Friday, November 8, 2013

This Week at the Durham Farmers Market

Last week, I briefly talked about how the frost turns certain vegetables sweeter. I knew that it was a often talked about phenomenon and I have even tasted it, but I didn't know the science behind the sweetness. This week, I took some time to delve a little bit deeper into that topic.
Old ladies, experienced farmers, and seed catalogs all say that certain varieties of in the Brassica family (Kale, Collards, Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage to name a few) are "sweeter after the frost". Author Steve Solomon explains in his book Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades that the sweetness in the vegetables is a physiological response to cold weather. He says, crops like kale and collards "increase the amount of sugars and other substances in their cells. This sugar solution acts like an anti-freeze." The increased sugars protect the plant and delight the eater!

Carrots and other root vegetables also benefit from increased sweetness with the frost. Unlike the greens which produce extra sugars, carrots convert their starches into sugars for a similar protective effect. In his book Four Season Harvest, author Eliot Coleman says "the effect of cold temperatures on root sweetness turns normal carrots into 'candy' carrots".

In an email interchange that I had with Norm Budnitz from Four Leaf Farm, he helped to explain the science behind the increased sugars and the anti-freeze effect. Norm told me that as the sugar increases in the plants, it helps to "lower the freezing point of the water in the cells". He goes on to say that, "when the outside temperature dips below 32F, the water [in the plants] stays liquid and the cells don't burst." He also used the analogy of sea water to help explain the protective effect that the increased sugars which are in solution with the water molecules has in these plants. He said that "sea water, full of dissolved salt, freezes at a lower temperature than fresh water".

As the weather gets colder and more frosts occur, try and take a mental note of how the flavor of vegetables change in response to the weather! It is fascinating to me how many factors change the flavor of the foods that we eat - soil, elevation, geology, water, temperature. Every single farm that sells their vegetables, meats and other goods has slightly different conditions on their farms and the vegetables and meats pick up these flavors, the terroir. It certainly makes eating locally grown foods exciting and a constant learning experience. The Durham Farmers' Market has maintained it commitment to offering you great, local foods for the past 15 years and we will keep doing it for many, many years to come!

With wintertime around the corner, the Market will soon be changing to Winter Hours. Below is are some important dates to remember as the winter comes...
Tuesday, November 26th, 2-5pm - PRE-THANKSGIVING MARKET! This year we'll be holding another special Market for you to stock up on the freshest, local food for your holiday meal. If you are looking for a local turkey, Fickle Creek Farm is now taking orders to holiday birds!
Saturday, November 30th - MARKET CLOSED. This is the one Saturday during the year when the Market closes. Have no fear! We'll be open all winter!
Saturday December 7th - WINTER HOURS BEGIN! This Saturday, the Market will switch to our Winter Hours and will be open weekly from 10am-Noon. We'll be open rain, snow, sleet or shine! And you'll get to meet some new vendors too!

See you at the Market,
Erin Kauffman
Market Manager
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Upcoming Events
Saturday Novmeber 9th, 9am - Noon - Storytelling! Local storyteller Cynthia Raxter will be spinning tales for all ages! She'll be telling stories about Thanksgiving on the farm on Sassafras Mountain.

Saturday November 23rd, 10am - Chef in the Market! Amy Tornquist & Matt Lardie from Watts Grocery will be cooking and sampling some Thanksgiving-y dishes!

Mark your calendars!! TUESDAY NOVEMBER 26th - Pre-Thanksgiving Market, 2-5pm! Stock up with your local needs for your holiday meal. Also, Fickle Creek Farm is now taking orders for Thanksgiving Turkeys.

Fresh this Week....
FRUITS: Persimmons - Native & Asian Varietues, Scuppernong & Muscadine Grapes,
VEGETABLES: SPINACH, TURNIP GREENS, MUSTARD GREENS, TAT SOI, CABBAGE, Acorn Squash, Arugula, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Bok Choi, Butterbeans, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbage, Cherry Tomatoes, Collards, Daikon, Delicata Squash, Fennel, Fresh & Dried Herbs (Cilantro, Mint, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Sorrel, Parsley), Frisee, Galangal, Green Onions, Garlic, Ginger, Gourds, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mizuna, Mustard Greens, October Beans, Peppers, Potatoes, Pea Shoots, Pumpkins, Purple Hull Peas, Radishes, Salad Mix, Shiitake Mushrooms, Spaghetti Squash, Swiss Chard, Sweet Potatoes, Greenhouse Grown Tomatoes, Turmeric, Turnips, Winter Squash, Zucchini, and more
MEATS AND EGGS:  Rabbit, Beef, Bison, Chicken, Duck, Goat/Chevon/Cabrito, Lamb, Pork, Veal, Rabbit, Duck Eggs & Chicken Eggs
CHEESES: Fresh and aged COW and GOAT milk cheeses.
PLANTS: Bedding, House, and Flower Plants.
FLOWERS: Mixed Bouquets
SPECIALTY ITEMS: Raw and Creamed Honey, Flour, Cornmeal, Grits, Baked Goods including Pies, Breads, Cookies & Pastries, Fermented Foods, Beer, Wine, Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Preserves, Wool
CRAFTS: Pottery, Jewelry, Handmade Baskets, Woodwork, Photographs, Hand-dyed Clothing and other items, Handmade Clothing, Goats Milk Soaps, Body Butters, Lotions, Yarn, Roving, and much more...

Produce availability depends on weather conditions 

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