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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

Fermented foods from Sweet Brine'd

As winter sets in and people around you fall prey to colds, flu, and other ailments, you might be thinking about ways to shore up your immune system. Besides giving you a chance to stock up on fresh, local fruits and vegetables—always a health booster—winter farmers markets are an opportunity to explore a variety of fermented foods.

Between 70 and 80 percent of immune system tissue is located along the digestive tract, so the probiotics found in fermented foods and beverages not only improve gut health, but strengthen your body’s ability to fight off disease as well. The more types you eat, the better, as a diverse mix of microorganisms leads to even stronger resilience.

Jun, a cousin of kombucha, is an effervescent drink made from fermented green tea, raw honey, and a culture called a SCOBY. Like kombucha, jun is rich in probiotics, but its flavor is mellower and smoother (“the champagne of fermented beverages” is a common designation). Shanti Elixirs at Asheville City Market-Winter sources from local farms to create its many flavors, including ginger, blueberry-basil, pineapple-turmeric, lemon-lavender, grape, and elderberry.

You’ll also find an array of fermented vegetables in the form of krauts, kimchi, pickles, and hot sauces from market vendors. These are great ways to amp up your winter dishes: Stir them into soups, spread them on bread, or top your main course. Sample the goods from Serotonin Ferments at Asheville City Market-Winter and purchase your favorite by the jar to take home. Or, if you’re heading outside the city limits, look for Sweet Brine’d at Black Mountain Winter Market inside Roots and Fruits Market or Fermenti at Transylvania Farmers Market in Brevard.

And if you’re inspired to start a fermentation journey of your own, much of the produce available at markets right now lends itself to the process, including daikon or other radishes, cabbage, Japanese turnips, carrots, beets, garlic, or turmeric.

Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region, even through the winter. 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 at appalachiangrown.org.

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