Farmers’ Market Report 04/30/2012

baby turnipsWelcome to May and the official start of farmers’ market season. As the rain moves out this week, the weather should be perfect to head to your local market, meet farmers and find all kinds of great things to eat. For a preview of what you might find, check out his week’s farmers’ market report:

Fruits:
Fresh strawberries have made their way across the state and the recent rains should make them nice and juicy. Early varieties of blueberries are also ripening in Mid-Missouri. Some markets are also seeing apples coming out of cold storage, which might be a little pithy.

Leafy Greens:
Chards, mustards, kale, spinach, micro greens, bib lettuce, leaf lettuce and arugula love the recent cool, wet weather. The fresh spinach you can find at a farmers’ market is something to be coveted. To keep the crop coming, farmers have to tend it almost daily, making sure the leaves don’t get too big and to prevent the plant from going to seed, ensuring that you get the most fresh, sweet, crisp yet tender leaves available. Whether it is in a salad, a salad by itself, sautéed or creamed, it is hard to beat the spinach you can get right now at your local farmers’ market. If you live for the freshness only seasonality can bring, now is the time to gorge on some fresh local spinach.

Napa cabbage, bak choy, pak choy and other Asian greens are also abundant if you are looking for something more exotic. Traditional cabbages are available in loosely formed heads, but supplies may be limited as they really need more heat to thrive.

Root Crops:
Beets, carrots and turnips from fall plantings are available. There are also some coming in from high tunnels now. They are perfect for roasting on the grill in foil, fresh in a salad or sliced for snacking.

Radishes are perfect now, and the hotter it gets outside, the hotter they will get. French Breakfast is the earliest and mildest of traditional varieties. White Icicle and Purple Top are on the hotter side. Daikon is the mildest as you will find, but tastes more like a jicama than a radish. No matter how you like them or slice them, this is peak season for radishes.

If you see them, potatoes should be from last year. They have probably been in cold storage and will sprout fast if not refrigerated. If they form eyes before you can enjoy them, they should be great for planting.

Vegetables:
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. The early heat has caused much of the large scale asparagus growers to run out early. Only those who pick regularly and leave the young shoots behind should have them available. It has been a great spring for mushrooms, but morels are starting to fade out.

Sweet corn availability is determined as much by the hours of light as temperature so it shouldn’t be in until July regardless of when it was planted. The same is true for peppers.

Peas, mostly snow and sugar snap, are starting to come in, but supplies will be limited. Make sure you get them early if want some, but don’t be surprised if you eat them all before you leave the market.

Squash, pole beans and cucumbers are arriving in limited quantities from high tunnels. Large quantities typically won’t arrive until late May or June.

Tomatoes:
Greenhouse tomatoes are available at a few locations. Heirloom varieties are very unlikely until summer. Temperatures below 60 degrees can compromise the texture of a tomato so don’t be surprised if any you see 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.

Events:
Did you know AgriMissouri.com maintains an Events Calendar for all things gown and make in Missouri? If your farmers’ market is having a special event, let us know and we will post it online under MO Events at http://AgriMissouri.com. To submit your farmers’ market event, email us at agrimo@mda.mo.gov.

To a market in your area, browse over 200 farmers’ markets across Missouri at Agrimissouri.com.

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