Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

With the Autumn equinox just a week away, we’ll start to see less of some of our favorite summer produce, and make way for a new fall harvest!

While tomatoes, peppers, okra and melons are on their way out of markets, there’s plenty of delicious recipes to preserve these cherished seasonal fruits and veggies.

Tomatoes are not only a versatile veggie to cook with, but there are endless ways you can preserve them as well! Whether you make them into a sauce, homemade ketchup, salsa, jam, or pickle them, tomatoes are easy to enjoy long after summer’s end. There’s nothing like a warm tomato soup during those colder months, so plan ahead for those winter cravings by using the last of this season’s tomatoes (along with a few other summer veggies) to make a deliciously creamy soup! On a lined baking sheet, add five pounds of chopped tomatoes and eight whole, peeled garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roast at 425 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. While the tomatoes are roasting, in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil and cook one chopped yellow onion, four celery stalks, and four carrots for about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and remove from heat. Once tomatoes are done roasting, transfer the tomato, garlic, and the pan juice into the saucepan. Add four cups of vegetable broth, one can of full-fat coconut milk, one bunch of fresh basil, and a bit of cumin, paprika, coriander, salt and pepper to season. Blend in the pot with an immersion blender (or blend in batches in a standing blender). Enjoy a bowl of your freshly made soup, then ladle the rest into jars or quart plastic containers to freeze for up to a year! You can find tomatoes from Maypop Farm (Asheville City Market), Tiny Bridge Farm (West Asheville Tailgate Market), and many more vendors!

Much like tomatoes, there are so many ways to enjoy peppers long after they leave markets. This simple hot pepper relish is a wonder condiment that can be enjoyed on steaks, chicken, burgers, brats, and more! Start by chopping up three cups of peppers of your choice. For a milder relish, throw in more bell or sweet peppers or, for a little more heat, use varieties like jalapeno, cayenne or serrano. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the chopped peppers, three quarters of a cup of white wine vinegar, half a cup of sugar, two cloves of minced garlic, half of a chopped onion, two teaspoons of yellow mustard seed, and a salt to taste. Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately warm, or seal in a jar to save for later! This recipe will stay good for a few months when properly sealed and stored in the refrigerator, or process your relish to can it and store longer term at room temperature. You can find peppers from Olivette Farm (Asheville City and East Asheville markets), Sleight Family Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market), and many more!

At farmers markets now you’ll also find corn, apples, Asian pears, eggplant, cucumbers, potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beets, radishes, mushrooms, and greens like lettuce, kale, and bok choy. Markets are also stocked with a variety of plants, meats, cheese, rice, pasta, bread, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. Find more details about farms and markets throughout the region in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.

Written by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.