What's in Season at the Farmers Market: Tsugaru Apples and Transcendent Crabapples

Transcendent crabapples from Windrose Farm at the Hollywood market

Felicia FriesemaTranscendent crabapples from Windrose Farm at the Hollywood market

All this wretched heat is one long stretch of disappointment for the autumnally inclined among us. Take comfort in the last of the summer bests. The Trazee peaches at Peacock Family Farms are extraordinary and will only be around another week or so, and a few fall favorites have made debuts: Laura Ramirez at J.J.'s Lone Daughter Ranch has a honey sweet early pink pomegranate and fat, tart Australian finger limes.

Then there are the apples, which are leading the transition. Although the Gravenstein has already mostly come and gone, you may still find a few at Yingst Ranch's booth. Early season Granny Smiths popped up at Murray Family Farms just in time for Rosh Hashana. And keep your eyes open for a few here-and-gone heirlooms. The small Tsugaru apple from Ha's Apple Farm will be here for just one week. The even smaller, buy-it-just-for-the-name Transcendent Crab, a crabapple from Windrose Farm, is in for a few weeks longer.

Crabapples are the sour cherries of fall, and probably prompt more stories about what various grandmothers did with them than either canning or homemade pie. This is a cooking apple, one that's rediscovering its place in the early fall kitchen. It's prime use is for a glorious jelly -- but adding a few to apple sauce or pie or even duck can add terrific bright notes to the dish.

The Transcendent Crab is an heirloom -- probably related to other Siberian crabs -- that is self-fertile and very prolific. The fruit ranges from large cherry size to golf ball size, and is covered with a thin golden skin blushed red as a good sunset. The flavor is tart, but lacks some of the bitter edge and astringency that some crabapples are known for.

Tsugaru apples from Ha's Apple Farm at the Hollywood market

Felicia FriesemaTsugaru apples from Ha's Apple Farm at the Hollywood market

The Tsugaru apple -- a Japanese variety from the 1970s-- has a two-week season, with this week being its last. It's a small apple that fits easily in the palm of your hand, with green skin striped dramatically with a bold burgundy red. It's the polar opposite of the crabapple, super sweet with little-to-no acidity, almost caramel-like, and best when eaten fresh. It's crisper than its parent, Golden Delicious, and has a short shelf life thanks to all that sugar. Perfect for small, fruit-fickle hands and adults who just want a crispy, sweet apple to munch.

Find your local market on our newly-updated farmers market list.

Granny Smiths from Murray Family Farms at the Hollywood market

Felicia FriesemaGranny Smiths from Murray Family Farms at the Hollywood market

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