Posts Tagged ‘plums’

Sunday, August 24th: Prolific Crops of August, 2014!

August 23, 2014
Bags of pickling cucumbers from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Bags of pickling cucumbers from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

As growing seasons go here in Washington, few in memory have been more epic than the summer of 2014. Crop after crop has come in earlier, produced larger yields and tasted better than ever before. And one such stunning crop is pickling cucumbers, which have been with us in earnest since a mind-blowing June! These particular bags of pickling cukes come from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. As you can see, their cukes are nice and straight, making them ideal for packing in mason jars for pickling. And you can get these bags pre-sorted by size, such as “extra small,” “small,” “medium” and “large,” so if you are putting up a lot of pickles this year, you can just get the size you want in one of these bags and make your like much easier. I have been pickling Stoney Plains cukes since the mid-1990s. I used to get them from Terry’s dad, Bob Meyer, at the Olympia Farmers Market that he helped found in the late 1970s. In fact, Bob also help found Washington Tilth Producers, Washington State Farmers Market Association and the Organically Grown cooperative distributors. We lost Bob back in 2002, but all of us who love great, local food here in Washington still owe him a great debt of gratitude, and I, for one, dedicate one jar of pickles to his memory every year!

Hot chile peppers from Alvarez Organic Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Hot chile peppers from Alvarez Organic Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

I was over visiting Hilario and Eddie Alvarez on their farm in Mabton, Washington on Friday. Alvarez Organic Farms now counts the number of chile pepper varieties they grow at more than 400, many of which are new varieties without names that have resulted from crossbreeding amongst the other varieties. Don Hilario took me on an exhaustive tour of his pepper fields (well, it exhausted me, but I think he could have kept going all night), and just when I thought I had seen every pepper on earth in the many acres of peppers in the fields behind his house on the mother farm, he said with pride, “Okay, now let me show the farm where we grow the bigger varieties of peppers!” I think that farm had more peppers on it than the mother farm. Hilario grows them all with pride, and his son, Eddie, brings them by the truckload to us here at your Ballard Farmers Market every Sunday. For that, we are all grateful. 2014 is an extraordinary year for peppers, too, with the hot, dry, sunny days making their plants produce more peppers that are more colorful, sweeter and hotter than ever! Enjoy.

Fresh basil from Growing Things Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh basil from Growing Things Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

It is time to get your pesto on, folks, or whatever you like to do best with fresh basil from Growing Things Farm! Their basil is so beautiful and fragrant right now, ready for your caprese salads, that fish, that perfect dessert with peaches and more. I had the good fortune of visiting Michaele and her crew on the farm on Thursday in Duvall, and to see their robust basil fields. This is food grown with love!

Purple Sensation pears from ACMA Mission Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Purple Sensation pears from ACMA Mission Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Say what? Yes, these are a new crop of pears. These are organic Purple Sensation pears from ACMA Mission Orchards, just in time for packing in the kiddies lunch bags (say it ain’t so!). And in case you haven’t noticed, this year has seen the fruit trees of Washington put out record fruit sets of the most delicious fruit ever, earlier than ever. See, global warming does have its up sides.

Tomatoes from Colinwood Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatoes from Colinwood Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatoes. If you aren’t relishing 2014’s absolute abundance of tomatoes of all kinds, you must not love tomatoes. Because many of us live through the cold, dark, wet months solely for the promise of farm fresh, vine=ripened tomatoes come summer, and this summer’s bounty is enough to carry us through two Northwest winters. These gorgeous maters are from our buddies at Colinwood Farm in Port Townsend.

Blueberries and raspberries from Hayton Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Blueberries and raspberries from Hayton Farms. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Just in case you missed the memo, raspberries are back in full force now from several farms. These are from Hayton Berry Farms, up in Skagit Valley. They’ve also got these lovely blueberries currently, as well as their most prolific blackberry harvest in years. Yes, this continues to be an epic year for berries folks. Make sure you take advantage!

Bratwurst from Skagit River Ranch. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Bratwurst from Skagit River Ranch. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Holy cow! Labor Day Weekend is next week! Time to get ready. Load up on sausagessteakschops and more from Skagit River Ranch today, and get grilling with the family while everyone is all in one place at the same time for the last time until Thanksgiving!

