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Market Watch: Yuzu, Olive-o-Rama, Carrots and More

Welcome to our Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market update. Get shopping!

This Saturday at the market we celebrate the recent olive harvest with Olive-o-Rama. In the south driveway the “Olive Booth” will be home to a tasting of newly pressed oils, information about how oils are graded and what the best uses for the various varieties, as well as tips on growing and curing your own olives at home. Chefs David Bazirgan of Chez Papa Resto and James Stolich of CookWithJames will demonstrate olive-centric recipes in the CUESA teaching kitchen. All events are free and open to the public.

Carrots of all shapes and sizes can be found throughout the market in Fall and Winter. My favorites by far are the gorgeous red variety I picked up from Star Route Farms on Saturday. Their deep red skin is chock-full of lycopene, an important antioxidant, and their flavor is earthy and sweet. Red carrots are delicious when roasted alongside some of the other root vegetables available right now at the market and are the perfect accompaniment to a roasted chicken. I always roast extras so the leftover root vegetables can be pureed and turned into an easy weeknight soup.

The first few sprigs of wild arugula have just started to poke their heads out of the dirt in my vegetable bed. Until I have enough to harvest for myself however, I will be stocking up on this leafy green from Marin Roots Farm. Wild Arugula differs from common arugula in many ways. The leaves of the wild variety are more spindly and deeper green in color. Its flavor is peppery and nutty with far less bitterness than regular arugula. Wild arugula can be used raw in salads but is just as good lightly wilted in pasta or piled on nice grilled cheese sandwich.

The first of the early citrus is starting to trickle into the market. Last Saturday Hamada Farms had Yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit with a flavor somewhere between a lemon and a grapefruit that is the basis of Ponzu sauce. Yuzus are about the size of mandarins with a yellowish green dimpled skin. Inside the fruit is filled with large inedible seeds so they’re generally only used for their juice and zest. The yuzu’s mild sourness adds a bright addition to a marinade or salad dressing. Hamada will only have them for a few more weeks before the rest of their citrus crop starts to appear.

Farmer Bill Crepps at Everything Under the Sun grows one of my favorite varieties of bush beans-- the Jade green bean. Jades are thicker and longer than other green bean varieties and have a dark green color and sweet crisp flavor. Bill typically brings them to market much earlier in the year but told me recently that this year he didn’t get around to planting them until later in the season. He says he is finding that his mistake is a bit of a blessing in disguise. Bill’s Jade green beans started growing just as the weather on his farm in Winters was beginning to cool down and he thinks this cooler climate has helped the bean grow sweeter and crisper than in previous years.