What is a farmer to do when the end of the Market rolls around and there are veggies left over? I have the feeling that farmers eat a lot of pickles and sauerkraut.
I have a neighbor who pickles everything that gets ahead of her in her garden: turnips, peas, beans, you name it. Pickling can be sweet or savory (sweet ginger pumpkin pickles are my favorite) and need nothing more than fresh veggies, vinegar and spices.
Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut can be a bit more intimidating since it is a “live” food. Hogwash. Sauerkraut is the easiest thing on the planet. Cabbage and salt. That’s it. No excuses for not making it. A super healthy food that only gets more interesting as it ages, you can spice it up with other ingredients like some smoked jalapeños or fresh carrots and caraway.
I counted five vendors last week selling cabbage.
Though you can ferment just about any vegetable, some have been used culturally for eons. Napa cabbage is the favorite base for the spicy traditional kimchi that Korean food is famous for. Did you see that one of the Biggest Veggie Winners at last week’s Zucchini Festival was a 3.75 pound Napa cabbage? That’s a lot of kimchi.
There is a reason I am encouraging everyone to get in the mindset for preserving these veggies. I can’t count how often I have heard that you have to get to the Market at 10 a.m. to get any veggies. That may be true in May, but that is absolutely not the case in August.
Last weekend I had more than one conversation at 2 p.m. with farmers worried about not selling out of their huge, beautiful vegetables. Since my secret wicked plan for Homer is to get us growing all our own food, I get worried that farmers will just grow less if they don’t see the demand for their veggies.
So start pickling and fermenting and freezing and canning. Now is the best time of the year. Head down to the Homer Farmers Market on Ocean Drive Wednesdays from 2 to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to stock up.
Kyra Wagner is the coordinator of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.