Last chance to get your decorative gourds and jack-o-lanterns for Halloween! Farmers tailgate markets have plenty of pumpkin and squash types to choose from, but why stop there? You can collect an assortment of fall veggies for carving up a spooky-but-cute porch display.
Beets and turnips were the original jack-o-lanterns in Irish folklore, but American pumpkins supplanted those vegetables as the Irish immigrated. But you can try carving those and an assortment of other gnarly-looking vegetables, like jicama, kohlrabi, sweet potatoes, or daikon radishes, to add some variety.
Alternatively, butternut squash makes an adorable ghost, and you can still roast the seeds. Other pumpkin or squash types, like green, squat kabocha, or yellow, oval spaghetti, are also great for carving if you can’t find a traditional orange pumpkin.
Fancy a few shrunken heads for your Halloween table? Peeled apples, carved with faces, can be dehydrated in the oven. Once carved, soak apples in a a salt-lemon-water solution (one lemon and two tablespoons of salt per quart of water) for 15 minutes. Set the oven to its lowest temperature (175 to 200 degrees). Place apples on a wire rack lined with parchment paper. Check apples as they shrink; total time can take an hour and a half up to 24. You can use your shrunken apple faces decoratively or float them in a punch bowl of apple cider.
If you prefer to eat the fall harvest instead of carve it, make soup! You can combine turnips, squash, and apples into a delicious creamy soup for a weeknight supper. Peel and chop one butternut squash, three turnips, and three apples. Heat olive oil in a large pot and sauté the veggies over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, then add two cups of water or broth. Simmer until veggies are very soft, then puree in the blender. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh cilantro. Enjoy with some crusty farmers market bread!
At markets now you can also get potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, apples, and hardy greens like kale, collards, arugula, chard, and mustard. Markets are also stocked with farm-fresh eggs, cheese, rice, pasta, bread, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. There are more than 100 farmers tailgate markets throughout the Appalachian Grown region. Find them, as well as farms and other local food businesses, in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.