Michael Pollan recommends shopping at the farmers’ market because in-season produce is the most flavorful and nutritionally dense produce available to us. Shopping at the farmers’ market is also really, really fun. Unlike going to the grocery store, where you know that you’re going to find a bin stocked with lemons all year long, the farmers’ market offers patrons an exploration through time and place, an exploration that is constantly changing as the last winter lemons fall off the tree and the first spring carrots are uprooted from the ground. With that said, here are my favorite things at the farmers’ market right now.
While Baja Arizona is still very hot, the first apples of the season are a sure sign that fall is coming. Due to the fact that Baja Arizona has much less rainfall than other apple-growing regions such as Washington, Arizona apples are generally smaller and denser with a much sweeter and more concentrated flavor than those from the grocery store. Toss them in a Fall Salad, bake them in a Cinnamon Apple Pie, or layer them between bread and cheese in an Apple and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese.
Surprise! Summer squash is more than just zucchini, and the farmers’ market is the perfect place to discover your favorite heirloom variety, like bush yellow scallops, black beauty zucchini, and crookneck squash. With a little extra peeling and seeding, most varieties of summer squash can be used in place of zucchini. Sweeten them up in Honey Cardamom Zucchini Bread, coat them with parmesan breadcrumbs and fry it, or make them disappear in a bowl of pesto pasta.
Stone fruit is one of the best parts of summer, and plums are no exception. They’re best eaten ripe, right off the pit, or slow cooked with some honey to make a jar of sticky preserves.
Not all cucumbers are alike. At farmers’ markets in Baja Arizona, you’re likely to find pickling cucumbers, Armenian cucumbers, and lemon cucumbers, amongst many other varieties. Pickle them for some day in the future, stuff them for a well-rounded meal, or roll them up for a hand-held treat.
Lucky for us, Baja Arizona peaches are still making their way to the farmers’ market each week. Pack them in your lunch for a sweet treat, blend them into a creamy smoothie, or stir them into your morning oatmeal.