You hear plenty about the benefits of eating organic, local, sustainable, etc., but not enough is said about how farmers market offerings provide variety from the run-of-the-mill produce at the supermarket. In their efforts to promote biodiversity and keep heirloom varieties in existence, our farmers don't just raise cherries, peaches, blueberries, and so on--they raise particular strains of them. If the variety's name isn't listed on the sign, ask!
This past Saturday, in my determination to branch out from Rainiers and Bings, I bought a pound of Van cherries. Dark red/purple like Bings, but a little sweeter. Nothing may surpass the blushing beauty of Rainiers, but a blind taste test might win Vans new converts.
Speaking of blushing, the array of peaches and apricots is dazzling. When I read David Mas Masumoto's Wisdom of the Last Farmer, I learned that "blushing" varieties of peaches crowded out non-blushing in supermarket demand, simply because they were prettier, not more flavorful. Yes, we are really that shallow. I've noticed both blushing and pale-faced peaches and apricots at the BFM and am determined to try them all. Consider Collins Family Orchard. I bought a couple pounds each of their peaches and apricots, put them in a brown paper bag at home, and enjoyed them a couple days later at the peak of perfection. Mouth-watering. For my fellow peach-pie makers, Collins reports that freestone peaches should be along in a few more weeks. And, if you buy them by the box (as pie-makers will), they'll be $1.20/lb! For a great peach pie recipe, check out the Bellevue Farmers Market Cookbook.
It's not only fruits and vegetables which can be called by name. Salmon lovers have long had their favorite varieties as well, fished in favorite locations. In our house we've been into the fresh sockeye found at Two If By Sea on Thursdays and Loki on Saturdays. I'll leave you with this recipe we enjoyed last night, adapted from Good Housekeeping:
3 Tbsp Daniel's Honey (Wild Flower variety)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly-ground pepper
Sockeye salmon fillets, up to 24 ozs total
Mix rub ingredients with 1 tsp very hot water to blend. Spread this all over the salmon fillets. Grill over medium heat until salmon turns opaque and flakes easily with a fork, turning salmon once with a wide spatula. (We just grill it on a rack.)
Try one new thing this week at the Market. You'll be glad you did.