Farmers Market Fall Splendor

Farmers Market Fall Splendor

Pumpkins, apples, parsnips, oh my! Chilly autumn weather brings a whole new crop of produce to celebrate.

Santa Monica farmers market pumpkin

Pumpkins at the Santa Monica Farmers Market

With the last of the hot, dry days of summer, juicy peaches and floral strawberries came to an end. Fall brings around a whole new group of fruits and vegetables to the farmers markets. Old favorites preserve through the winter months, sharing tables with short-seasoned, lesser known varieties. From apples to persimmons to litchi-like longans, fall’s produce splendor is worth celebrating about and certainly cooking with.

winter squash

Winter Squash at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market

Chilly days mean root vegetables are coming into full flavor. “The freezing, frost gives a floral sweetness to root vegetables,” says farmer Alex Weiser, who sells beautiful parsnips, multicolored carrots, and fingerling potatoes. “It’s the terrior,” he says, meaning the vegetables gain their flavor specifically from their environment.

Weiser Family Farms parsnip

Parsnips from Weiser Family Farms

When it comes to persimmons, it’s just that frost that farmer Jeff Rieger worries about. This bright, orange fruit is available from mid October until the first freeze, when the fruit becomes soft and mushy. You can find several varieties at his Penryn Orchard stand, including fuyu, chocolate, maru, hachiya and the tanmopan, which have a strange acorn shape and are eaten when very soft. Penryn also has wonderfully tart and sweet pomegranates this time of year, available from September through November, although “they must be picked before the first rain or they will split and burst from juiciness,” says Rieger.

pomegranetes

Penryn Orchard Pomegranates

Not so commonly thought of as a fall fruit, this time of year look for Walter Hole variety of avocado, a Mexicola type. This very dark skinned avocado has the highest oil content of all avocados and you can eat the dark black skin, which has a fennel like flavor. They are available into December.

Another lesser known fall fruit is the longan. This small, round, brown shelled fruit is similar to a litchi in flavor and texture. Peel back the shell and eat the jelly like, clear fruit inside(be careful of the seeds). Available from the end of October through November, they are grown in tropical areas. Californians can find them from Ventura County’s Mud Creek Ranch.

Longan fruit from Mud Creek Ranch

Longan fruit from Mud Creek Ranch

Of course the iconoclast fall fruit are apples. See Canyon produces some of the best in the Los Angeles area, using dry farming methods so that the fruit only receives ocean air and rain water. This produces a high sugar content apple with a richer flavor profile. Each week, Sea Canyons choices are different, but favorites include the ginger gold, braeburn, and splendor varieties. The season usually runs from late August, sometimes into late February.

Sea Canyon apples

Fujui apples from Sea Canyon

Even with old fall favorites like apples and squash, a trip to the farmers market during the autumn months is sure to reveal a new variety, or better yet a new product. Head to your local market and ask farmers about a product you’ve never tried. In the colder months there is so much more to cook then plain old carrots and potatoes, just go see for yourself. And bring home some of that fall splendor to make dinner tonight!

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Lydia Sullivan said,

    Enjoyed reading this as we miss some of the
    Autumn feel down here in FLA.
    Learned about some fruit I’ve never heard of, longan.


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