If you’ve been to the market lately, you will realize there’s a lot of local deliciousness available right now. Tomatoes are everywhere. We’re up to our ears in corn. You can’t swing a cat without hitting cucumber or squash. We’ve got everything you would expect to see at a farmers’ market this time of year. We also have lots of things that you may not expect – there is cheese. Who doesn’t like cheese? There are vendors with baked goods made from freshly-milled grains – Mae Benson’s Conejo Cookies are pretty darn tasty! You can get a cup of freshly brewed coffee and buy a bag of beans or ground coffee to take home (all varieties from both vendors are fair-trade). The watermelons and cantaloupes have been a hit for the last couple weeks and they are grown right down the road in Osage County.
It has been mentioned that what some people like about our little market is the variety. You can find so many varieties – heirloom and hybrid of tomatoes. Want pole beans or bush beans? You can decide! Our farmers want to grow things you will enjoy. There are many different types of peppers coming into season right now. Do you like your peppers hot or sweet? Do you want a mild jalapeno or a fiery one? You’ve got a choice. And the best part is you get to ask the grower, the person who knows that produce best, what it tastes like or how it was grown.
You can really do a large chunk of your shopping at the market – pastured beef, pork, chicken and eggs are all available from farms in Cole and Callaway counties.
You may have noticed the Native Plants/Sprouts and Roots tent at the market. All week long a group of 18 kids ranging in age from 5th to 8th grade have been participating in a camp which focuses on gardening, agriculture and nature. We spend a bit of time working on entrepreneurial pursuits as well. Students learn about farmers’ markets and what it takes to sell something they have made. This week we have learned about native plants and the community garden, pollinators, and crawfish farming. Campers have spent a day hiking a wilderness area and experiencing nature, learned the importance of activity through archery, and seined crawfish from a farm pond. They’ve spent time in our commercial kitchen learning to make salsa, and bake cookies. They’ve helped prepare gumbo and a crawfish boil with crawfish they caught themselves. They will be participating in our market this Saturday. Please stop by and support this great program. Try a jar of their fresh salsa or a package of persimmon cookies. All proceeds go to the program. They will also have various crafts they made during the week available.
There will also be live music this week from Mike Gorman and friends. Grab a cup of coffee and a tasty cookie, pie, blueberry swirl or cinnamon roll and hang out with us for awhile!
You may have noticed that the market has been swimming in cucumbers lately. Here’s a great way to utilize cucumbers. This is a recipe I taught recently at an introduction to fermented foods at the Missouri River Regional Library. These pickles must be refrigerated after the fermentation occurs, just save a spot in your fridge – it’s worth it! The tannin in the grape or oak leaves help keep the pickles crisp. Make sure to use fresh ingredients. This is not a recipe for pre-chopped, bottled garlic. The library has some great books on fermentation, if you’d like to learn more.
Adapted from Real Food Fermentation by Alex Lewin
Yield: 3-4 pounds
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 3 days – 2 weeks
- 3 to 4 pounds small, thick-skinned cucumbers
- 2 quarts chlorine-free water
- ½ cup sea salt
- Seasonings: generous amounts of dill, whole garlic, bay leaf, red pepper, whole black pepper, mustard seed, etc. (optional)
- A few fresh grape or oak leaves
- Cutting Board
- 1 gallon pitcher
- ½ gallon mason jar, or a plain glazed ceramic crock
- Something to hold the cucumbers under the brine
- Clean dishtowel or cloth to cover the top of the jar or crock
- Trim the blossom end off the cucumbers.
- Combine the chlorine-free water and salt in the pitcher.
- Place the seasonings and leaves at the bottom of the jar or crock, followed by the cucumbers.
- Pour the brine into the crock or jar.
- Weigh down everything so it stays submerged.
- If needed cover the top of jar with a cloth and secure with a rubber band or twine.
- Store at cool room temperature. Every day after the second or third, pull out a pickle, cut off a piece with a clean knife and taste it. When the pickles are pleasantly sour, but still crunchy, they are done. Move them to a cool place (like the refrigerator)
If a little mold grows on the top of the brine, it is not a problem – just remove it and continue. But, if there is a lot of mold, and it has long tendrils reaching down into the brine, it is a problem. Chalk one up to experience and send your pickles to the compost bin.
Wow! We had such a crazy, busy week last week that I didn’t get a post up about all the wonderful things we have at the market. This week I’m squeezing in a moment to let you know.
We will be downtown tonight (Thursday) from 4:30 to 6:30 on Madison Street next to the Governor’s Mansion. Saturday we will be in our normal campus location at 1219 Chestnut from 9:00 a.m. to noon.
At our Thursday market look for:
- cherry tomatoes
- peppers (sweet and hot varieties)
- banana and zucchini bread
- freshly milled bread & baked goods
- bath & body products
- jams & jellies
- grass-fed beef
- whole chicken
- summer squashes
- goats milk fudge and caramels
On Saturday you will find all that, plus:
More vendors and more local goodness!
- an even bigger variety of awesome baked goods & produce
- whole and 8-piece cut chicken
- green beans
- items from our Sprouts & Roots participants and the community garden
- native plants