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Tastes of the Season: Fall Farmers' Markets

 
Shopping at your local farmers' market

 

Fall is here! The bridge between summer and fall is full of delicious possibilities: the last heirloom tomatoes and sweet corn linger, pears and sweet potatoes start to arrive, and more apples than you can name can all be found at your local farmers’ market.

Autumn is the peak of apple season, especially in northwest North Carolina, and the farmers' market is a great place to find unusual varieties. Many vendors offer samples for tasting, which is a great way to discover new flavors. Ask the farmer whether the apples you’re buying are best for eating raw, making fresh applesauce, or baking into pies. There are even some varieties you can purchase to enjoy over the winter - just keep them in your garage or other cool space. 

At this point in the season, you've made zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, and added chunks of it to pasta sauce and soups. Zucchini haunts your dreams; you’ve been caught sneaking bags of these late-summer squashes into your friends’ cars on the sly. Here's a new idea for using up zucchini; slice them thin and use them in place of regular noodles in lasagna…voila, it’s both gluten-free and delicious. You can use a "spiralizer" to cut them into spaghetti-like noodles, too. 

Tomatoes at the marketOrganic foods are often more affordable straight from the farmer, and we don’t need to tell you how much fresher and better-tasting they can be. There’s nothing like the taste of a veggie that slept in the garden last night and is on your plate today!

Wait, did someone say pumpkin? Don't confuse those mega pumpkins meant for jack-o-lanterns with pie pumpkins, though. These smaller delights pumpkins make terrific pies, are good for soup, and are packed with beta-carotene and immune system–boosting vitamins A and C.

As cooler weather brings a bounty of fresh greens back to the market, you've got no excuse for not making salad. These yummy greens are a great foundation for a salad topped with heirloom tomatoes and your other farmers' market goodies.

Herb plantsThis time of year, look for decorative gourds and miniature pumpkins at the market; they’ll look terrific on your dining room table or fireplace mantel. They keep for months, so you can decorate now and keep them out through Thanksgiving. You can even hollow out mini pumpkins and gourds to make fun seasonal candle holders. When you’re done with using them for décor, add them to your compost bin or put them outside for the wild critters to enjoy the seeds and pulp.

Many farmers' markets have special programs with local chefs, where you can learn new ideas for food prep and meal plans for making the most of your trip to the market. 

Ready to go shopping? Here are a few useful things to take to the market:

A reusable bag (Mother Earth will thank you, and so will your vendors).

Small bills – some vendors don’t take credit or debit cards.

Comfortable shoes and a rain poncho, if it’s cloudy.

Here are a few markets for you to check out in Mast Store communities:

Watauga County Farmers’ Market at Horn in the West in Boone is open Saturdays, May through November. Quality produce from local growers, seasonal fruits and berries, jams and jellies, local honey, baked goods, eggs and cheeses are just part of the selection. 

WNC Farmers Market in Asheville is open seven days a week, all year round. It’s where you can purchase high quality, local fruits and vegetables, mountain crafts, jams, jellies, sourwood honey, fresh baked goods, cheeses and other items. Buy items by the piece or by the peck or bushel.  

Henderson County Tailgate Market – Saturdays, April through October, 8:00 a.m. to noon. Fresh from the Hendersonville area’s farmers and growers, incredibly delicious fruits and vegetables offer peak goodness to your family table. Farm-fresh eggs, nuts, honey and more will make your mouth water. 

Haywood Historic Farmers Market – April through November, Saturdays 8:00 a.m. – noon; Wednesdays 3:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Meet the folks who grow your food! All produce comes from the Waynesville area. Shop for goodies such as produce, meats, fish, dairy, eggs and more. 

Cobblestone Farmers Market – April through November, 9:00 a.m. – noon, West & Salt Streets, Winston-Salem. This independent farmers’ market program is one of our state’s very few completely vetted, sustainable, producer-only markets. All beef, lamb, and pork products are certified Animal Welfare Approved, which has the most rigorous standards for animal welfare in the U.S. 

TD Saturday Market – Saturdays through October, 8:00 a.m. – noon, Main Street at McBee, Greenville. The season's freshest produce, all grown or produced within 100 miles of Greenville. Come for the fresh produce or the handcrafted pastas and cheeses, meet friends, listen to local musicians, watch a cooking demonstration, and more. Grab a recycled shopping bag and come on over! 

Soda City Market –Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Main Street in Downtown Columbia. The season’s best local produce, meats, dairy, baked items, and more! There’s always something happening at Columbia’s Soda City Market. Plenty of parking is available in nearby parking decks. 

Market Square Farmers Market – May through November, Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.; Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Market Square in Downtown Knoxville. The Wednesday market also offers special discounts from numerous downtown merchants. A producer-only market! 

If you don’t live near one of these locations, take a look around your community – chances are good that there’s a Farmers' Market somewhere nearby. One more thing, many of the markets are expanding to have limited selections available year round. The winter markets may have selected greens, winter squash, etc. Just ask when you visit or check out their websites. 

Bon Appetit!