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Late Summer Is Peak Season at Your Local Greenmarket

By Heidi Patalano | August 26, 2013 7:42am
 Late summer is a great time to find plenty of interesting fruits and veggies at the greenmarket.
Late Summer Finds at the Greenmarket
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UNION SQUARE — What’s in season these days at the greenmarket? The short answer — everything.

With summer nearing its end, warm weather fruits and vegetables are at their peak. At the same time, autumn veggies are starting to make their first appearance at the market. It’s the best of both seasons for farms in the NYC metro area.

DNAinfo New York took a trip to the Union Square Green Market to ask farmers about the fruits and veggies that are available this week. Here’s a look at what’s fresh.

The Staples

It’s a great time to buy locally grown stone fruits. Caradonna Farms in Marlboro, N.Y. brought piles of yellow peaches, white peaches, donut peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums to market. Nearly every stall has heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes on offer, along with loads of herbs, carrots, garlic beets, cucumbers and lettuce greens. Blackberries and raspberries were also available at selected stands. (For an easy tomato salad recipe click here.)

Beans, Beans, Beans

Berried Treasures of Linden, Pa. brought a trove of unique bean varieties to the market.

“The shell beans are the big claim to fame,” owner Franca Tantillo said. “They’re something very special that people can’t find all over the place.”

Cranberry beans, jacob's cattle beans, calypso beans, green romano beans, cannellini beans and your garden variety haricot verts were all available from Tantillo's farm.

The red and white speckled jacob's cattle beans are an heirloom variety that have a rich aroma and hold up well after a long cooking process.

The beautiful purple-streaked cranberry bean is the size and shape of a pinto bean and can be used in a similar manner to the pinto.

Calypso beans are a red and white or black and white heirloom variety, with a flavor similar to that of a cannellini bean.

Green romano beans are those recognizable grocery store snap beans. They are sweet and crunchy when eaten raw.

The Early Autumn Arrivals

Caradonna Farms brought its first honeycrisp apples to the market this week, as well as red clap pears. Breezy Hill Orchard of Rhinebeck, N.Y. brought ginger gold pears for the first time this year.

After taking a break for the hottest months of the year, kale is coming back to the market.

While potatoes have been popping up at the market throughout the season, "new potatoes" made their first appearance at Berried Treasures this week.

“People don’t really know what a new potato is,” said Tantillo. “Every variety is a new potato when it’s dug out of the ground where the skin is flaking off. They call them new potatoes because they harvest them first — usually within 60 days.”

These small, soft, prematurely dug-up potatoes make a great accompaniment to any main dish. Berried Treasures had several heirloom varieties available, such as ruby crescent, purple Peruvian and the French fingerling variety la ratte.

The Funky Stuff

Some vegetables at the greenmarket aren’t what you’d consider mainstream.

Black radish, sparkler radish, red celery, dandelion, puntarella and mizuna greens are all new to the Paffenroth Gardens stall this week. The Warwick, N.Y. farm also brought celeriac to market.

“Consumers don’t buy too much of it,” owner Alexander Paffenroth said. “Restaurants use it and they are who buy the majority of it. A remoulade is a standard thing [to make with it]. My wife uses it in soup. It has a very mild taste. It’s a European thing.”

Puntarella is a chicory-like green that can be cooked or eaten raw in a salad. Peppery mizuna works in a stir-fry or soup.

And look out for more ramps at the city's farm-to-table restaurants. While ramps were one of the greenmarket’s first arrivals in the spring, the plant's maturation through the season has given it a second life.

“All the fancy chefs are pickling them,” Tantillo said. “[As ramps mature] they get woody and they’re not usable. Now the shoot’s gone up, the ramp is soft again and you can use them and you have the little capers on top. Use the bottom as an onion and pickle the top.”