What's in Season at the Farmers Market: Shinkos and Sunchokes

There are still a few tables of stone fruits hanging around (the September Yummy from Tenerelli pictured here is a new favorite of ours), but in general, the usual summer harvest is slowly making way for the big greens and starches of fall. If summer corn means that much to you, go pick some up this weekend. Otherwise, it's time to segue our seasonal eating.

September Yummy plums from Tenerelli Orchards - all gone for the season
September Yummy plums from Tenerelli Orchards - all gone for the season
Felicia Friesema
Sunchokes at Weiser Farms
Sunchokes at Weiser Farms
Felicia Friesema

The sunchokes are in at Weiser Farms this fall. Not everyone gets giddy when they arrive - their inulin content (a naturally occurring polysaccharide) is difficult for some people to digest. But for others, the mild, slightly sweet, nutty tuber is indispensable for a superior soup. In general, treat it like you would any other mild root vegetable, though they tend to get mushy if boiled. Cut them thin and roast them into chips or steam them with a little salt. Raw and julienned, they work well in slaws and salads, adding a very satisfying water chestnut-like crunch. If it's your first time trying them, go slow. The inulin reaction some people have is directly proportionate to the amount they ingest. You'll know if it's a problem, as will everyone around you. Is it worth the trouble of finding out? Yes. They're on the market tables for a reason, and if you like artichokes, you'll likely add these to your list of favorites.

Niabells at Walker Farms - here for the next two weeks
Niabells at Walker Farms - here for the next two weeks
Felicia Friesema

Joe at Walker Farms surprised us with a few baskets of Niabell Concords this week. They have a true "old grape" flavor, musky and potent, almost earthy in their sweetness, with a much thicker slip-skin than their other concord cousins. The seeds are also bigger. You'll always find them for sale in baskets because the fruit tends to fall off their short, stocky stems. Great for juicing and as table grapes, but cold storage doesn't seem to extend their life much, so enjoy quickly. They'll be around for another couple of weeks and then the season's finished.

Shinko Asian pears - last week at Tenerelli Orchards
Shinko Asian pears - last week at Tenerelli Orchards
Felicia Friesema

Tenerelli Orchard's Asian pear selection is picking up. This week look for the round, taupe-speckled Skinko. Like most Asian pears, the Shinko is crisp, sweet, and juicy (bring a napkin), with a matte skin that aids in its long shelf life (three months or so). They have a light floral scent - almost honeysuckle-like - and have been called "the salad pear" (we used them last week in a spinach and pancetta salad - incredible). This is the last weekend you'll be able to get them from Tenerelli's trees.

Saturday markets:

Pasadena Farmers Market, Victory Park, North Sierra Madre Boulevard and Paloma Street, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Torrance Farmers Market, Wilson Park, 2200 Crenshaw Blvd., 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Old Town Calabasas Farmers Market, 23504 Calabasas Rd., 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Long Beach Saturday Market (East Village), 400 East 1st Street, on 1st Between Elm and Linden, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Santa Monica (Saturday, organic), 3rd Street at Arizona Avenue, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Felicia Friesema also writes More, please.


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