Happy Autumnal Equinox! The few weeks where summer and fall meet is arguably the best time of year for produce. Ginger represents this transition well. It can lend its zing to a summer stir fry just as well as it can add a comforting flavor to a warm dessert.
Late summer is upon us, and there are eggplants of every shape, size, and color at market: long and skinny Japanese and Chinese eggplants, pale lavender Bianca Rosa, strikingly striped Listada, and teeny Thai eggplants that you’ll want to string like lights. Find these beauties and more at all three of our markets.
You can’t stroll through a Berkeley Farmers’ Market this time of year without gawking at the buckets and buckets of fresh-cut flowers. Giant sunflowers, elegant dahlias, bright zinnias – the abundance of varieties and colors fills us with gratitude for the diversity and beauty California summers bring.
Snake or Armenian cucumber? Twisty and serpent-like, Armenian cucumbers are one of the most fun items you’ll find at the market. If you have never had the chance to try an Armenian cucumber, now’s the time! Fun fact: these “cukes” are technically melons. They have that crunchy, cool, and refreshing cucumber taste we crave in the August heat, without the potential of any bitterness. Their skin is also thin and delicate. No need to peel, just rinse and snack. Unfortunately, as you may have already noticed, many of our farmers have chosen to plant fewer cucumbers and melons this year due to water restrictions. All the more reason to savor them this year.
In need of a quick break from strawberries and stone fruit? Pick up a basket of organic blackberries! Right now, you’ll find some of the sweetest blackberries around at the one and only Kaki Farm. There, you’ll also have the chance to chat with the equally sweet farm owner Nicasio Soria, who mans the stand each summer. Originally from Zacatecas, Mexico, Nicasio worked as a farmhand at Kaki in 1979 before purchasing the property himself in 1990. He has a berry interesting story to share.
Have you ever tried, or heard of, purslane? If not, add this green to your shopping list. Its tiny oval leaves and waxy pink stem are succulent, tangy, and crunchy, adding a fun texture to summer salads or stir-fries. It also happens to be one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, with some of the highest levels of calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.
We’re excited to have seen the first harvests of corn at the Berkeley Farmers’ Markets this past week. Before you know it, we’ll be up to our ears in it! Before firing up the grill for this iconic Fourth of July side dish, let’s take a moment to acknowledge corn’s rich Indigenous American history, and learn how its seed came to be abused for mass consumption. Luckily, you’ll find an a-maize-ing, non-industrial selection of sweet corn at all three Berkeley Farmers’ Markets.
It’s that glorious time of year – stone fruit season! With hybrids in the mix, it can be tough choosing which type to take home, let alone which variety. One fun choice to look out for are apriums. Apriums are around 70 percent apricot and 30 percent plum. They have the golden fuzz and overall taste of an apricot, but with the sweetness and texture of a plum.
It’s hard to ignore the tall stacks of fresh herbs all over the market right now. Among them, cilantro. Bright and refreshing, this herb is sure to add depth to your summer meals. Cilantro is the ultimate zero-waste herb. It’s best known for its delicate leaves, but the long, tender stems are actually where a lot of the flavor is concentrated. Even the seeds, which we know as coriander seeds, are edible and offer a milder, curry-like flavor. You can find fresh bunches at nearly any farm stand right now.
Blueberries are here! Today we have two updates to share regarding our blueberry vendors. One sweet and one tart, kind of like the fruit itself.
Sweet: Triple Delight Blueberries is back at all three of our markets! This fifth generation family farm plants 8 different varieties of blueberries on San Joaquin County farmland each year. Their season is very short but very sweet. Nab them while you can.
The Spring Fruit Season is off to an a-May-zing start. Cherries and blueberries abound this week but we’ve had a keen eye on Frog Hollow Farm’s mulberries. Mulberries are hard to find anywhere but the farmer’s market, and Frog Hollow is one of the few growers in the state. So we’re happy when they are here!
Even though it’s almost always citrus season in the Bay, nothing screams spring like a bright, lemony dish. Lemons are a powerful ingredient. A few squeezes can tenderize your meat and seafood, retain your chopped fruits and veggies’ vibrant colors, and remedy an over-salted meal – all while subtly enhancing and balancing the flavors of your dish. Their natural disinfecting properties also make lemons a natural alternative to the harsh products in your cupboard, just in time for spring cleaning.
Ever tried green garlic? This early spring crop is garlic’s younger sibling; it’s simply garlic that’s been harvested early. They are easy to confuse with green onions, so be sure to look for thicker stems and purple hues along the bulbs to distinguish them. They are milder and nuttier than mature, cured garlic and much easier to work with. Use it from end to stem, just as you would a scallion. Just be sure to trim the roots!
Springtime is our favorite time of year at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market—or should we say fava-rite? Of all of the spring veggies that we’ve been patiently waiting for all winter, fava beans are what have caught our attention this week. If you’re not familiar with them, they are a large, flat bean with a super creamy texture when cooked. They are a tad nutty and slightly sweet in flavor, but overall quite mild and easy to incorporate into dishes.
The days are getting longer, and so are the spears of asparagus popping up on local farms! We spotted the very first harvests at Full Belly and Kaki Farms just last week, just in time to put a spring into our step for the equinox on March 20. These sweet, crisp stalks should very well be considered royalty in the veggie kingdom.
A lot of people think that broccolini is just a younger broccoli crop, but in fact, it is a hybrid of broccoli and gai lan (Chinese Broccoli). With smaller florets and a thinner, more delicate stem than broccoli, it takes a bit less time to cook. It’s also sweeter in taste, but just as versatile. Perfect for your frittata in the morning or in your stir fry at night. Know that you are getting four times more Vitamin A, as well as substantially more magnesium and calcium, than you would eating broccoli.