This week has felt like the apex of summer, though on the farm the season’s harvest is just moving into high gear. After one of the wettest years in recent memory, farmers are compensating for unseasonably warm temperatures and a lack of rain right now. But that hasn’t stopped new produce from making its way to farmers tailgate markets.
Cruciferous vegetables are making a big showing now. This past week saw some of the first broccoli, cabbage, and kohlrabi of the season, as well as an increase in late spring and early summer champions like sugar snap peas, garlic scapes, beets, and summer squash. And there are still gallons of strawberries available to eat your fill.
Kohlrabi has a fun UFO-like appearance and comes in shades of pale green and deep purple. So far, we’ve seen it from Sleight Family Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market, Asheville City Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market) and Olivette Farm (Asheville City Market). The bulbous stem is edible (with a taste similar to broccoli, but sweeter), as are the leaves (which are good stand-ins for collards or other dark greens). This versatile, cool-season vegetable can be eaten in myriad ways. Try the stem raw, sliced into matchsticks, in a slaw (it’s especially good with apples, if you have any in storage still, or with salad turnips). Or quarter and braise kohlrabi stem with a bit of butter, alongside a few radish halves, adding in the blanched greens at the end. You can even make kohlrabi chips with thin slices (use a mandolin), either deep-fried or tossed with olive oil and baked in a single layer on sheet tray lined with a nonstick mat in a 250-degree oven for about 45 minutes.
Broccoli will be here for about a month, but will disappear during the hottest bit of summer, then return in the fall. You can get it now from Olivette Farm, Ten Mile Farm (Asheville City Market, River Arts District Farmers Market), and Fiddler’s Green Farm (Asheville City Market). Cabbage’s season is longer, and you should be able to find it through most of the summer and into fall. Both Olivette and New Roots Market Garden (Asheville City Market) had the Napa variety this past week, great for eating raw (in slaw), cooked (try stuffing it!), or fermented (for kimchi).
Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.