What’s fresh and exciting this week at area farmers tailgate markets? Cauliflower! Along with its relative, broccoli, cauliflower has two short seasons — one in the spring, and one in the fall. Cauliflower is unique, delicious, and full of nutrition, making it a very special time when it’s at markets.
Paper Crane Farm (West Asheville Tailgate Market and Asheville City Market) and Aardvark Farm (Yancey County Farmers Market, Asheville City Market, and River Arts District Market) are two of the farms that have cauliflower right now, but it will only be around for few more weeks, so grab it while you can. One thing to note, the price of farmers market cauliflower may surprise some folks, but it’s a cost that reflects the challenges of growing a demanding plant. According to Rett Murphy of Aardvark Farm:
“Cauliflower is usually pretty expensive because it can be kind of persnickety. When it is heading up, too much heat or direct sunlight can make the heads turn an off color, and too much rain sitting on the heads causes them to rot. Some growers tie up each plant individually to protect the heads, making checking progress and harvest much more labor intensive. It also takes up quite a bit of space in order to get nice heads. Most of us in the small (few acre) vegetable world need to maximize the dollars per square foot, so plants that hog bed space need to cost a bit more.”
Cauliflower is worth the price, though — There is truly no other vegetable that has just the same texture, flavor, and versatility!
Are you in the mood for something sweeter than cauliflower? Try honeynut squash from Blue Meadow Farms (Black Mountain Tailgate Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market, and Asheville City Market). This is a new variety of butternut squash that is smaller and sweeter than average butternut squash. You can fit it in the palm of your hand! Honeynut squash are perfect for children, because they’re kid-sized and delicious. Also, they’re great for potlucks. To cook them, all you need to do is cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, add a little butter and salt, and roast — absolutely scrumptious!
Have an even sweeter sweet tooth than honeynut squash can satisfy? Try Asian pears, then. An autumn delight, right beside apples, Asian pears are sweet, tart, and a wonderful snack. They’re great raw, but aren’t as good as apples are for baking and cooking into jams because Asian pears have a high water content. In some places, folks use these pears to make marinades and sauces, by grinding them up and adding them to other ingredients. Find them from McConnell Farms (North Asheville Tailgate Market, Asheville City Market, and West Asheville Tailgate Market) and Long Valley Eco-Biotic Farm (Madison County Farmers Market, Weaverville Tailgate Market, and West Asheville Tailgate Market).
For a complete list of Appalachian Grown™ certified tailgate markets browse ASAP’s online Local Food Guide or the online farmers market calendar.