Baby red romaine lettuce from One Leaf Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Baby red romaine lettuce from One Leaf Farm. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Look kids! It is adorable little heads of baby red romaine from One Leaf Farm! The summer of 2014 has been great for lettuce, too. One Leaf grows a lovely selection of heirloom lettuces that are beautiful and delicious. But like so much else this summer, you had better enjoy it now with vigor, lest you regret missing it come December.

Fortune plums from Collins Family Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Fortune plums from Collins Family Orchards. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

We are getting into serious plum season now, with such deeply sweet and complexly flavored varieties such as these Fortune plums from Collins Family Orchards from Selah. They are big, juicy and ready to eat, and you have to admit, they are also gorgeous, eh?

Eggplant from Alm Hill Gardens. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Eggplant from Alm Hill Gardens. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Spectacular eggplant from Alm Hill Gardens awaits you today at your Ballard Farmers Market! I enjoyed some simply pan-fried last night. Awesome. Eggplant, like peppers and tomatoes, comes from the summer-loving nightshade family, and that means it, too, is having an epic year. Try some on the grill, alongside those sausages!

Fresh kombucha from CommuniTea. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh kombucha from CommuniTea. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Have you had a refreshing bottle of kombucha from Communi-Tea Kombucha lately? Then today’s is a good day for one! Communi-Tea brews its kombucha in Seattle’s Central District. It is real, unfiltered, and comes with a small amount of naturally occurring alcohol, so you have to be 21 to buy it. But that means this is honest kombucha. And it comes in eco-friendly refillable bottles, too!

Jersey cow yogurt from Samish Bay Cheese. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Jersey cow yogurt from Samish Bay Cheese. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Looking for Jersey cow yogurt? Samish Bay Cheese, from Bow, Washington, has it! They offer it in plain and Greek, and occasionally they have seasonal flavored versions. Samish Bay also has a great lineup of award-winning cheeses, as well as grass-fed beef and pastured pork. Yummers!

Raisin pumpernickel bread from Sonhomish Bakery. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Raisin pumpernickel bread from Sonhomish Bakery. Copyright Zachary D. Lyons.

Have you been on the lookout for a nice raisin pumpernickel bread around Seattle, but been frustrated in your search? Snohomish Bakery has you covered! So grab a loaf today, and enjoy the toast you’ve been missing tomorrow!

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.

Sunday, August 25th: Fresh Shelling Beans, Crisp Celery, Marvelous Melons, Bagged Bulk Cukes, Pretty Pears & More!

August 24, 2013
Fresh cranberry beans from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh cranberry beans from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Hey kids! It’s shelling bean season! And they are in much earlier than last year. These are cranberry beans from Alm Hill Gardens. You are probably most familiar with them as dried beans, but when they’re fresh like this, they are quick to cook and extremely versatile. Honestly, my favorite thing to do with them this time of year is make succotash. Grab some bacon from Skagit River Ranch, some sweet corn and parsley from Alm Hill, some green onion from Children’s Garden and some garlic from Jarvis Family Garlic Farm, and you’ve got all the ingredients you’ll need for a simple and fresh succotash. Enjoy!

Cantaloupe melon from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cantaloupe melon from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Okay, admit it. You just banged your nose or your finger into your screen while going after this gorgeous organic cantaloupe melon from Alvarez Organic Farms. I snapped this photo on Wednesday at our sister Wallingford Farmers Market. Oh, if you could just smell this melon. Wow. Sweet and juicy and absolutely incredible tasting.

Bagged bulk pickling cucumbers from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Bagged bulk pickling cucumbers from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

If you are like me, when you make pickles, you make a lot of pickles. See, I use them as gifts and trade all winter long. Well, to make things easy for folks like us, Stoney Plains Organic Farm offers these bulk bags of their certified organic pickling cucumbers. They pack them in 20 pound pages, and I figure about a pound per wide-mouth canning jar. I love working with their cukes in part because they are straight and uniform, making packing of pickle jars easier.

Asian pears from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Asian pears from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This time of year, it is kind of mind boggling just how many different varieties of fruit you will find coming into season at ACMA Mission Orchards. Like these Asian pears that just came into season this past week, along with something like four different kinds of peaches, a couple kinds of apples and a plum. What makes things more challenging and adventurous for us is that many of these varieties will only be available at your Ballard Farmers Market for a week or two, so if you want to try them, or if you already love them, you need to act fast, but do so with the joy of knowing that next week, you’ll get to test drive a whole new selection of fruit.

