Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

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With the long holiday weekend ended, the first few weeks of school gone by, and the days definitely getting a little shorter, it’s easy to feel especially pressed for time in September.

You might be shopping at farmers tailgate markets with the best intentions, but time to prepare meals is elusive. With fall crops starting to mingle with the best of summer produce still available, though, now is a great time to try some grab-and-go produce, whether for snacking or tucking into school lunches.

Jicama is a great raw vegetable for snacking, available from Lee’s One Fortune Farm (located at many markets). This root vegetable is native to South and Central America, but is often found in Asian markets and used as an alternative to water chestnut. But as far as we’re concerned, the best way to eat it is to simply peel and slice into sticks (the papery skin is easier to remove with a chef’s knife than a vegetable peeler). The satisfying crunch is similar to apple and pear, but its mild taste is more savory. Jicama is great on its own, but would also make a good dipper for hummus or herb-yogurt dip. Lunchbox peppers (the name says it all!) are another great raw veggie option; look for them from Olivette Farm (Asheville City Market).

On the fruit front, Tucker’s Garden (West Asheville Tailgate Market) has kiwi berries, which are about the size of a grape with a smooth skin that can be eaten whole. The sweet-tart flavor is more concentrated than a regular kiwi. Husk cherries (also called ground cherries) from Bear Necessities Farm (Asheville City Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market) are another delightful, easy snack. Remove the papery husk and pop the small yellow-orange fruit in your mouth for a burst of flavor akin to pineapple or tropical tomato. Less exotic, perhaps, but several varieties of grapes are coming into season now and are a perennial favorite for snacking. Look for them at Creasman Farms (Asheville City Market, Black Mountain Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market).

Need an added incentive to get out to markets right now? Make a plan to meet up with a friend to catch up (or share favorite recipes) as you shop. Through the end of September, farmers tailgate markets in Buncombe County are offering a “Meet Me at the Market” promotion. Simply visit the market information booth with a friend and say, “We met at market,” to be entered into a raffle to win $50 in market money. Participating markets are Asheville City Market (downtown and south locations), Black Mountain Tailgate Market, East Asheville Tailgate Market, Enka-Candler Tailgate Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, Riverside Tailgate Market, Weaverville Tailgate Market, and West Asheville Tailgate Market.

Also available at markets right now are tomatoes, peppers, corn, eggplant, winter squash, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, figs, pears, apples, fennel, carrots, beets, garlic, onions, lettuce, salad mix, kale, chard, microgreens, mushrooms, eggs, cheese, meat, seafood, bread, fermented products, baked goods, 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.