The weather has been more in line with April the last couple of weeks, but the markets are still looking like May and early June. Many markets are opening early to keep pace with this year’s early crops. So if you are driving around the state and see a gathering a trucks or tents, get off the beaten path and see what kinds of locally-grown goodness are offered. For a preview of what you might find, check out his week’s farmers’ market report:
Fresh strawberries are making their way across the state. The cooler weather of the last couple weeks should keep them coming for a while, even if it warms up again. Early varieties of blueberries are ripening in Mid-Missouri, and should start coming in across the south. We are also seeing some apples that have been in cold storage over winter as several growers have installed coolers or formed packing cooperatives to make them available all year.
Greens off all sorts are coming into peak season. Chards, mustards, kale, spinach, micro greens, bib lettuce, leaf lettuce and arugula are as sweet (and bug free) as they will be all year. Napa cabbage, tomatsu, bak choy and pak choy are abundant if you are looking for more exotic fare. Traditional cabbages are still available in spring’s loosely formed heads.
Beets, carrots and turnips from fall plantings are available. They are also coming in from high tunnels now. These go fast and supplies will run low before the summer crops arrive. So get to the market early if you are planning a dish around them. It should be June before the summer crops grown outdoors come in.
Radishes of all types are out there right now and the earlier in the year you buy them the better. French Breakfast is the earliest and mildest variety of traditional slicers. White Icicle and Purple Top are on the hotter side. Of course, Daikon is as mild as you will find. Regardless of your tastes, if you like radishes this is a great time of year.
Garlic scapes (flowers) are starting to form. If you have never tried them, they are worth the adventure. The stem below the flower bud is great for stir frying. Scallions (green onions), ramps (wild leeks) and asparagus are all in season. It has also been a great spring from mushrooms
Sweet corn availability is determined as much by the hours of light as temperature so it still shouldn’t be in until July no matter when it was planted. The same is true for peppers. Squash and beans will probably show up early though. Look for them around mid May.
High tunnel tomatoes are available at a few locations. Temperatures below 60 degrees can compromise the texture of a tomato so don’t be surprised if they are a little mushy and watery inside. The good news is that they won’t be hard and white inside like ones that ripen too fast in early summer.
Chocolate may not be a local crop, but there are lots of local chocolatiers that sell at local farmers’ markets. Best of all, most of them buy lots of the ingredients they use in their handmade chocolates and candies at the farmers’ market. Whether it is the bacon and pecans in their brittle, the fresh strawberries they are dipping in chocolate, or the butter of their caramels, lots of the homegrown goodness you buy at the market can also be found in the hand crafted confections.
If your farmers’ market is having a special event, let us know and we will include it in our weekly report and post it online under MO Events at http://AgriMissouri.com. To submit your farmers’ market event, email us at [email protected].
To find the local market for your market in your area, browse over 200 farmers’ markets across Missouri at AgriMissouri.com.