Tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, summer squash, peaches, plums, nectarines, blueberries, broccoli, and cabbage — farmers market tables are overflowing with summer superstars.
You’re likely to walk away with a full market bag no matter what you’re looking for, but there a few delicacies to seek out right now.
Highgate Farm (West Asheville Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, Black Mountain Tailgate Market) had wineberries this past week, a delicious brambleberry similar to a raspberry, but stickier, with less seeds, and a bit sweeter. Technically an invasive species, wineberries are more often foraged than sold at market, so it’s a treat to find them. You may well devour a full carton on the way home from market, but you can also make wineberry jam or freeze the berries whole.
Squash blossoms are another fun item available for a short time at markets right now. They’ve been seen from Lee’s One Fortune Farm at many markets. These dainty yellow-orange flowers are fantastic stuffed with an herbed cheese mixture (try it with local goat cheese or make your own ricotta), battered, and fried, but you can also go a simpler route. Thinly sliced blossoms can be added to salad, pasta, or quiche. You can also use squash blossoms to top a pizza or inside a quesadilla.
If you happen to have leftover goat cheese or ricotta filling after stuffing your squash blossoms, you can make good use of it for a peachy dessert. Whip the cheese with a bit of local honey and dollop onto peach slices. Top with walnuts or pistachios if you want. White peaches are more delicate and slightly less acidic than yellow peaches, so they’re a good choice for simple and sweet preparations like this. Creasman Farms (River Arts District Farmers Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, Asheville City Market, Black Mountain Tailgate Market) and McConnell Farms (West Asheville Tailgate Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, Asheville City Market) have both white and yellow varieties. Lee’s One Fortune Farm has Korean white peaches, which are among the sweetest we’ve ever tasted.
In addition to produce, local cheese, and honey, you’ll also find farm-fresh eggs, meat, fish, bread, baked goods, fermented products, beverages, and much more.
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.