Uncommon and interesting produce from the farmers market can make your meals a veritable delight of flavors and textures. Expand your cooking horizons this year and try some new and tasty fruits and vegetables.
All this interesting produce comes from many sources, especially from farmers of different cultural backgrounds. California is especially fortunate in the availability of uncommon produce because of our immigrant culture. You will not find most of this produce at the grocery store, especially not direct from the farm.
If you like what you see and want to try something new, ask the farmers how to choose what’s right for your recipes and how to select and prepare it for the best results. They will be happy to introduce you to the product and answer your questions.
Mounds of fresh bok choy, tatsoi, mustard greens, Chinese broccoli, gai lan, savoy (Napa) cabbage and more are available year-round. You can also find yam leaves, pea shoots and chrysanthemum greens. Many Hmong farmers from Southeast Asia provide these options.
Finger limes: Measuring 2-3 inches long, finger limes resemble jalapeños or gherkins. They come filled with tiny, juice-filled, lime-flavored beads (vesicles) that spill out when you slice or snap open the fruit. Originally from Australia and the rainforests of New Guinea, they are available in the winter.
Sugar cane: The stalk from which processed sugar is derived can be eaten in its natural state during our winter months. It is native to the warm temperate and tropical regions of India, Southern China, Brazil and New Guinea. Sugar cane came to the Americas in the 15th century, by way of Portuguese traders.
Cherimoya: Available in winter/spring, this heart-shaped fruit has a scaly, greenish skin and creamy, white flesh. The soft custardy flesh tastes like a pear with hints of mango, pineapple and coconut. This fragrant fruit is native to Central and South America.
This vegetable looks like a little Sputnik spaceship with stems coming straight up from the round body. It grows in green or purple and is available in fall and winter. A wild ancestor of kohlrabi is believed to have originated in Central Europe.
Celeriac: Available summer through winter, it looks like a knobby brown root. Celeriac has an earthy taste with a slight hint of celery flavor. The texture is close to a turnip or potato.
Chayote squash: This squash, available in the summer, grows on climbing vines. Originating in Mexico, they are used in dishes throughout Central and South American cuisines. The texture is similar to an unripe pear with a mild squash flavor.
Quelites: Many farmers grow these wild Mexican greens year-round. They are the young, tender parts of edible plants traditionally used in Latin cuisine. Slightly bitter and herby, they include purslane, epazote, nettles and lamb’s quarters.
For 2024, turn up the edible excitement and brighten up your everyday cuisine with some unique products from your farmers market. You can find some of these products from FT Fresh Produce of Fresno, Halog Farms out of Merced and Oaxax Organic Farm in Greenfield.
Concord’s Farmers Market happens every Tuesday, 10 AM to 2 PM. For more information, visit PCFMA.org.