NEW YORK — The winter months get a bad rap for being barren when it comes to fresh, local food.
While many of the city’s 138 farmers markets close just before Thanksgiving, a handful stay open all year round, making up for a relative lack of produce by providing other cold-weather staples such as butter, cream, baked goods, wine and hot apple cider.
"There’s such a terrific variety for food,” Hodesh said. “[And] it’s a great season to be at home cooking and making hearty food that you can find great ingredients for at the market.”
Among the goodies available during colder months at New York City farmers markets are butter and cream, which are crucial for winter-time baking, Hodesh said.
Some farmers sell cranberries, which are a staple of many holiday dishes, and hard apple cider, while other vendors stock flour that can be used to make pie crusts, she added.
In addition, storage crops such as winter squashes, apples and potatoes are available at local markets, as are meats and fish, she said. GrowNYC also offers cooking demonstrations at the markets it runs and distributes free recipes for those looking for a little guidance and inspiration.
To help shoppers make the most of what’s local and available during the winter, DNAinfo.com New York has compiled a list of several farmers markets operated year round by GrowNYC.
Union Square Greenmarket: This market, in Union Square, is a favorite among both residents and chefs for local, fresh fare all year long. Among the wintertime vendors at the market, which has been operating since 1976, is Eve’s Cidery Essence, which sells apple wine made from cider apples grown in the Finger Lakes. Beth’s Farm Kitchen makes a cranberry horseradish chutney, which Hodesh said goes well with Thanksgiving leftovers. Flying Pigs Farm offers lard and pre-made pie crusts, and River Garden sells dried wreaths made of flowers and herbs. The market is open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Inwood Greenmarket: The Inwood Greenmarket, located next to Inwood Hill Park, is open Saturdays all year round. There, King Ferry Winery sells a variety of wines from Cayuga Lake that pair well with holiday meals. Ardith Mae Farm offers fresh and aged goat cheese, Ronnybrook Farm Dairy sells fresh butter and cream, and Wood Homestead specializes in delicious maple syrup.
Tompkins Square Park Greenmarket: The Tompkins Square Park Greenmarket, near Avenue A and East 7th Street, features turkeys and turkey sausage — classic holiday staples — from DiPaola Turkeys. A variety of pies and baked goods are available from Baker’s Bounty in Linden, N.J., and Meredith’s Country Bakery. And the Vermont-based Stannard Farm stocks a selection of winter squashes to keep cooks happy throughout the winter months. The market is open Sundays all year round.
Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket: Brooklyn’s largest market, located near Prospect Park West and Flatbush Avenue, is open Saturdays all year round. In the winter months, the fresh, local fare includes pork sausage from Bradley Farm in New Paltz, N.Y., and duck from Hudson Valley Duck Farm. The market also offers beeswax candles and honey from Nature’s Way Farm and pickles from the New York City-based Rick’s Picks. Root vegetables and hearty greens are also available, courtesy of Phillips Farm in New Jersey and Evolutionary Organics in New Paltz.
Fort Greene Park Greenmarket: This year-round market, located along the southeastern corner of Fort Greene Park, is open every Saturday and features fresh seafood from Pura Vida Fisheries and hard cider from Bad Seed Cider Company. Wilklow Orchards sells apples and pears from Highland, N.Y., and Hot Bread Kitchen keeps the market well stocked with challah, Moroccan flatbread and homemade granola.
Jackson Heights Greenmarket: This year-round market in Queens, located on 34th Avenue at 77th Street, offers beef, pork and eggs from Sawkill Farm. The Monkshood Nursery, from Stuyvesant, N.Y., sells fresh sunflower and mung bean shoots. Long Island-based winery Castello di Borghese offers a variety of wines, and Consider Bardwell Farm, from Vermont, sells aged goat’s milk cheeses.
Bronx Borough Hall Greenmarket: Although The Bronx is a borough full of farmers markets, it can be hard to find one that's open year round. The Bronx Borough Hall Greenmarket, located on Grand Concourse at 161st Street, comes close, keeping shoppers happy every Tuesday until Dec. 18. Those looking to whip up meals full of local eats can stock up on breads and baked goods from Francesca’s Bakery, based in Middlesex County, N.J., and can grab vegetables and orchard fruit from Migliorelli Farm in Dutchess County. For shoppers hoping to stock up before the market closes for the season, Red Jacket Orchards sells preserves from Ontario County, N.Y., and Ballard’s Honey sells honey from Delaware County, N.Y.
Staten Island Mall Greenmarket: Staten Island is similarly starved for year-round farmers markets, but this one, located in the mall’s main entrance parking lot on Richmond Avenue, stays open until Dec. 22. Until then, shoppers can purchase tree fruit and baked goods from The Orchards of Concklin in Rockland County, N.Y., and vegetables from R & G Produce in Orange County. The market is open every Saturday.