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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

The first sweet potatoes always arrive later than the first winter squash. Once that initial squash makes an appearance, it’s only a matter of weeks before the sweet potato does, and for fans of these tubers, those weeks are a countdown.

Flying Cloud Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market and River Arts District Farmers Market) brought their first sweet potatoes to market this past week. The variety they have now is called Covington, a hybrid developed by North Carolina State University. Over the last decade Covingtons have become widely popular to grow among farmers throughout the state.

Over the next couple of months, more and more varieties of sweet potatoes will arrive at area farmers markets. The reason for the longer wait? Sweet potatoes need to cure after they’re harvested. Curing builds up their skin to make them keep in storage longer, and it allows for the starch to convert to sugars making them sweeter. Curing involves keeping the sweet potatoes in a warm and humid environment for multiple weeks. Farmers do this before bringing their sweet potatoes to market so that shoppers don’t have to worry about it.

The tuber isn’t the only part of the sweet potato you can eat. The greens above the ground are also edible and flavorful! They’re comparable to spinach with less bite at the back end of the flavor. Mild and delicious, they’re a great addition to soups, pasta and rice dishes, or lightly sauteed on their own. Find them from Blue Meadow Farms (West Asheville Tailgate Market, Black Mountain Tailgate Market, and Asheville City Market), as well as other farms throughout the region.

Ginger also made it’s debut this past week! The ginger available at market this time of year is considered baby ginger — it’s young, fresh, and unlike the ginger you find at the grocery store, it hasn’t been cured yet. This means it isn’t dried, its skin isn’t tough or thick, and isn’t stringy. Find fresh ginger roots from Aardvark Farm (Asheville City Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, and Yancey County Farmers Market) and McConnell Farms (Asheville City Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market, and North Asheville Tailgate Market).

It’s not too early to reserve your Thanksgiving turkey! Birds get reserved quickly, so now is a great time to begin looking for the right one for your friends and family. Ask your farmer at the market if they have holiday turkeys, or search our online Local Food Guide to find farmers raising turkeys.

Each week farmers have a wide array of fruits and vegetables. In addition to produce, you can always find a range of meats, cheeses, eggs, breads, baked goods, value added items, fresh flowers, and other treats!

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.