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apple taste test

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the multitude of apple varieties on offer at farmers tailgate markets each autumn. Some are better for baking, some for snacking. Maybe you prefer a sweeter apple or something more tart. Maybe you know you’ve tasted the perfect apple before, but you can’t remember what it was called. How do you choose? Well, apart from asking the farmer’s advice (which is always a good first step), you might consider throwing together an apple taste test.  Read the rest of this entry »

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watermelon radishes from Ten Mile Farm

The weather continues to defy autumn’s arrival, but cooler-weather crops are arriving at farmers tailgate markets, including fresh root vegetables like radishes, beets, carrots, and turnips.

Watermelon radishes are a particularly fun find right now, spotted at both Ten Mile Farm (Asheville City Market, River Arts District Farmers Market) and Headwaters Market Garden (Asheville City Market). These heirloom varieties of the daikon are all business on the outside and party on the inside, with fuschia cores rimmed in white and lime green, reminiscent of their namesake. You can snack on them or use them as a dipper as you would other varieties of radish, but their bright centers beg for a pretty presentation. Here are a few suggestions.

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honeynut and acorn squash

With the autumnal equinox behind us, it’s time to get serious about squash. Winter squash varieties have been coming in at farmers tailgate markets for about a month, including butternut, spaghetti, red kuri, jester, and kabocha. But while we adore squash in everything from soups to gratins to salads to desserts, we have to admit that removing the hard outer skin can be a bit tedious. Luckily, there are few options that allow you to leave your vegetable peeler in the drawer and simply eat the skin along with the rest of the fruit. 
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We never fail to get excited about the fact that we can get locally grown rice in the Western North Carolina mountains. Lee’s One Fortune Farm has had its fall harvest available in limited quantities for the past couple of weeks at many farmers tailgate markets, including purple and brown rice varieties. The flavor of rice this fresh elevates even the simplest preparations, but Korean bibimbap is a dish that can really highlight all the best of your market haul.

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tomatoes

It’s that time of year again—break out your canning jars and start preserving the end of the summer season! Mid-September is an ideal time to put  up tomatoes, which are still abundant at markets now, but will start fading out over the next month. Remember, you can ask farmers if they have large volumes of tomatoes (or other produce) that you can purchase in bulk.

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jicama from Lee's One Fortune Farm at East Asheville Tailgate Market

With the long holiday weekend ended, the first few weeks of school gone by, and the days definitely getting a little shorter, it’s easy to feel especially pressed for time in September. You might be shopping at farmers tailgate markets with the best intentions, but time to prepare meals is elusive. With fall crops starting to mingle with the best of summer produce still available, though, now is a great time to try some grab-and-go produce, whether for snacking or tucking into school lunches. 

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Labor Day bookends the summer season (though technically we have three more weeks), and is often a last hurrah for a weekend of outdoor food and fun. If you’re firing up your grill, the farmers tailgate markets are packed with great options, including ground beef for burgers, steaks, pork chops, whole chickens, summer squash, eggplant, corn on the cob, and much more. But don’t stop there! Here are a few less-traditional items you might want to throw on the grill this season. Read the rest of this entry »

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Peppers are really coming into their own at farmers tailgate markets right now. These bright nightshades can vary so much in flavor, heat, color, size, and texture. Asking the farmer about the varieties they’re growing is a great way to learn about new types and get tips on how you might prepare them. 

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figs

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.

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popsicles

Is there a more quintessential summer experience than eating a popsicle in the sun, with sweet fruit juices dribbling down your chin? Farmers tailgate markets offer a wealth of popsicle ingredients, including some options for thinking outside the tried and true mold. 

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