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    New Year, New Products to Try From the Farmers’ Market

    By Debra Morris–

    Do you ever get tired of making the standard, run-of-the-mill recipes? Does your family groan when you serve the same old dinner again? Why don’t you try some unique produce the next time you cook?

    Uncommon and interesting produce from the farmers’ market can make your meals a veritable delight of flavors and textures. Expand your cooking horizons this year and try some new and tasty fruits and vegetables. Your resolution should be to excite the taste buds and enlighten your family about all the wonderful produce out there!

    This interesting produce comes from many sources, especially from farmers of different cultural backgrounds. California is especially fortunate in the availability of uncommon produce because of our immigrant culture. Most of this produce cannot be found at the grocery store, especially when it comes direct from the farm to you!

    Try some of these amazing fruits and vegetables this year. If you like what you see and want to try something new, ask the farmers how to choose what’s right for your recipe and how to select and prepare it for the best results. They will be happy to introduce you to the product and answer your questions.

    • specialty greens: (year-round) Mounds of fresh bok choy, tatsoi, mustard greens, Chinese broccoli, gailan, savoy (Napa) cabbage, and more are available. There are also yam leaves, pea shoots, and chrysanthemum greens. These are grown by Hmong farmers who have come from Southeast Asia, bringing with them the produce they are familiar with.
    • finger limes: (winter) Measuring about 2 to 3 inches long, finger limes resemble jalapeños or gherkins. They’re filled with tiny, juice-filled lime-flavored beads (vesicles) that spill out when you slice or snap open the fruit. They are originally from Australia and the rainforests of New Guinea!
    • sugarcane: (winter) This is the stalk from which processed sugar is derived, but eaten in its natural state. It is native to the warm temperate and tropical regions of India, Southern China, Brazil, and New Guinea. Sugarcane was brought to the Americas in the 15th century, by way of Portuguese traders.
    • cherimoya: (winter/spring) These are heart-shaped fruits that have a scaly, greenish skin and creamy, white flesh. Each has a soft custardy flesh that tastes like a pear with hints of mango, pineapple, and coconut. This fragrant fruit is native to Central and South America.
    • kohlrabi: (fall, winter) It looks like a little sputnik space ship with stems coming straight up from the round body. It grows in green or purple. A wild ancestor of kohlrabi is believed to have originated in Central Europe. 
    • celeriac: (summer, fall, winter)It looks like a knobby brown root and has an earthy taste with a slight hint of celery flavor. The texture is close to a turnip or potato.
    • chayote squash: (summer) Chayote plants grow as climbing vines. Originating in Mexico, the squash is consumed in dishes throughout Central and South American cuisines. The texture is similar to an unripe pear and has a mild squash flavor.
    • quelites: (year-round)Many farmers grow wild Mexican greens called quelites. They are the young, tender parts of edible plants traditionally used in Latin cuisine. They are slightly bitter and herby. They include purslane, epazote, nettles, and lamb’s quarters.

    For 2024, turn up the edible excitement and brighten up your everyday cuisine with some unique products from your farmers’ market. You can find some of these products at J&M Farms out of Hollister and Jacob’s Farm in Merced.

    The Castro Farmers’ Market is closed for the season and is scheduled to reopen on April 3, 2024. In the meantime, please visit the Divisadero Farmers’ Market at 1377 Fell Street or the Inner Sunset Farmers’ Market at 1315 8th Street. Both are in San Francisco on Sundays year-round from 9 am–1 pm. For information about additional local farmers’ markets, as well as on recipes and more, visit the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association website:

    Debra Morris is a spokesperson for the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association.

    This Month at the Farmers’ Market
    Published on January 11, 2024