There are those farmers who are by nature fantastically outgoing. Yeah, Alex Weiser, we're talking about you. And there are those, like Mike Moessner, who fall on the soft-spoken side of the apple equation.
Sure, perhaps those moments that Moessner politely excused himself to help another customer ("Excuse me, thank you and nice to meet you...") swayed us in regard to his sauerkraut and pickled beet demeanor as well. Or maybe, as we're pretty confident on a second blind home-taste, they're great. Great bargains, too.
And yeah, we know you (we?) can make both sauerkraut and pickled beets at home. And you probably have, as have we. But when those last few weeks -- days? -- of summer are reminding you to Go To The Beach Now, the current canning and "artisanal" preserving craze can seem a bit tangential at best for that long, long sunny California winter ahead.
Enter these really good, and actually affordable (Read: Old School, No "artisan" prices) sauerkraut and beets.
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Sauerkraut is a very personal thing, a powerful pickled entity that always seems to invoke heated conversations over tang and texture. Moessner's version is a peaceful balance, not too heavy on the vinegar, but with just enough to make that acidic presence known. That crisp but thinly shredded cabbage no doubt has something to do with it.
The beets? These are guilt-inducing, simply roasted with onions and spices, ramped-up with vinegar and served straight up. With a touch of sugar, we presume, but perhaps it's just the sugar cane-quality of beets. There is much "should have" guilt here, as we know we can make them ourselves. But we don't. And these are all of $3 (yes, $3) for a small jar, $5 for the large jar. Less than what, by our amortized estimates, we're paying for farmers market beets, vinegar, spices, and a touch of sugar.
Affordable "artisan" fare that's been -- as always -- right under our nose for years. What a novel concept.
Moessner Farms attends the Wednesday Santa Monica, Thursday Tehachapi, Friday Ridgecrest and Saturday Bakersfield farmers markets.