It could be argued that it’s been here for some time now, but as I’ve written here before, I track Bay Area seasons by produce, not by weather.
I didn’t make it to the Temescal Farmer’s Market last Sunday, but as I walked up to the market this morning, I immediately could tell that it was no longer summer. The market’s thinned out significantly. No more Kashiwase Farms, with their juicy assortment of peaches, nectarines, plums, and pluots. Lucero Farms had also disappeared, and along with them, their summer squash, zucchini, and a dozen varieties of tomatoes, from Green Zebra to Brandywine. The crowds of shoppers had also thinned out, though the market was still busy.
As I wandered through the market, I picked up what will likely be some of the last fruits of the summer harvest: some bright yellow tomatoes and sweetly-pungent basil from Happy Boy Farms, and a pound of strawberries grown in Watsonville. (I also froze a few pounds of strawberries in October, knowing what a treat they’ll be in a few months.)
Though I’m sad to see the summer go, I’ve come to grow fond of fall (and even winter) produce in the Bay Area. Growing up, I always thought apples were edible, but I never thought much about their taste. Now though, I think of them as such a treat. Though a few farms offer apples at the Sunday market, I’m loyal to MacDonald’s Organic Farm. I highly recommend the unknown variety (really, that’s what they’re called), Fuji, and Jonagold. All of them have a balanced mix of sweet and tart. Be careful though – you’ll need a napkin to eat one because the juices will likely drip down your chin.
Persimmons are also a fairly new favorite of mine, since I never even tasted one until I moved to the East Bay! I like to munch on them, thinly sliced, with nuts. Or I add them to salads. They’re also scrumptious with many cheeses.
I pick up persimmons and other goodies at Twin Girls Farm, which has become my favorite farm stand to visit. Maybe it’s that the family who works at the stand has always been overly friendly, and they’re never shy to explain about odd fruits (like jujubes) or offer samples. I also like to support them because while much of their produce is certified organic, some of it is “transitioning”. Lacking the official organic stamp, I know others might be skeptical and shop elsewhere, but it seems pretty clear to me that they’re moving towards 100% organic. (KQED featured a nice piece about Twin Girls, complete with a slide show of the inner working of their farm.)
After picking out three small Fuyu persimmons, including this strange looking one below, I was excited to grab some of the remains of summer and a preview of winter. Grapes will soon be gone from the market so I plucked a couple large bunches. And to my surprise, Twin Girls is already offering tangerines! I practically live on citrus fruit during the winter and am excited to taste these…
Unfortunately, some fall produce is missing from the Temescal market. No farmers offer pears, asian pears, or figs! So I’ve only had a few pears this season that I picked up from the downtown Berkeley market, and I have splurged on some local organic figs at Whole Foods, though I try to avoid buying produce outside of farmers’ markets. So if you know farmers that offer these fruits, tell them to head over to Temescal next fall because they’ll make a lot of money and make me very happy.
Fall’s not completely about fruit though, and I did pick up some purple cauliflower, red peppers, and king oyster mushrooms. Here’s what I’ll be cooking with and devouring this week:
Summer’s gone, but I’m glad to know fall’s here.