Sunday, August 11th: A Little Rain Makes For Happy Farmers & Even More Local Deliciousness!

Wild Black Elderberries from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons. For a couple of weeks each summer, Foraged & Found Edibles is able to harvest these wild black elderberries. They had some to offer last Sunday, and hopefully, they will have more today. Native to Eastern Washington, they can be made into wine, jellies, sauces. syrups, baked goods and more. They are loaded with vitamin C, are coated with a natural, wild yeast that makes them ideal for making wine and as a bread starter, and they are believed to have many medicinal qualities as well.

Saffron corms from Phocas Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

These are saffron corms from Phocas Farms. They are the bulb from which the saffron crocus grows. And when these crocus bloom, it is the bright red stigma that becomes the spice we all know as saffron. Surprisingly, saffron crocus grows well around here. Equally surprising is that August is a great time of year to plant their corms, because they spring to life and bloom in early fall when most other plants are going into hibernation. So, while it is next to impossible for you to get your hands on the dried saffron spice that Phocas Farms produces, because it is all pre-sold to local chefs, you can get some of their corms and try growing it yourself!

Sharon (left) & Gary McCool of Rosecrest Farm chatting with our own Gil Youenes in their on-farm shop. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

When we visited Rosecrest Farm in Chehalis, we learned some naturally cool things about how they make their amazing Swiss cheeses. The photo above was taken in their on-farm store, and that big, white door between Sharon and Gary McCool is the door to their aging room. That door is something like 16″ thick. Seriously. See, the room was originally built decades ago for aging beef, and it was designed to maintain a constant temperature without refrigeration. Amazing! And perfect for aging cheese, as it holds at 50 degrees or so year-round. That’s pretty cool, figuratively and literally.

Fennel bulb from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Check out these ginormous fennel bulbs from Alm Hill Gardens (a.k.a., Growing Washington). Fennel bulb is wonderful stuff. I add it raw to salads, grill it, cook it down into a nice, caramelized accent to pork, pickle it… the sky’s the limit. It has a mild licorice flavor and is slightly sweet. And it is great this time of year. Just be sure to clean it thoroughly, as bits of dirt get down inside it.

A smoked whole side of king salmon from Wilson Fish. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wilson Fish is catching some of the largest wild king salmon of the season right now off the coast of Washington. And because these fish are getting ready to swim up Northwest rivers, like the Hoh and Frasier, to spawn until they die, they are loaded up with delicious fat. And that makes for incredible smoked king salmon. This is as moist and divine as any smoked salmon you will ever taste. But because they smoke it up fresh every week, they also sell out every week, so get here early!

Red pearl onions from Boistfort Valley Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I heart pearl onions from Boistfort Valley Farm. These tiny little alliums are only available fresh for a few weeks each summer -- a very common theme in today's post, eh? They may be available dried in the fall, but I like them best sautéed fresh with hericot vert beans (find them now from Growing Things Farm or Stoney Plains Organic Farm), and both are only available fresh this time of year. Peel the outer skin off of the pearl onions, and trim off the top and the root hairs, but keep the onions whole for cooking. I like to toss them with a good bacon -- try the jowl bacon from Olsen Farms, which has a nice smoky sweetness to it. As the bacon browns, its fat renders out and caramelizes the onions beautifully. When the onions start to become translucent, and the bacon is mostly rendered out and beginning to brown, toss in the beans and sauté them all together until the beans are heated through but still have a nice crunch to them, which just takes a few minutes. Enjoy!

Shamrock apples from Tiny's Organic Produce. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This time of year, as the early apples come into season, it is not uncommon to see different varieties of apples come and go every week. Between the different growing seasons throughout Washington and the hundreds of different varieties of apples grown here, apples are seemingly always coming into or going out of season. On the one hand, that means you need to pay attention, so that you can enjoy your favorites while they are in season. On the other hand, if you are more adventurous, you can experiment with new kinds of apples all the time! Like these Shamrock apples from Tiny's Organic Produce, which are in season right now... for a little while, anyway.

Japanese Black Truffle tomatoes from One Leaf Farm. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This week's gorgeous tomato of the week from our friends at One Leaf Farm is the Japanese Black Truffle tomato. This heirloom tomato traces its origins to Russian, where it is prized and fetches a high price. Its flesh is very dark, ergo its name. (Though you might ask, "then why is it called 'Japanese' if it's from Russian?" Don't have a good answer for you.) It is pear shaped, and it has a deep, rich flavor. It is just one of eight tomato varieties currently being harvested by One Leaf! (See a photo album of all their tomatoes on our Facebook page.)

Tomatillos from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2013 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Tomatillos! Hmm. Can you say salsa? Alvarez Organic Farms has everything -- and I do mean everything -- you will need for amazing salsas right now, from these tomatillos to tomatoes to garlic to onions to chile peppers to cucumbers! Heck, you can even toss in some of their watermelon!

Early Italian prunes from Magana Farms. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Italian prunes have early and late varieties, meaning we see some in August, and then some more in October. And lucky us, as they are one of the finest stone fruits around! But don't get hung up in the name "prune" like Californians did. They actually rebranded them as "plums" because they were worried that Americans associated the word "prune" with constipated old people. Europeans do not have this uptightness, and the Italians celebrate their beloved prunes. And while they will keep you regular, please do not be afraid to eat these delicious jewels because of their name. Eat them fresh, dried, in jams, jellies, sauces, chutneys, syrups, pies, tarts and more. Find them today from Magaña Farms.

Raspberry jam with thyme from Deluxe Foods. Photo copyright 2012 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of folks who can appreciate a fine prune, Deluxe Foods is back today with their wonderful lineup of jams, jellies, chutneys and sauces, though it is a little early yet for their prune varieties. See, they make their products with fresh, local, seasonal ingredients using heirloom recipes, and they sell them until, well, they run out. That means we'll see prune flavors in a month or two, just in time for hearty fall dishes. For now, you can enjoy their berry flavors on your toast, like this Raspberry Jam with Thyme.

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.

Please remember bring your own bags 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.