You may still be in a turkey coma, but our farmers are refreshed from their weekend off from the South Durham Farmers’ Market and ready to continue the harvest.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and your local farmers’ market will be open with special hours this week. Your local farmers and local markets have been planning and planting for weeks in order to help you prepare the freshest, local Thanksgiving meal.
Winter may be coming, but that does not mean you are sentenced to a diet of frozen vegetables. At the South Durham Farmers’ Market, S&H Farm will still be selling freshly harvested produce from their greenhouse and three high tunnels even in the middle of February.
The first frost has officially come to Durham and our local farmlands. That means summer veggies like eggplant, okra, summer squash, melons, etc. won’t be available at farmers’ markets until next year.
Recently, a few friends have asked, “Is there even much produce available at the market right now?”
At this point in the fall, a scene at the Durham Farmers’ Market might look a little something like this: piles of orange, white, and blue pumpkins of all shapes and sizes on one side of the aisle and mountains of assorted greens varieties stacked on farmers tables on the other side of the aisle.
While the leaves on the trees are turning and falling, leaves of another sort are flooding the South Durham Farmers’ Market.
Ginger. Turmeric. Galangal. These are names that you expect to find in the spice aisle, not at a farmers market.
But over the past couple of years, local farmers have been experimenting with growing these exotic spices. Now, in the fall, alongside the pumpkins, sweet potatoes and greens, you’ll find these three spices in their fresh form at the Durham Farmers’ Market.
Ginger, turmeric and galangal are all closely related and most commonly grown in tropical locations. So, it is natural that these three plants like the moist, humid weather of the southern summer. Because of their tropical origins, they need about 7 months of warm, 80-degree-plus weather to mature enough to harvest and enjoy.
Here in the Piedmont of North Carolina, we almost have that length of warm weather, but not quite. So, local farmers start their plants in the greenhouse in late winter and then move the plants outside when the weather has warmed up. By late September, fresh baby ginger, turmeric and galangal roots are ready to be harvested. Farmers will continue harvesting until we reach the first frost.
Since these are all relatively new items to start showing up at local farmers’ market, you may wonder how to use them. Let’s start with ginger. The locally grown, fresh ginger isn’t the brown colored ginger you see in the grocery store. It has a lovely ivory and pink color and it doesn’t need to be peeled -- you can use the whole thing. Because it is freshly dug and hasn’t been cured for storage, it has a higher moisture content and bright gingery flavor. You can use it wherever you enjoy ginger, in soups, stir-frys, juices and sweets. Market customers also have told me that fresh ginger is perfect for making candied ginger.
Turmeric is most often used in Indian and Thai cuisines and is known for its bright orange color. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, which has made it a staple in Ayurvedic medicines. To use fresh turmeric, you can slice it up or grate it and add it to curries, stir-frys or soups. Also available at the market are turmeric leaves, which can be used to steam things like fresh fish or vegetables.
Galangal is a little bit less well known than turmeric or ginger. Like the others, it is often found in Thai, Vietnamese or Indonesian cuisines. I’m most familiar with its use in soups such as Tom Kai Gai and Tom Yum, which are often on menus at Vietnamese restaurants. Fresh galangal is also often used in south Indian curries.
Have fun experimenting with these new spices that local farmers are growing. I’m sure before too long, they will be incorporated into southern cuisine in delicious and innovative ways.
Erin Kauffman is market manager of the Durham Farmers’ Market, which is open 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays at 501 Foster Street in downtown Durham.
Farmers’ markets have become one-stop shopping destinations that include not only local fruits and vegetables, but also locally prepared foods, dog treats and even bath products. At the South Durham Farmers’ Market, we have are lucky to have Shorganics and Rolling Hills Soap, as well as handcrafted goat milk soaps from Parker Farm & Vineyards.
As a lover of both animals and meat, I insist that the meat on my plate originate only from humanely raised animals. That is why I now buy all my beef at the South Durham Farmers’ Market. We have six beef vendors at the market, Bull City Farm, Fickle Creek Farm, Green Button Farm, McAdams Farm, Sassafras Fork Farm and Walters Unlimited, and all six raise grass-fed cattle on pasture without the use of hormones or antibiotics.
South Durham Farmers' Market’s Bruno has spent his nine years protecting the lives of others. At all times he remains diligently alert to threats and willing to clash with a hodgepodge of formidable vermin.
Have you ever wondered how a mushroom grows? Or have you ever been curious what a farmer at the Farmers’ Market is referring to when they talk about a “chicken tractor”? Do want to see what a milking parlor looks like?
Shopping for food at farmers markets has lots of advantages, but one of the best perks is finding foods that aren’t available in grocery stores Figs are one of those foods, and right now, figs are at the height of their short season.
Most Saturdays, shoppers at the South Durham Farmers’ Market can peruse the eye-catching floral arrangements and a wide array of produce from McAdams Farm, but two decades ago, 40 acres of the McAdams Farm would have been dedicated to a single crop – tobacco.
Meadow Slavinsky is turning 2 this September, and ever since she began eating solid foods, all the fruits and vegetables she eats at home have come from the South Durham Farmers’ Market.