See, ACMA plants a huge diversity of fruit trees, not just because they like each variety, which they do, or because they think it’s cool to offer such an extraordinary number of different kinds of fruit, though we think it’s cool. No, they plant all of these varieties because they come in and out of season a few at a time, from the start of June through the end of October. It just makes good business sense to have fresh fruit every week, you know? And each type of tree in their orchards is naturally genetically programmed to have its fruit come to maturity at a different time. If they had just one or two kinds of cherries, apples and peaches, not only would it be boring for us, but their entire year’s income would be dependent on the success of a few crops, and at greater risk to the mercies of the marketplace. That’s the fate many orchardists face who mono-crop for the big packing houses whose prices are set on the commodities markets, and who sell only a few varieties to the Big Box stores, because that’s what they’ve trained people to think of as “cherry” or “peach” or “apple.”

That’s why ACMA instead comes to your Ballard Farmers Market. You get a plethora of fruit varieties all year long. They get a much more secure and sustainable marketplace for their harvest, and they don’t have to share the sales price with a bunch of nameless, faceless executives from the packing houses, warehouses, brokers and Big Box Stores.

Tomatoes from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatoes from Summer Run Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomato season is in full swing now at your Ballard Farmers Market, and I thought I’d take a break from showcasing our new resident rock star tomato farmers at One Leaf Farm to share with you some gorgeous tomatoes from our friends at Summer Run Farm, which is just across the valley from One Leaf. Yeah, baby! More maters!

Bartlett pears from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Bartlett pears from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It is pear season at your Ballard Farmers Market, earlier than we’ve ever seen them before. These beauties are Bartlett pears from our friends at Collins Family Orchards. They’ve also got some great late-season peaches and nectarines now, too. This really has been one amazing summer, eh?

Fresh Herbs de Provence & Garlic-Parsley Chevre in new packaging from Twin Oaks Creamery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Herbs de Provence & Garlic-Parsley Chevre in new packaging from Twin Oaks Creamery. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Meet Herbs de Provence and Garlic-Parlsey chevre from Twin Oaks Farm in Chehalis. Okay, this chevre is not new to your Ballard Farmers Market, but it is different. See, they ditched the plastic wrap and switched to small containers for their packaging. It makes for a more attractive, less messy chevre that is easy for you to dive into, and you can reuse or easily recycle the container — more than you can say for that plastic wrap!

Crisp celery from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Crisp celery from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Maybe it’s just me, but frankly, I was almost as excited to see this fresh crop of celery from One Leaf Farm show up this week at our sister Madrona Farmers Market as I have been to see all of their dozen or so tomato varieties come into season. Seriously, there is nothing quite like a crisp stalk of locally-grown celery fresh from the farm. It is sweeter and tastier, and once you try it, you won’t look at this staple of most kitchens quite the same when you see it in the Big Box stores.

Red Hiromi plums from Tiny's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Red Hiromi plums from Tiny’s Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Now, that is one spectacular plum, don’t you think? It is a Red Hiromi plum from Tiny’s Organic Produce. It is the first plum harvested at Tiny’s each summer. It tends to have a mildly sweet to slighty tart flavor, and it must be very soft before eating to bring out maximum flavor, Tiny’s advises.

Korean garlic from Jarvis Family Garlic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Korean garlic from Jarvis Family Garlic Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Have you checked out the selection of heirloom garlics offered by Jarvis Family Garlic Farm from over in the Dungeness River Valley of Clallam County in the Banana Belt? It is amazing stuff grown in an microclimate perfectly suited to garlic. Jarvis has garlic ranging from mild to hot, pleasant to testing who loves you after you’ve eaten it. Stop by for a garlic lesson, and try out a few kinds. Remember, there is no such thing as too much garlic.

Fresh pink salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh pink salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It is high time for pink salmon from Loki Fish at your Ballard Farmers Market. Whether you are enjoying the last of their fresh catch from Alaska, or the first of their Puget Sound catch, which just started, this wonderful salmon that is so often relegated to cans is incredibly versatile. It takes well to grilling, smoking, pickling, marinating, seasoning and saucing. It is pink instead of red, like its cousins, because pink salmon is vegetarian. And it only returns to Puget Sound every other year, which makes it so much more important to enjoy it now, while you can. 2013 is shaping up to see an historically large pink salmon run here, too. So, celebrate with our truly local salmon!

