UPDATED! – Think About What’s In Season Now and Where to Find It – Sponsored by Vera
Various commitments and adventures have taken us away from the Beet this week. We apologize for the dearth of postings. What we wrote last week about what’s in season and where to find it, mostly applies this week, but we’ve added and updated as necessary.
There’s a great event this weekend of interest to local food fans. Taste Talks at Morgan on Fulton, brings together a stellar group of chefs, butchers, and foodarati. Of special interest at this point of year, Paul Virant and others will be talking about preservation. In addition to the local stars like Virant we’ve come to expect at events like this, Taste Talks brings in some names you may only know from their cookbooks such as April Bloomfield, and if you have any inkling of how the food world evolved over the last twenty of so years, you will know the name, Fergus Henderson, here to talk with our guys on whole animal butchery.
It looks like fall fully settled into the area. This means two things for us locavores. Foremost, grab those tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and summer squash still around in the markets. They won’t be here very long. Then, you can start more safely stocking and storing. Build your supplies of potatoes, onions, garlic, and shallots for winter cooking. Dry some herbs and peppers to make your future dishes taste more your own. Find the unique and special apples that won’t be around later. As we keep on saying, these things take about zero effort. Ideas for cold storage include porches, crawl spaces, basements, and garages. Use coolers, garbage cans, CSA boxes (but turn them in!) to keep your stored produce dark and away from animals.
What’s in season now is exactly why it’s time to think ahead. We told you last week that it does not take much effort to get a little local food for later. You can be a locavore a little more often just by drying some peppers as we show above. Still, you might ask yourself, why now. We have Chicago area farmer’s markets year round, and more and more stores specialize in local food. Yes, there was a time when stocking and putting away were the only ways of assuring continued local eating. Do I have to do all that now?
We offer two good reasons to make now the season of hording, of stocking, of filling the larders, building the root cellar and being ready.
- You won’t be able to find it later
- You won’t be able to get it for less
You Won’t Be Able to Find it Later
Like we said, it’s a lot easier to eat local over the course of the year now in Chicagoland. We can shop winter markets, hit various stores, and go on-line with our friends Irv and Shelly. Will we find what’s there now? Take apples: you will be able to get local apples for many months to come, but in the months that come, what varieties will there be? Will you find an especially cool pie apple like our Midwestern Spy? Or potatoes:, in the dead of winter as farmer’s clear out their bins, will the come in blue, pink and magenta as well as dirty brown? Onions too, you want trorpea or cipollini, don’t think they’ll be around later. Buy the unique, the fancy, the fun stuff now.
You Won’t Be Able to Get It for Less
Now’s the time farmer’s are pushing stuff out. There’s only so much stuff you can take with you, so to speak, if you’re a farmer. A lot of great tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, and more gets turned into animal feed this time of year. Now is the time to make that great deal on a bushel of tomatoes. Stock up on local grapes because they’ll last a long time in your fridge. Buy too many peppers so you can roast them, cover them with oil and keep them for a while in jars. We tend to focus on when local food is expensive, but this time of year it can be pretty cheap.
Thinking about doing more to put away, here’s our guide to making the most of the seasonal bounty.
UPDATE: Chef Mendez at our sponsor,Vera, has embraced fall on his menu with dishes like brussels sprouts and bacon and marinated beets.
The full depth of the local food scene is always on display in Jeannie’s Local Calendar.
What’s In Season Now
It’s fall. For farmer’s it’s been fall for nearly a month; on the calendar, it just happened. It means there’s squash and lots of root vegetables now at the market, but summer still holds a place in our menu hearts, and there’s no reason yet to give up on it’s bounty.
From the Ground
- Cukes and zukes
- Sweet peppers – try the longer “carmen” peppers for variety
- Poblano peppers – as Michel Morowitz once said, whatever a green [bell] pepper can do, a poblano pepper can do it better
- Various “frying” peppers – melrose, shishito, padron
- Hot peppers – jalapenos, serranos, cayenne, etc.
- Shelling beans
- Green beans
- Brussel sprouts
- Winter squash
- Celery root
- Sweet potatoes
- Greens including collards, turnips (often with turnip roots attached), and mustard
From the Trees and Bushes
- Plums – mostly the purple “Italian” varieties
- Asian pears a/k/a papples
- Meats, poultry, lake fish
- Milk, cheese and other dairy
- Grains and breads
- Preserved and jarred products
Where to Find Local Food
UPDATE: Markets are winding down, and your neighborhood market may be over. The ones listed below are still hoppin’, and over the next several weeks, we will highlight markets running. If you need no other reason to stock up, ask yourself, will my market be there next week? Note, many of the away markets we highlighted in this post extend far into the fall (and beyond). In addition to the markets, check out the Sugar Beet Coop and these other stores for local food.
Good salumi at a farmer’s market is just one of the reasons we love the Logan Square Farmer’s Market. Sundays 10 AM – 3 PM (yes!) – Logan Boulevard, just east of Milwaukee
Down at 61st our friends at Experimental Station run a diverse, well stocked market on Saturdays – 9 AM to 2 PM - This market accepts the LINK card – 6100 S. Blackstone
Looking for the Condiment Queen and her sun golds and you cannot make it to Oak Park because you live in the Big City. Well, Tomato Mountain and some of the other Oak Park Farmer’s Market faves like Geneva Lakes produce and Hardin Farms Michigan fruit are at the Andersonville Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays from 3 PM to 7 PM (note, in the fall the market closes an hour earlier). This market accepts the LINK card – 1500 Berwyn
Green City Market is overflowing right now. Saturday from 7 AM to 1 PM – Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1817 N. Clark)
It it’s Thursday and we’re in the Loop, you cannot do wrong with Daley Plaza, which is filled with vendors including produce, breads and prepared foods. 7 AM – 2 PM - This market accepts the LINK card. - 50 W. Washington
We’ve always been impressed by what they’re doing at the Glenwood Market. This market accepts the LINK card. Sundays from 9AM to 2 PM - Southbound Glenwood Avenue between Morse & Lunt
Have we mentioned donuts. Family ties? Well, what about one of the few area markets with locally tapped maple syrup? Jim the Vinegar Guy? Sadly, no Hazzard Free grains this year. Saturdays from 8 AM to 1 PM - 460 Lake
There are often times, when we think about these things, quantify these things, we say this is the best there is in the Chicago area. There’s the heirlooms, the regular, meats, cheeses, breads, the unique and the mundane, about all you could want in one market. Saturdays from 730 AM to 1 PM - University Street & Oak Avenue
Very close Beet ties to this one, so get there on Saturday and shop, shop, shop. Saturdays 8 AM to Noon - 6210 Dempster
Do you think we’re not gonna include something way far away? The Geneva Green Market has been focusing on organic and sustainable farmers for a while and is worth the visit if you are anywhere close (or not as it’s a great drive or a great train ride). Thursdays 9 AM to 1 PM - 327 Hamilton Street
Why not a farmer’s market by a farm? Glenview lets you do that on Saturdays from 9 AM – 12 PM - This market accepts the LINK card. - 1510 Wagner Road
What’s In Season and Where to Find It – Sponsored by Vera 1023 W. Lake, Chicago