Your favorite peak summer produce—tomatoes, corn, peppers, melons, peaches, blackberries, beans, okra, eggplant—is still filling the tables at farmers tailgate markets. We have a month or two more to enjoy these items. But there are hints of seasonal change in the air.
Figs are a late summer prize available now from Jake’s Farm (Asheville City Market, Enka-Candler Tailgate Market) and Lee’s One Fortune Farm (many markets). If your figs are perfectly ripe, you probably want to just eat them as they are, or maybe alongside some creamy cheese from Spinning Spider Creamery (Asheville City Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market), Three Graces Dairy (Asheville City Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market), or Looking Glass Creamery (River Arts District Farmers Market). If you ended up with a few that aren’t quite as juicy as you’d like, try roasting them with honey and thyme and adding them to a pasta dish or salad. Jake’s Farm expects to harvest figs just for a few more weeks, so get them while you can!
Creasman Farms (Asheville City Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, Black Mountain Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market) started picking early apples in bulk at the tail end of July. Varieties so far include Sansa, Dayton, Ginger Gold, Swiss Gourmet, Gravenstein, Wolf River, Summer Rambo, and Zestar. Creasman brought grapes to markets as well this past week. We’ll see new grape and apple varieties from more farms in upcoming weeks.
Winter squash has come on the scene from a few vendors, including spaghetti squash from Ten Mile Farm (Asheville City Market, River Arts District Farmers Market). Roasting this versatile vegetable in the oven for 45-50 minutes (sliced in half with seeds scooped out, drizzled with olive oil) brings out the best of its flavor, but if you’re looking for a very quick and healthy meal, you can also microwave halves in a baking dish with a cup of water for 15 minutes. Either way, spaghetti squash is great with fall-ish seasoning, like cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup, or transformed into a healthy pasta alternative with marinara or bolognese sauce and a cheesy topping.
Lee’s One Fortune has Japanese sweet potatoes now as well. These purple-fleshed tubers are delicious roasted or grilled whole, topped with a bit of butte and salt. Also look for sweet potato greens, which can be used similarly to spinach, but are less bitter, and shine in both quick-cooking methods, like stir-fry or sauté, or in braises.
Markets are packed with even more produce, such as Asian pears, blueberries, summer squash, potatoes, fennel, carrots, beets, garlic, onions, leeks, lettuce, salad mix, chard, bok choy, cabbage, sprouts, microgreens, and mushrooms, as well as eggs, cheese, meat, seafood, bread, fermented products, baked goods, and more.
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.