Fresh grapes from Magana Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Fresh grapes from Magana Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Magaña Farms has the first table grapes of the year for your snacking, juicing and raisining pleasure. These white table grapes are wonderfully sweet and juicy, and they beat the heck out of eating grapes from the Southern Hemisphere, which you end up doing much of the year, if you are getting your grapes from the Big Box store. Washington produces a lot of grapes. They don’t all have to be made into wine.

Experimental brie from Port Madison Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Experimental brie from Port Madison Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This is called Experimental Brie, and it is one of three kinds of brie that Port Madison Farm is making currently with its goat milk. It has a lovely tang and a flavorful rind, and it just begs for a nice crusty baguette from Tall Grass Bakery. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we only have three more weeks with Port Madison’s cheese before they leave us again. So take full advantage of their wonderful offerings now!

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.

Please remember bring your own bags every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.

Sunday, September 2nd: Westside Sweet Corn, Bartlett Pears, Soft Pretzels, Padron Peppers, Turkish Eggplant & Some Very Large Stories!

September 2, 2012

Sweet corn from Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I cannot remember a year in which sweet corn from Western Washington came into season this late. What a bizarre year this has been. And now, we are in what seems like an endless summer pattern in which we are well positioned to break the record for the most consecutive days without rain. Huh? Weren’t we just whining about too much endless rain?  Wasn’t July the wettest one ever? Well, we’re heading into El Nino, folks, and according to the weekend weather woman on Fox News, that means it’s likely to be a warmer, drier fall than normal, so things may be coming on late, but hopefully they will stick around longer, too. Anyway, this is all to say, enjoy some Westside sweet corn from Stoney Plains Organic Farm today at your Ballard Farmers Market.

Oh, and while you’re at it, please vote right now for your Ballard Farmers Market in the 2012 America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest. See, voting closes tomorrow, and we need at least 200 more votes to finish where we did last year, in the top 10, though 400 more would put us up in the top 3. Now, I know about 1,500 people are going to read this today. Voting only takes about 30 seconds. Click the link, click on “Ballard Farmers Market”, and then vote. Simple. Please don’t be the person who figures that the other people with vote, so you don’t have to. If they think the same way, then who’s gonna vote? I mean, we know you love your Ballard Farmers Market, since you read these words of, ehem, wisdom every week. Please share that love with the world with your vote! Thanks!

Fortuna plums & Bartlett pears from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It’s plum and pear season, folks! Woohoo! Check out these gorgeously delicious Fortuna plums and Bartlett pears from Collins Family Orchards. The plums will certainly satisfy the making a mess of your face and shirt requirements for this weekend, and those pears will easily pack with you in your lunch box next Wednesday when you head back to school, bringing with you a little yummy reminder of the wonderful summer we’ve had.

Meadowfoam honey from Golden Harvest Bee Ranch. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This Meadowfoam honey from Golden Harvest Bee Ranch comes with a bigger story than most honey, and that’s saying something, because all honey comes with a big story. In this case, this honey is the product of the bees of Tom Schioler, the man behind the tables of honey you see every week at the Market, in front of Bastille, and he and the bees both have found themselves in a bit of a squabble with some apparently not so neighborly neighbors. On paper, it’s a squabble over property lines and land use issues, but in the end, what’s at issue is Tom’s bees, and the meadow on his property upon which they dine, and from which they produce this Meadowfoam honey. See, some people still just don’t get the importance of bees, and they see them as a nuisance. And one person’s beautiful meadow for bees is another person’s unkempt lawn that would do well with a nice application of Roundup. But without bees, a huge percentage of the food we eat would simple disappear, as it depends of the bees to pollinate it. The full story here is long and complicated, but ultimately, what you need to know is Tom’s bee ranch is under siege, requiring him to need to mount a legal response and hire a surveyor in order to set things straight and protect his bees. And you can help simply by purchasing this Meadowfoam honey. Oh, and I imagine Tom would be happy to give you the unabridged story, too, if you ask him!

Serrano peppers from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ah, pepper season. And to say Hilario Alvarez of Alvarez Organic Farms is proud of his pepper crop is an understatement. He should be proud. He grows around 200 different varieties of peppers, some of which he has developed himself. An immigrant farmer from Mexico, Alvarez worked for years as a farm laborer for other farms in the Yakima Valley, eventually working his way up to being a foreman, the entire time squirreling away his wages and slowly investing in land of his own. Now, he is one of the most renowned organic farmers in the nation, Hispanic or otherwise, and his pepper fields are the stuff of legend. During the harvest season, these fields look much like the tulip fields of Skagit County during the spring Tulip Festival, awash in a rainbow of colorful peppers. For the next two to three months, we get to enjoy these peppers at your Ballard Farmers Market, in every color and intensity imaginable, from the mild gypsy sweet peppers, to the pleasantly spicy serrano peppers pictured about, all the way up to the notoriously hot ghost chili. Plus, they have their beautiful pepper wreathes and garlands to brighten up your home!

