The Farmers Market in Oregon in July-August is a sight to behold. It’s a happy and colorful place. The variety of fruits and vegetables is amazing and some of them are pretty exotic and never make it to regular grocery stores. If you are an adventurous cook, visiting local farms and farmers markets should be on your priority list. Here is a sneak pick of what you can find there.
We all know English cucumbers: big, straight, green and, quite frankly, tasteless; slicing cucumbers: those are the most common type seen in supermarkets - usually six to nine inches long, with glossy dark-green skin; and maybe Persian cucumbers: they are a smaller version of slicing cucumbers and are sold mostly at Trader Joe's. However, there apparently exist many more different types.
I asked every single member of my family to guess what it is. Nobody guessed right. But, yes, these are cucumbers, too! They are called Lemon cucumbers. They have a mild but very refreshing taste.
Yep, cucumbers also. These are White cucumbers, similar in taste to lemon cucumbers.
Pickling cucumbers. As the name states, you can pickle them. However, they are also the best cucumbers to eat raw, having the strongest taste among all cucumber types. Just don't forget to peel them, as the skin might be a little bit rough.
It's probably hard to see on the picture, but these guys are tiny. The smallest is about half an inch long. Because they are so young they are extremely tender as a whole, including the skin. You can add them to your dishes as is, i.e without peeling or even cutting them.
My favorite way to cook young potatoes, though, is to boil them (again with skin and without cutting). Drain the potatoes, add a little bit of butter while they are still hot, so the butter will melt, crushed garlic, salt, and finely chopped fresh dill (in the picture on the left). Yum!
It comes in variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.
Check out this article for some recipes:
Squash blossom are squash flowers. And yes, you can eat them. As they have the shape of a small bag, they can be stuffed with different things, including ricotta cheese, meat, and sea food, before being deep fried. Check out this recipe:
Squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta
This is a summer must! Don't miss it! Summer tomatoes are nothing like the tasteless balls we find in grocery stores year-round. They are sweet, juicy, and have the smell and taste of the real thing.
My favorite type are Heirloom tomatoes. While they are in stores, I never managed to find good quality Heirloom tomatoes there, as they are always soft and overripe.
Heirloom tomatoes that you can find on farms and at farmers markets are exactly as they are supposed to be: firm, fresh, and juicy.
The amount of different types of tomatoes is almost endless. Go out there and find your favorite type now, before the summer ends.
Red Shiso is a herb in the mint family, but tastes nothing like mint. It is often described as tasting like anise, clover, and cinnamon. To me, it tastes like cumin, but in order to really understand how it tastes, you have to try it for yourself.
It's used in Asian, primarily Japanese, cuisine but could be a great addition to any other type of meal.
Fruits and berries
Not much to say here. There are a lot of them and they are great: peaches, apricots, cherries, all sorts of berries, grapes, etc. These tiny grapes in the picture below, Reliance grapes, are fabulous. Just enjoy them as much as you can, while they last.