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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

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. 

Delicata is probably the most well known of these. As the name suggests, this squash boasts a delicate skin that can be consumed part and parcel with its flesh. Though it can be stored at room temperature like winter squash, delicata is technically Cucurbita pepo, the same species as zucchini, crookneck, and other summer squash. (Winter squash is generally Cucurbita maxima or moschata.) For a particularly pretty presentation, slice delicata into half-inch rings, scraping the seeds out from the center of each, and roast on a sheet tray with olive oil. Many farms have delicata right now, including Flying Cloud Farm (River Arts District Farmers Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market) and Highgate Farm (Black Mountain Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market).

A less-common variety of tender-skinned squash is the honeynut. It looks like a miniature butternut, but is a darker shade of orange, both inside and out. This tiny squash is a powerhouse of flavor and nutrients like beta-carotene and Vitamin A. Roasting will bring out an intense natural sweetness—just slice in half, scoop out the seeds, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Full Sun Farm has honeynut squash at River Arts District Farmers Market and North Asheville Tailgate Market.

Our final no-peel squash option might be more of a matter of taste, but many find the skin of the acorn squash (also a member Cucurbita pepo species) to be fully edible when roasted, particularly early in the season when the squash is at its most tender. It’s widely available at markets, including from Stonecrop Garden (Asheville City Market).

Squash that has to travel to the grocery store is often waxed for preservation, which makes the skin less than ideal for consumption, even if it is tender. So this is yet another opportunity to take advantage of farmers tailgate market shopping and the ability to ask farmers about their produce and growing practices. At markets now you’ll also find tomatoes, peppers, corn, beans, cucumbers, beets, carrots, fennel, onions, potatoes, greens, apples, pears, grapes, mushrooms, eggs, cheese, meat, seafood, bread, and so much more.

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 at appalachiangrown.org.

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