Farmers’ Market Report 05/08/2012

carrotsThe first week of May meant opening day for many markets across the state. When it came to the selection, it looked more like the first week of June. With the extra warm spring and cooling temperatures this week, customers are getting the best of both worlds with lots of items usually not available until June and all the standards of spring. For a preview of what you might find at your local market check out his week’s Farmers’ Market Report:

Fruits:
Fresh strawberries are abundant right now. If we keep seeing cool nights across Missouri, they should hang around until June. Early varieties of blueberries are ripening in mid-Missouri so they should start coming in across the south. We are seeing some apples that have been in cold storage over winter, but they might be a little pithy.

Leafy Greens:
Chards, mustards, kale, spinach, micro greens, bib lettuce, leaf lettuce and arugula are all in their prime. Napa cabbage, bak choy, pak choy should be standards until July. Traditional cabbages are showing up in the south and ready statewide in a few weeks.

Root Crops:
Beets, carrots and turnips from fall plantings are here. They are also some coming in from high tunnels now. Radishes of all varieties are coming into peak season. Potatoes from high tunnels showed up in Kansas City last week and will be available at limited locations. Early potatoes should have a very thin and tender skin. If you see potatoes with thick or dry skins, they have probably been in storage since last year or have been shipped in from out of the country.

Vegetables:
Garlic scapes (flowers) are starting to form and the stems are great for stir frying. Scallions (green onions), ramps (wild leeks) and asparagus are all in season. Ramps are starting their seasonal die back to the ground, so get them while you can. 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.

Peas (mostly snow and sugar snap) are starting to come in. Squash, green beans and cucumbers are arriving in limited quantities from high tunnels. All of these are selling out fast so get their early if they are a must have.

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.

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 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. If the tomato is very firm and has a bright yellow ring where the stem should be, it has probably been picked green and ripened in the box. Just remember, a tomato is not ripe unless it feels ripe.

Specialties:
Carrots are spectacular right now and can come in all shapes and colors. The tender skin and sweet flavor of a fresh spring carrot is hard to beat. Dwarf round varieties are great for roasting with spring potatoes, and different varieties can have slightly different flavors. For something a little peppery and a splash of color in your pasta salad, look for Cosmic Purple. If you like them a little sweeter, look for yellow and white varieties. Of course most of the nutrients in a carrot are in the skin, and in fresh ones the skin isn’t bitter so you don’t need to peel them. No matter how you slice them, carrots fresh from the garden are something not to be missed.

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 find the local market for your market in your area, browse over 200 farmers’ markets across Missouri at Agrimissouri.com.

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