Everyone knows the end of summer is upon us. By the look of things, we may already be halfway through autumn in Alaska.
Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics puts it this way: “A dusting of snow on Pioneer Peak, and a speckling of yellow leaves on the birch trees surrounding our field is the nudge we need to think big about the potato and carrot harvest. No sign of frost yet, but believe me we are watching for any sign!”
Arctic Organics will have plenty of potatoes at the Anchorage Farmers Market on Saturday. Varieties include purple, yellow Finn, Yukon gold, cherry red, red French fingerling, mini max and others. Prices are $2.29 per pound, 5 pounds for $10 and 10 pounds for $18. Customers can pack their own bags with any variety and get the bulk discount if purchasing 5 pounds or more.
Other produce includes beets with greens, carrots, red onions, fennel, celery, snow apple turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, zucchini, daikon, rainbow chard, collards, four varieties of kale, spinach, mustard greens, lettuces and herbs. Arctic Organics also offers its produce at the farm, near Palmer on Smith Road. The farm stand is open 5-7 p.m. Fridays.
Other vendors at the market include Seldovitsch Family Farm, Persistent Farmer, Matanuska Creamery, Bushes Bunches, Hett Farm, 3 Bears Farm, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, TuscAlaska, Turkey Red Cafe and VanderWeele Farms.
Nancy Lampman from the South Anchorage Farmers Market says that the fall chill means it’s time to plan for winter: “The stands are bursting with fresh, delicious veggies. So get those freezer bags and canning jars ready.”
Vendors at Saturday’s market include Glacier Valley Farm with zucchini, onions, tomatoes, English cucumbers, rutabagas and strawberries. Arthur Keyes says zucchini season is certainly nearing its end: “In the field, the zucchini has begun to show its age; from here on out, we can expect a frost any day. The zucchini will go from nice green plants to dead black plants overnight when the first frost comes soon.”
Other vendors include VanderWeele farms with a wide variety of lettuces and greens, carrots and four varieties of cauliflower; Rempel Family Farm with parsnips, sugar pumpkins, celery, green beans, sugar snap peas, carrots, cabbage, three varieties of beets, five varieties of potatoes, collards and herbs; Vern Stockwell will have lots of veggies plus local pork, elk and beef products, including pork chops, sausage and other items; Southfork will have zucchini relish, heirloom tomatoes and a variety of jams and jellies, specifically those featuring “fall fruits, including raspberry pear and cranberry marmalade,” according to Joan Domnick; Wolverine Farms will have peas; Lewis Farm will have potatoes, tomatoes, Japanese eggplant and blueberry baked goods; Arctic Choice will have salmon, halibut, rockfish, oysters and king crab; and Rise & Shine Bakery will have kalamata olive, Alaska potato and chive, sourdough levain, spent grain and fruited almond loaves.
About Rise & Shine’s fruited almond, Lampman says: “Dan and Alison can’t seem to make enough of those flavorful and nutritious little loaves, even though they fill their oven and mixer with 100 loaves every time they bake it. Stop by early if you need to stock up. Packed with dried apricots, cranberries, and golden raisins, studded with toasted almonds and flavored with almond extract, they are a treat for any time of the day.”
Chef Clayton Jones will be making his final appearance at the market Saturday and revisiting some of the favorite recipes from other market days, including the sweet pea chowder and the vegan lentil stew. Free samples will be available, along with some recipes. “I will also be working with root vegetables and simple pickling techniques to show folks ways to enjoy farmer’s market foods during the cold dark months just around the corner,” he says.
At the Center Market, Alex Davis will have cabbages; a variety of beets; at least four varieties of potatoes; fava, green, wax and purple beans; three varieties of lettuce; purple, white and orange carrots; and Brussels sprouts. Duane Clark will have fresh shelled peas, locally-harvested apples, Alaska grass-fed beef and Alaska seafood.
The Spenard Farmers Market will feature a number of vendors, including Bonnie Scherer with fresh harvested wild blueberries, low-bush cranberries and her hand-crafted rhubarb steak sauce; Ed Zedzdryn of Midnight Sun Farm will have apples, along with beets, sweat peas, gourmet lettuce mix, kohlrabi and freshly harvested golden raspberries; Dinkel’s Veggies will have cauliflower, onions, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and lettuce; and Sexton Farm will have carrot cinnamon jelly and radishes, lettuce and kohlrabi.
This is the final weekend for the Anchorage Market and Festival in downtown Anchorage. While it signals that tourism season is winding down, it’s also one less place to get Alaska produce.
From the sea
John Jackson from New Sagaya Markets says the changing season affects the seafood too.
“I saw snow on the mountains on the way back from Kenai yesterday; as far as Alaskan fresh seafood goes, the end is in sight with halibut ending in November and troll kings later on in October,” he says. “Silvers have tightened up a little and they are pretty much the only game in town right now.”
New Sagaya will have headed and gutted whole silver salmon for $5.99 per pound. Cod is popular and Jackson says it’s “one of the best deals in Alaska white fish.”
The fall jig and pot fishery for Alaska cod in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod fisheries opened last week. According to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the harvest limit is nearly 30 percent higher than 2010.
Peppered pork tenderloin with roasted fennel
With local pork and fennel available from Alaska farmers, why not give this recipe a try?
2 fennel bulbs
3 large Portobello mushroom caps
2 pounds pork tenderloin
¼ cup olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup dry sherry
1 cup whipping cream
Preheat oven to 425 F. Trim base from fennel bulbs; cut bulbs into sixths, discarding fronds. Cut mushroom caps into fourths. Set aside.
Brown tenderloins in 2 tablespoons hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 4 minutes on each side. Place pork in a shallow roasting pan; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon pepper and ½ teaspoon salt. Arrange fennel and mushrooms around tenderloins; drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
Bake at 425 F for 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 155 F. Transfer tenderloins to a serving platter; let stand, covered, 5 minutes or under thermometer registers 160 F.
Place roasting pan over 2 burners of cooktop; add sherry, stirring with a whisk to loosen any browned bits from bottom of pan. Whisk in whipping cream and remaining 1 tablespoon pepper; bring to a boil. Cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve over sliced tenderloin and vegetables.
Source: “Farmers Market Cookbook: A Fresh Look at Local Flavor” by Southern Living ($29.95, Oxmoor House)
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. If you have a suggestion for a future Market Fresh column, please contact him at email@example.com.