Now that summer’s over, you’re probably thinking that there’s no point in going to the farmers market. It’s not like there are any vegetables in December, right?
Actually, late fall is my favorite time to visit the Schenectady Greenmarket because I love fall vegetables. Brussels sprouts and kale need a touch of frost to bring out their full flavor. Sweet potatoes, my favorite, need time to cure. Baskets at the market are filled with winter squash- butternut, acorn and carnival.
While the time for brussels sprouts is almost over, we’ll have winter squash and kale for at least a couple more months. And we’ll have the storage staples, potatoes, onions, beets, carrots and garlic, throughout the winter. Cabbage is another winter staple, but can be hard to find at the Greenmarket. Not trendy enough, I guess.
Several farmers have greenhouses and grow salad greens and tomatoes through the winter, although they tend to be pricey. Which is appropriate, if one insists on eating summer vegetables in the middle of winter.
Maynard Farms and Migliorelli Farms have mastered the technique of storing apples in controlled atmosphere (low oxygen) cold rooms so that the fruit is delicious all winter. The pears are wonderful, too.
Along with the fruits and vegetables, the winter farmers markets still have beef, pork, lamb, chicken, milk, eggs and baked goods. All the fixings for a well-balanced diet, long after the growing season has ended.
Cheryl Nechamen is a retired molecular biologist and full-time fan of local food. She coordinated the 100 Mile Diet Challenge in 2006 and 2007 and was one of the organizers of the Schenectady Greenmarket. Cheryl also enjoys growing vegetables in her small yard in Schenectady and in the garden at Congregation Gates of Heaven.