One of the joys of helping set up a farmers market each week is you get to see new wonders unfold, even before the early-arriving customers wander in.
Last year, we got new vendors around mid-season. The deeply tanned couple brought out basket after basket of scraggly vines with droopy leaves. It honestly looked like they were going to sell weeds, not vegetables.
As it turned out, the twigs held edamame, a tender, yummy baby soybean that’s become the rage at local restaurants. (Trivia fact: edamame is literally Japanese for twig [eda] bean [mame]). I’d just never seen them on the twig before.
But what was truly amazing wasn’t that first week; it was all the other weeks to follow. All told, Scott and Deanna vended 13 varieties of edamame; we were the delighted guinea pigs helping choose their eventual favorite, Dr. B’s 31, which will make its triumphant return to the market later this summer.
Now, you may not like edamame as much as we do. But I’ll bet you like garlic. And you have probably never seen garlic like we saw garlic last year. Scott and Deanna grow 50 varieties — from little pungent heads with a kick like jalapenos to large, lovely heads with long, stiff necks that looked a bit a golf-club driver.
Scott and Deanna operate as Swede Lake Farms, about an hour due west in Watertown, Minnesota. To produce those 50 varieties, they planted 37,000 cloves — by hand — working 12-hour days from mid-October to Christmas.
Perhaps you know a bit about garlic and you’re thinking, “Hey; it’s June. Heads grown in Minnesota aren’t ready yet. So why the big tease?”
Because, my salivating friend, the fresh local garlic season comes early in Kingfield.
Should you wander into a late-June market, you may indeed smell garlic. But you won’t find heads, or even cloves. Instead, you’ll see long green filaments that look like an extremely fat chive, or a fiddlehead without the tiny leaves.
These are garlic scapes. Scott says they only appear on the hardneck garlic— the golf clubs you’ll be able to buy later in the season. As one website puts it, scapes “curl upward as they grow, ultimately straighten, and then grow little seed-like bulbs. When the scapes are still in full curl, they are tender and delicious.”
Scott says not to trust the common wisdom that scapes are less garlic-y than bulbs. “Ours can pack a punch,” he says.
Depending on the harvest’ pungency, you can use them in stir fries, pasta, salads. You can satisfy your pesto jones and discover a new variation thusly:
• 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 3 Tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice
• ¼ lb. scapes
• ½ cup olive oil
• Salt to taste
Puree scapes and olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Stir in Parmesan and lime or lemon juice and season to taste. Serve on bread, crackers or pasta.
The market’s earthly delights are not limited to scapes, of course. New this year, Jill at Chase Brook Natural is selling farm fresh eggs and all-natural Polish sausage. Tammy Woodhouse is baking artesian bread, and Love Tree Farms, our new cheese vendor, is selling several varieties of dry-aged sheep cheese and creamier varieties that “foodies” die for.
Another new attraction is our once-a-month kids activities. Janie Elias, whose Simply Jane has helped revive the 48th & Nicollet business node, will be on hand the first Sunday of every month with all kinds of cool art activities.
Last two pitches: We’d love to add you to our weekly e-mail list; please send your name and e-address to [email protected] We could also use volunteers, both for the market day, and lit dropping new neighborhoods as we expand our Southwest presence. Please let us know at the same email address. Thank you and see you at the market!
Kingfield Farmers Market
The market runs every Sunday through October, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 43rd & Nicollet. We feature locally grown food, music and more! For more information, visit kingfieldfarmersmarket.org.