Sunday, September 23rd: Blueberry Peppers, Winter Banana Apples, Dinosaur Egg Pluots & Other Local Deliciousness With Less Unusual Names!

Happy Autumn, everyone! And as if to signal the turning of the seasons, it got cooler and grayer over the Equinox. But the sun returns today, and the seemingly endless summer of 2012 will rebound this week. Ah, El Nino. Of course, many of our farmers, not to mention fire management folk, would love to see some real liquid sunshine soon, but hey, it's been about 20 years since we last had a summer like this, so maybe we're not so anxious to let it go. Still, the fall crops are flowing in, like the plethora of peppers varieties from Alvarez Organic Farms. Did you know that they grow about 200 different varieties of them? Yep. Check out these blueberry peppers, for instance. They are sweet, not spicy, but mostly, they are really cool looking. And if any peppers remind us of their deadly nightshade ancestry, these will, eh?

As luck would have it, fall greeted me with a cold, so I will keep this week's installment on the short side. But I can't let this post get by without noting one of the most confounding apple varieties of late summer/early fall -- Winter Banana apples. What? They're an early apple, and they don't really look or taste like bananas, right? I guess when you are a fruit that comes in hundreds of varieties old and new, at some point, the names are going to start running out. Well, don't get hung up on the name, eh? Instead, swing by ACMA Mission Orchards and pick up a few of them for this week's lunch box. Cuz they're still plenty tasty!

It's a rainbow of cherry tomatoes from Oxbow Farm! Okay, they actually aren't all cherry tomatoes. There are pears, grapes and sungolds mixed in there, too. But when you put them all together, like Oxbow, we just collectively call them cherries. Think about the fun salads you can make with all that color! And they vary in flavor, sweetness and acidity, too. Try poaching them in olive oil and tossing them with some pasta, or dressing some fish. Mmm.

I think pluots have some of the most unusual names of any family of fruit, most likely because they are such a young family of fruit. But in their short existence, they have become quit prolific. Perhaps my favorite named variety of pluots is the Dinosaur Egg pluot. These sweet and juicy fruits have a lovely, speckled skin that I guess someone thought looked like a dinosaur egg. Find them today at Collins Family Orchards.

This has been an amazing year for carrots, hasn't it? And one farm famous for it's carrots is Nash's Organic Produce from Dungeness, out on the North Olympic Peninsula. They grow some of the sweetest carrots around! This collection of rainbow carrots (above) is some of their delicious handiwork. Can't you just feel them crunching between your teeth, spreading their sweetness across your tongue as you munch away on them! Ah.

Peach season rolls on, and with every week, we see new varieties of them, like these Sweet Dream peaches from Tiny’s Organic Produce. These late-season peaches are amongst the best of the year — sweeter, juicier. But peach season won't last forever. They are awesome this year, so enjoy them while you can!

No, pimentos do not grow inside Spanish olives! They are peppers — these peppers, in fact, from Lyall Farms. Gorgeous, aren’t they? Delicious, too. They are incredible fire-roasted over a hot grill, with their deep flavor and brilliant color. Show off to your guests this weekend and whip out some of these babies!

We love our bakeries, all three of them — Grateful BreadDolce Lou and Tall Grass Bakery, which makes this irresistible olive fougasse. Have you ever tried not to eat one of these in just one sitting. I tell you, it is simply not possible. Salty, chewy deliciousness at its best!

Finally, another reminder to please bring your own bags today, and every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.

There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.