Get ready! The next few weeks are when we’re going to see the biggest bounty of fresh strawberries at farmers markets. So far we’ve spotted them from Headwaters Market Garden (Asheville City Market), Full Sun Farm and Flying Could Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market and, starting May 4, River Arts District Farmers Market), and McConnell Farms (North and West Asheville markets). But even more farms will have them in the next couple of weeks.
You probably don’t need many suggestions on how to enjoy fresh strawberries. Even if you’re not eating them all straight out of the container, it’s easy to toss them over yogurt with a touch of honey for breakfast, add them to arugula and goat cheese for a lunchtime salad, or layer them with whipped cream and shortcake for dessert. But what you might not be doing is making the most of your strawberry tops. Yes, you can eat those too! In honor of April as Food Waste Reduction Month, here are a few tips for using every last bit of this precious spring treat.
Extend your strawberry season with infused vinegar! Use it for salad dressing or in shrub cocktails. You can make this with any clear or light-colored vinegar, such as white wine, apple cider, or rice vinegar. In a clean jar, cover strawberry tops (green leaves with some red flesh still attached) with vinegar. Let it sit at room temperature for at least two days or up to a week. Strain out the strawberry tops and store the vinegar in a sealed bottle or jar in the refrigerator.
Strawberry leaves can be used as an herbal remedy or tea to help settle an upset stomach. If you want to keep some on hand in the pantry, dry the leaves in the oven or food dehydrator. To make tea, add five or so strawberry tops, fresh or dried, to your teacup and pour boiling water over. Let it steep for about 10 minutes. Sweeten as you prefer and add a squeeze of lemon. You can enjoy hot or iced!
Or use the entire fruit to begin with. Just like kale or spinach, strawberry leaves can add a nutritional boost to smoothies. Toss whole strawberries, leaves and all, into the blender. You can also freeze strawberry tops to save them for future smoothies. (Need new smoothie inspiration? Try blending strawberries with tahini and yogurt with a touch of honey or maple syrup.)
In other market news, Southside Community Farmers Market opens for the season on Sunday, May 1, from 12 to 3 p.m. in the Edington Center parking lot. This market, featuring all BIPOC farmers and vendors, will continue on the first Sunday of the month through October (with the exception of July, when the market will be on the 17th instead of the 3rd).
Enka-Candler Tailgate Market reopens this week as well, on Thursday, May 5. The market will be back at the A-B Tech Small Business Center from 3 to 6 p.m. through October.
River Arts District Farmers Market is shifting from its winter to spring/summer market season Wednesday, May 4, with many produce vendors returning, including Full Sun Farm, Flying Cloud Farm, and Gaining Ground Farm. Live music is also coming back to the market, which will move to the large gravel lot behind Plēb Urban Winery. Hours will extend from 3 to 6 p.m.
At farmers markets now you’ll also find carrots, turnips, radishes, apples, sweet potatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, and greens like lettuce, kale, spinach, broccoli rabe, and bok choy. Markets are also stocked with a variety of meats, cheese, rice, pasta, bread, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. Find more details about farms and markets throughout the region in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.