local honey from Bee Tree Farm (East Asheville Tailgate Market), Lick Log Branch Apiaries (West Asheville Tailgate Market), or Osada Bee Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market). Fill your vessel halfway with filtered water, leaving plenty of room to stir, and cover. Your water should be dechlorinated, but we’ve found Asheville City water works fine. Whey or yeast are optional add-ins to speed the fermentation process, but you can make kvass without them.
Stir your kvass vigorously several times a day, and you should notice fermentation bubbles within 48 hours. Let it ferment for another day or two, until the bubbles are vigorous and the color has started to fade from the fruit. Strain your kvass and enjoy! It will keep in the refrigerator for a week. You can make another round with the strained fruit—or eat it!
Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.