Soft pretzels from Grateful Bread Bakery. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These are Grateful Bread Bakery’s new soft pretzels, and they are perfectly soft, salty and chewy. They made this Philly ex-pat a little homesick, in fact. Seriously. The only thing they lack is some yellow mustard. Lots of yellow mustard! Nuff said.

Suncrest peaches from Martin Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These are the big, juicy peaches dreams are made of… and messy shirt fronts! These are Suncrest peaches from Martin Family Orchards. Several years ago, I visited a Serbian restaurant in Milwaukee, and the owner told me this amazing story of fighting with the Yugoslavian resistance during WWII, and how he and his two brothers escaped Yugoslavia in 1956 by climbing over the Alps into Austria when the Soviets invaded Hungry, as the Yugoslavian military left the border along the Alps open as they scrambled to the Hungarian border. He told me that they then joined their father in Milwaukee at his restaurant, which he had named Three Brothers in just the hope his three sons would eventually join him there in freedom. It was one of the great life stories I’ve ever heard. But when he heard I was from Washington, all he wanted to talk to me about was these big, beautiful, juicy peaches!

Padron peppers from Full Circle Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Padron peppers are beloved in Spain, where they like to flash fry and salt them and snack on them. They serve them this way right down Ballard Avenue at The Walrus & The Carpenter, in fact. But not too many folks grow them around here. One farm that does is our own Full Circle Farm from over in Carnation. These peppers are mild, with a lovely, green flavor, though it seems that due to some weird genetics, one in 10 of them turns out spicy hot. It makes eating them a little bit of an adventure!

Heirloom tomatoes from Oxbow Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of “finally on the Westside”, how’s about these heirloom tomatoes from Oxbow Farm? Again, I cannot recall a year in which these came into season so late. Confounding, really. But here they come, so dive in and enjoy them while you can. Go tomato crazy! Because they’ll be gone again soon enough.

Berries from Hayton Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Berry season seems to keep plugging along, though. Seems like it may go on forever, and I can live with that. Especially when Hayton Berry Farms keeps bringing this dazzling, colorful collection of berries for us to enjoy. Just remember, alway get twice as many berries as you think you’ll need. Trust me on this.

Turkish eggplant from Tiny’s Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These stunning fruits are Turkish eggplant from Tiny’s Organic Produce. Sure, you may know Tiny’s for all the amazing kinds of tree fruit they grow, but they also grow some fruits of the vegetable persuasion. Fruits like cucumbers and eggplant. And not the ordinary varieties either. They grow an amazingly collection of heirloom varieties of these two crops. You know, sometimes I think that Tiny’s uses three criterion to choose what crops they plant — they have to be delicious, stunningly beautiful and have a really cool name and story behind them!

Early gala apples from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These early Gala apples from ACMA Mission Orchards are a little less sweet and a little more tart than their winter counterparts, making them perfect for adding to salads. And they are wonderfully fresh and crisp right now, providing a satisfying crunch when you bite into them.

Finally, another reminder to please bring your own bags today, and every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.

Sunday, July 29th: Tieton Cider Works, Organic Sweet Corn, The Cherry’s Cherry, Heirloom Tomatoes & Oh, So Much More!

July 29, 2012

The hard cider lineup from Tieton Cider Works. Photo courtesy Tieton Cider Works.

Happy Sunday, good citizens of the People’s Republic of Ballard, as well as our regular readers in Qatar, Norway and Pakistan, and even the four of you in England who apparently spent the day yesterday reading this blog instead of paying attention to the Olympic frenzy that has embroiled your fair nation! It is the last Sunday of the month, and that means we get a visit from another member for the Washington Cider Association in the place of Finnriver Farm & Cidery. Today, we welcome Tieton Cider Works with a lovely variety of ciders they like to call, “Traditional Ciders, Re-Invented.” Stop by, say hello, and grab a bottle or three. You can thank me later.

