Farmers markets: Last dash to the finish

The Fresno BeeSeptember 9, 2013 

Sheri Cooley, right, works the booth for Mao Farms at the Clovis Farmer's Market where fresh produce is still in abundance Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 in Clovis, Calif.

GARY KAZANJIAN — Fresno Bee Staff Photo Buy Photo

With fall just a couple weeks away, it might seem like farmers market season has come to an end.

Not so.

This is actually one of the best times to find a variety of delicious produce. Several of the Valley's seasonal farmers markets, including Clovis, The Market on Kern and River Park, are near the end of their seasons. Since most close at the end of October, it still gives consumers plenty of time to shop.

Stroll through your favorite farmers markets and you will see plenty of juicy late-season peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots. Many farmers say tree fruit will stick around for a few more weeks, but their days are waning.

Blossom Bluff Orchards has the big and fuzzy Fairtime peach. The yellow flesh peach is full of flavor.

Mike and Sandie Smith, who sell at the Kaiser Permanente Fresno farmers market held from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at 7300 N. Fresno St., have several tree fruit varieties including a late season nectarine called Autumn Kiss, a favorite of Otis Davis of Fresno.

Davis was carefully selecting just the right ones to eat. He gave it a little squeeze to make sure it was ripe and ready.

"When the juice of that piece of fruit hits my mouth, I know I picked the right one," Davis says.

Also, the Valley's numerous grape varieties — red, green and black — are at their peak.

At Wednesday mornings' market on Kern Street in downtown Fresno, the plump, dark and full-flavored Fantasy seedless grapes were in good supply.

Rebecca Torosian of Tory Farms sells the Fantasy, along with the hearty and aromatic Muscat seeded grape that is expected to be ready in the coming weeks. Perhaps sooner will be the Italia, a Muscat-like grape with no seeds.

"These are both grapes with great flavor," Torosian says

For those looking for something sweet and crunchy, wait no more. The season's first crisp Fuji apples and Asian pears are expected to be arriving at farmers markets and fruit stands.

Vince Iwo of Vince's Natural Ranches sells apples along with other tree fruit at the Vineyard Farmers Market on Blackstone and Shaw avenues. The market is open on Saturday mornings, 7 a.m. to noon, and on Wednesdays, 3-6 p.m.

Along with Fuji apples Iwo grows the Pink Lady apple and Jonathan apple, a sweet piece of fruit with a slight tart taste.

Tania Ferrer of Ferrer Farms, regulars at the Clovis Farmers Market on Friday nights in Old Town Clovis, also will soon feature Asian pears, Fuji apples and pomegranates.

And vegetables including bell peppers, eggplant and okra are still available.

At the Kaiser market, you can find heirloom tomatoes, okra, eggplant, Thai chili and jujubes, a golf ball-sized crunchy piece of fruit.

The Smiths also have begun bringing hard squash, including acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash. KMK Farms, who sells at the Vineyard, also has several hard squash, including the delicata, a oblong, yellow-skinned squash.


Nectarine shortbread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 pitted nectarines thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13-by-9 baking dish with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl add all of the ingredients, except for the two nectarines. Mix well and pour out 3/4 of the mixture into the dish. Spread and press out into each corner of the dish; lay the thin slices of the two nectarines slightly overlapping each other. Crumble the remaining dry mixture over the tops of the nectarines. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool and cut serve with and scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Stuffed eggplant

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs

2 eggplants

2 tomatoes

1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup onion, diced

1/3 cup celery, diced

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

2 tablespoons, fat free Parmesan cheese

Vegetable cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut eggplants in half, lengthwise. Scoop out and save flesh, leaving the shells 3/8 inch thick. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Chop up reserved eggplant and add to skillet with tomato, bell pepper, onion and celery. Cover and cook on medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

Stir in bread crumbs and parsley. Spoon mixture into eggplant shells. Arrange stuffed shells in a shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle Parmesan on top of each shell. Bake for 25 minutes, until filling heats through and top is golden brown.

Asian pear salad

1 head of bib (butter) lettuce

1 Asian pear halved and cut in thin slices

Blue cheese, crumbled

Cashew halves

Poppy seed vinaigrette (below)

For the poppy seed vinaigrette:

1 cup canola oil

1/3 cup raspberry vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon poppy seed

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

To make the vinaigrette: Blend in mixer or with immersion blender until slightly emulsified. Chill.

This can be done as a lightly tossed salad or using each leaf as an individual salad with pear slices fanned out, topped with blue cheese and cashews.

Drizzle dressing over each (to taste).


The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6327, or @FresnoBeeBob on Twitter. — Susan Valiant, Mabel's Kitchen — Kaiser Permanente — Donna Mott, Ooh De Lolli

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