Every week the Homer Farmers Market has some sort of surprise available, but at this time of the year the surprises are everywhere.
OK, so vegetables aren’t really all that surprising. But they can be a source of curiosity and bewilderment. For example, try explaining what a ground cherry tastes like. You know what a tomato tastes like, maybe even know what a tomatillo is like, but that will not prepare you for the sweet little critter inside of that husk of their cousin known as the ground cherry. You will be in for a surprise.
There are lots of foods out there that we don’t normally see in the grocery stores. The industrial food complex has narrowed down our options to the ones that are most easily grown in a specific time span to a specific size that fits a specific kind of machinery and holds up best for shipping. They are not necessarily grown for taste.
That is why chefs love farmers markets. The variety of things that you can find in these local high tunnels, greenhouses and fields are often like nothing you will see you in a grocery store. Just take the example of cucumbers. You may have an English cucumber in your basket already that is fresher than any at the store, but then you get to the Driscoll Farm booth down by the birch syrup. Here you will also find lemon cucumbers, martini cucumbers and pickling cucumbers. Maybe there are some daikon radishes in your basket. Now you can add or choose from an array of pink, white or red radishes too.
But maybe all of the subtleties of different vegetables aren’t your thing. No worries. They’re always plenty of different fruits to choose from at the Market too. Well, not always, but at this time of the year we are swamped with a great variety from hascap berries and saskatoons to black and red currants, from blackberries and strawberries to red or golden raspberries and from apples to cherries.
So head on down to Ocean Drive from 10 a.m.to 3 p.m. this Saturday or 2 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays to find a new surprise for your basket.
Kyra Wagner is the coordinator of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.