Fall is my favourite season and one of the best at the farmers market. Maybe there is less time to laze about and enjoy the market vibe - but a quick shop with our local producers can prove to be a very lucrative and delicious adventure. Some of this seasons highlights are:
Tomatoes - In so many varieties ... beefsteak, heirloom, green zebra, and even new cherry tomatoes. These precious jewels have a limited life in the field so it is well worth stocking up! If you are intimidated by making sauce, freezing is the easiest solution. Simply wash, dry, place in a freezer bag, remove the air and viola! Approximately 13 plum tomatoes is enough for a sauce. To use the frozen tomatoes, just run them under warm water. The skins will slide off and can go directly in the pot for a lovely local tomato sauce in the winter.
Squash - The squash and pumpkins are out in all their fall glory. I need to check again, but I am pretty sure I saw a green and orange squash last week at Wheelbarrow Farm. Really, the most easy way to make a healthy meal is to roast up some squash and add it to –– well, almost anything. We have put roasted squash in pasta, risotto, on pizza, in tarts, soups and even in baking. Freezing squash cubes is a breeze or make a puree and freeze it in ice-cube trays. Eating your local finds in January will be a true treat.
Concord Grapes - These blue beacons of fall are devoured in our household before there is time to do anything else with them. This year we are determined to extend our time with these by making some easy Concord Grape Jam and even freezing few to add a grape 'punch' to winter smoothies and juices.
Potatoes - The perfect side to some grass-fed beef or for fish and chips! Buying potatoes this fresh means they will keep that much longer in storage. If you have the space be sure to chat with one of the farms about buying potatoes in bulk to store for the season.
Peppers - They are later than usual (as are the tomatoes) but stunning and so flavourful! Many people roast tomatoes in large batches on the BBQ and freeze for the winter. It really is great to pull these out for a pizza in the middle of winter. If this is too much of an endeavour you can simply roast the peppers in your oven! Broil them until they are blackened and pop them in a paper bag to steam. Slip off the peels (have some water handy to clean your fingers), tear them into strips, add garlic and olive oil if you like and into the freezer bags they go. The kids can really get into this!
Our access to local food at farmers' markets can't be taken for granted. Now that fall has arrived and we begin the countdown to the last market, let's be sure to show our farmers' support, celebrate their hard work and be sure to savour every last market day possible!