Sweet corn from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2011 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Okay, the wait is over. Organic sweet corn has arrived from Alvarez Organic Farms at your Ballard Farmers Market! Woohoo! But wait, there’s more! Alvarez also now has tomatillostomatoeseggplant, okra and soon, peppers! Oh, I so love this time of year.

Vans cherries from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Vans cherries from Collins Family Orchards are the cherry’s cherry. They are the dark cherry, with a beautiful, deep, rich flavor that is not overly sweet or watered down. If you like cherry that smacks you upside the head while you exclaim, “Boy, howdy!” at the top of your lungs, then try some of these bad boys. Because Rainiers and bings are not the only cherries out there… heck, they’re not even the best cherries out there. But vans have a relatively short season, and not too many farms bring them to Market, so take advantage of this opportunity to try them today.

Buttercrisp Bibb Lettuce from Nature’s Last Stand. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Is not this buttercrisp bibb lettuce from Nature’s Last Stand gorgeous? Delicious and refreshing, too! And look at that beautiful heart. Seriously, you are imaging munching on it right now, aren’t you? Of course you are!

Japanese truffle heirloom tomatoes from Billy’s Gardens. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Dear summer. Thank you for heirloom tomatoes. Sincerely, everyone! Yes, that’s right. Billy’s Gardens is now harvesting the heirloom tomatoes for which they are famous, including these Japanese truffle tomatoes. Stunningly beautiful, and equally tasty. It’s time to celebrate! Grab some basil from Alm Hill Gardens and fresh mozzarella from Golden Glen Creamery, and makes you some caprese!

Peppers from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Peppers, yo! Yes, those crazy cats at Colinwood Farms just keep winning the race to be the first to come to Market with one crop after another — this time, with these lovely peppers from their greenhouses. And for those of you who think greenhouses are cheating… are you out of your minds? I keep hearing people saying, “Oh, but that’s from a greenhouse…”, like something is wrong with greenhouses? No, what’s wrong is the headedness of people who think that way. Greenhouses have been around for a very long time. They are just another tool farmers use… you know, like tractors… and dirt! I suppose these pretend purists would  rather have a shorter harvest season. Heck, let’s forget tomatoes altogether in Western Washington, for that matter, because I have yet to meet a farmer who doesn’t use a greenhouse to at least start their tomato plants. As if.

Flavor supreme pluots from Tiny’s Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of stunning, how’s about these flavor supreme pluots from Tiny’s Organic Produce? I think they might be the most beautiful of stone fruits. (Coolest looking is reserved for donut peaches, also in season now.) Pluots, a cross between plums and apricots, are firmer than both while still being plenty sweet and juicy. And they come in all sorts of varieties. Now’s a great time to experiment with them, as so many are currently in season.

Squash blossoms from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These squash blossoms from Growing Things Farm are so brilliant, it seems a shame to eat them. But hey, if you don’t, they’re just going to shrivel up and turn to mush in a couple of days, so you might as well stuff them with some fresh goat chevre from Port Madison Farms and fry them up for dinner tonight, eh? Oh, and with these flowers comes summer squash, too. Growing Things has their famous baby squash available now, too!

Shiro plums from ACMA Mission Orchards. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Shiro plums are the pride and joy of Japan, and they make for some absolutely amazing wine. But not too many folks grow them around here. Lucky for us, our own ACMA Mission Orchards does! This mildly flavored, sweet, juicy little plum is a delight, but only for a few weeks do we get to enjoy it, so grab some while you can.

Treviso radicchio from Full Circle Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

One of the most beautiful of vegetables, for my money, is this treviso radicchio from Full Circle Farm. This is also my favorite radicchio. When cooked, it is the sweetest of these bitter chicories. Try slicing it down the middle, lengthwise, dousing it in olive oil, and grilling it, finished with a nice sea salt and some good balsamic vinegar. Or cut it up and sauté it with some nice, smoky bacon. It is a perfect side for a nice steak or chop!

Red oakleaf lettuce from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Last but not least today, we remind you of last week’s return of Boistfort Valley Farm after an unusually long winter hiatus this year. But they came in as strong as ever, making it worth the wait. Boistfort Valley is known both for its stunning produce and its stunning displays, and as one small example, just look at this red oakleaf lettuce. Spectacular, eh? And yummy! Stop by and welcome them back, and pick up some amazing deliciousness from Southwest Washington.

Finally, another reminder to please bring your own bags today, and every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.