Wednesday, August 31st: Shelling Beans, Thai Basil, Magnificent Maters & More!

Cranberry shelling beans from Stoney Plains. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wow! September starts tomorrow! It feels like summer just began. (Hmm, actually, it kinda did .) Well, the kiddies are heading back to school, and the late season crops are starting to arrive. Like these cranberry shelling beans from Stoney Plains. You probably are used to shelling beans dried, but when they are fresh, they are amazing! Just cook in well-salted rolling water until they’re tender and add them to whatever you desire. So enjoy them while you can, and better yet, buy extra and freeze them. It is as simple as shucking them and putting them in pint freezer bags, and then putting the pints in a gallon freezer bag. No blanching required, I don’t care what the “experts” say. I’ve been doing it this way for years, and they will keep for at least a year in your freezer. Mmm. Succotash in January!

Radishes from Lee's Fresh Produce. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

We often don’t have radishes this time of year, as the hot days of July and August make them woody. But we didn’t have hot days this July and August, and farmers took advantage by growing more radishes, like these from Lee’s Fresh Produce. And there is a lesson here, beyond merely that we love radishes and that farmers are smart and adaptable. If “Support Local Farmers” is not just a bumper sticker slogan, but is something you truly believe in, then local farmers need you to buy what they can grow this year, not what you wish they were growing. That means building your menu around what is on farm tables today. A little creativity on your part will help local farmers a lot!

Thai basil from Billy's Gardens. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Thai basil is some of the most fragrant basil around. It is an absolute requirement for a proper bowl of pho, and many a fresh roll or stir fry would be incomplete without it. And Billy’s Gardens has it right now in a couple of varieties. Can’t you just smell it right now? That’s what I’m talking about!

Beefsteak tomatoes from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These beefsteak tomatoes from Alm Hill Gardens are awesome right now. They are truly vine-ripened, picked at the peak of juicy flavor within the last 24 hours, and ready for you to make the best salads, BLTs, soups, and more! Remember, tomato season will not last forever. Enjoy them now!

Winter banana apples from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

There are literally hundreds of varieties of apples, and during the early apple season in August and September, the early varieties come and go on literally a weekly basis. Like these winter banana apples from ACMA Mission Orchards. They are such a lovely apple. And yet, in the blink of an eye, they’ll be gone, and the next variety will come in. Have fun with it! Try a couple of each new variety every week, and celebrate the genetic diversity to be found at farmers markets. After all, without farmers markets, we’d likely all be stuck with just red and golden delicious. Blech!

Of course, this is just a highlighting of what you will find today. There is still plenty of other stuff just waiting for you at your Wallingford Farmers Market this week. For a full accounting of what you will find, check out What’s Fresh Now!

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