Out in Palmer, it's all about the giant vegetables at the Alaska State Fair. At the local farmers markets, it's more about the flavor and variety than it is the size. And for variety, it's hard to beat what's available right now.
And new things keep showing up weekly.
At the Arctic Organics stand at the Anchorage Farmers Market, Sarah Bean says they will have new products including new potatoes, red onions, celery, purple and yellow cauliflower, oblong radicchio Treviso and savoy cabbage.
"There's a distinct chill in the air in the mornings now," she says. "Our coldest overnight temperature recently was 38 degrees. This is the incentive the plants need to finish up their growing cycle."
Bean says they recently started new plants including spinach, arugula, greens mix and turnips in hopes of having these at the market by the end of September.
New this week: new potatoes, red onions, celery, purple and yellow cauliflower, oblong radicchio Treviso, savoy cabbage.
Other items to look for from Arctic Organics this week include: beets, zucchini, cabbage, carrots, four types of kale, collard greens, mustard greens, mibuna, mizuna, herbs and fresh cut flowers.
In addition to its role at the Anchorage Farmers Market, the farm's own produce stand is open from 5-7 p.m. Fridays at 1305 N. Smith Road near Palmer.
Spenard Farmers Market
Customers are commenting on the opportunity to try new and unusual options at the Spenard Farmers Market.
"We have had a lot of market-goers comment in person and via email how local farmers markets have provided them the opportunity to try fresh, new and interesting vegetables including kale, Swiss chard, Romanesque broccoli, beets and even kohlrabi," says Cindy Shake, the market's community and media relations volunteer. "Customers say they learn directly from our vendors new ways to prepare vegetables and produce that they normally wouldn't have tried."
This week is Fresh Caught (and Bought) Under the Windmill week at the market, which includes a digital photo contest. The winner will receive $25 in tokens for use at the Spenard market and two additional photographers will receive a gift set from the market. Photos must be submitted to email@example.com by 5 p.m. Sept. 5.
Edible highlights that might make their way into photos this week include: fresh halibut and fresh (never frozen) Alaska king crab from Alaska Gourmet; Glacier Seafoods will have Prince William Sound spot shrimp that Shake says are "larger than average and will be perfect on skewers for a Labor Day weekend barbecue;" Fiery Arts Studio/Midnight Sun Farm will have golden Alaska honey, red raspberries, kholrabi and blue Scotch kale; Chugach Farms from Chickaloon will have purple cauliflower, broccoli, peas, pesto, herb salt, herb vinegars and kombucha; Black Bear Farms will have "huge zucchini that are the size of small babies," says Shake; Glacier Valley Farm plans to have beets, carrots and sweet salad onions; and Spring Creek Farm will have fresh fennel and summer squash.
South Anchorage Farmers Market
The regulars will be lined up in South Anchorage both Wednesday and Saturday.
Saturday vendor highlights include: Rise & Shine Bakery with signature levain whole wheat and spent grain loaves, along with fresh rosemary, Alaskan potato and chive, and fruited almond hearth loaves. Rise & Shine will take the first Saturday in September off, so stock up this weekend. The Rempel Family Farm will have loads of veggies, including bags of carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, Romanesco cauliflower, beets, zucchini, arugula, green onions, chard, tatsoi, green mustard, lettuces and plenty of new potatoes.
Other vendors include: Glacier Valley Farm, VanderWeele Farm, Mat Valley Meats, Earthworks Farm, Arctic Choice Seafoods, Stockwell Family Farm, Sweet and Sassy Kettle Corn, Alaska Sprouts, Southfork Jams and Jellies, Joan's Salmon Burgers, Nonessentials, Three Bears Jams and Jellies, Two Sisters Farm and Juice Jams and Jellies.
Local Harvest Feast
Join the Anchorage Food Mosaic for a free community-building potluck at the Alaska Botanical Garden from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. It is Anchorage's first-ever community local harvest feast.
Organizers say to bring a food dish to share with others. The event is family friendly and alcohol-free. There will be a Local Harvest Dish Competition, where attendees can submit their dish for taste-testing. The categories are: wild berries, wild game and seafood, and garden grown.
More information is available at anchoragefoodmosaic.com or the organization's Facebook page.
Recipe: Spicy Spenard Spots for the Barbie
Alaska spot shrimp are prized for their sweet delicate flavor and firm texture that make them perfect to skewer and grill on the barbecue. This recipe calls for sweet onions and peppers but you can also use other favorite grilling veggies.
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chili sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground course pepper
Salt to taste
1 sweet white onion, quartered
1 green or red pepper, quartered and cut into large chunks
1 pound uncooked large Alaska spot shrimp, peeled and deveined
- In a large resealable plastic bag, combine all ingredients (except onion, pepper and shrimp) and shake. Add shrimp, turn and coat; refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drain and discard marinade.
- On metal or soaked wooden skewers, alternate threading shrimp, onion and pepper. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until shrimp turn pink, turning once. Serve this sassy flavored shrimp over rice or a bed of seasoned, shredded cabbage.
Source: Cindy Shake of the Spenard Farmers Market
Local farmers markets
TUESDAY: EAGLE RIVER FARMERS MARKET, 3-7 P.M., VFW POST PARKING LOT
WEDNESDAY: CENTER MARKET, 10 A.M. TO 6 P.M., THE MALL AT SEARS, BENSON BOULEVARD AND DENALI STREET; NORTHWAY MALL FARMERS MARKET, 9 A.M. TO 4 P.M., NORTHWAY MALL; SOUTH ANCHORAGE FARMERS MARKET, DIMOND CENTER, 10 A.M. TO 4 P.M.; WASILLA FARMERS MARKET, 11 A.M. TO 6 P.M., BEHIND THE WASILLA PUBLIC LIBRARY
THURSDAY: PETERS CREEK FARMERS MARKET & CRAFTS, 3-7 P.M., 21643 OLD GLENN HIGHWAY
FRIDAY: MAT VALLEY MEATS, 6175 EAST PALMER WASILLA HIGHWAY, 11 A.M. TO 6 P.M.; PALMER FRIDAY FLING, 10 A.M. TO 5 P.M. AT THE PAVILION ACROSS FROM VISITOR'S CENTER; WILLOW MARKET, MILE 69 PARKS HIGHWAY, 2-7 P.M.
SATURDAY: ANCHORAGE FARMERS MARKET, 9 A.M. TO 2 P.M. AT 15TH AND CORDOVA IN THE CENTRAL LUTHERAN CHURCH PARKING LOT; ANCHORAGE MARKET AND FESTIVAL, 10 A.M. TO 6 P.M., THIRD AVENUE BETWEEN C AND E STREETS; CENTER MARKET, THE MALL AT SEARS, 10 A.M. TO 7 P.M.; SOUTH ANCHORAGE FARMERS MARKET, 9 A.M. TO 2 P.M., SUBWAY/CELLULAR ONE SPORTS CENTER AT THE CORNER OF OLD SEWARD HIGHWAY AND O'MALLEY ROAD; SPENARD FARMERS MARKET, 9 A.M. TO 2 P.M., SPENARD ROAD AND 26TH AVENUE
SUNDAY: ANCHORAGE MARKET AND FESTIVAL, 10 A.M. TO 6 P.M., THIRD AVENUE BETWEEN C AND E STREETS
By STEVE EDWARDS
Daily News correspondent