Your monthly guide to shopping fresh produce at the Ferry Plaza farmers market.
Though you'll find mostly sweet cherries at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this month, they vary in everything from color to intensity in taste. Your first instinct might be to make cherry pie, but cherries also complement savory dishes such as pork and chicken when used in a sauce or reduction. Cherries have a relatively short shelf life, so store them in a Tupperware lined with a damp paper towel to help them last as long as possible. // Hamada Farms (Tuesdays, Saturdays), cuesa.org/seller/hamada-farms
There are only a few commercially grown fruits that are native to North America—blueberries are one of them, and California is the nation's sixth largest grower. Considered a superfood, blueberries are full of antioxidants and vitamin C. Triple Delight has a bounty of blueberries waiting for you. Be sure to pick the ones that are firm and plump—they'll last about a week. They also freeze well and can then be used in smoothies or in pies. // Triple Delight (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays), tripledelightberries.com
Cactus Pads, or nopales in Spanish, are delicious and nutritious: They're high in fiber, vitamins A, C, and calcium. The plant is native to Mexico, where there are over a hundred different varieties used in soups, salads, stews or eaten raw. To use them in dishes, wash the cactus pads in water and peel off any discolored or bruised areas. Slice into strips and then add to your recipe, being careful not to overcook them. You can also grill them whole and top tacos with them. // Yerena (Tuesdays and Saturdays), cuesa.org/seller/yerena-farms
The fava bean (also known as the broad been, field bean, horse bean, or pigeon bean) is really good for the environment. The plants are used as cover crops, which keep soil healthy, slow down the rate of erosion, help with irrigation, and help replenish soil nutrients. To prepare, you'll want to pull the top off along with its thread to unzip the bean pod. Next, remove the beans from the pod and blanch in boiling water for 30-45 seconds. Transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking and remove the waxy coating around the beans. They're now ready for the recipe of your choice. Fava beans go great with liver and a nice chianti, or try them tossed directly into salads or smashed and served on toast. // Knoll Farms (Saturdays), knollorganics.com