Market Fresh: First frosts signal change in crops at Alaska farmers markets

Steve Edwards
Tammy Ljungblad

Here's a bit of advice: Get to a farmers market ... soon!

"There was a distinct crispiness on the leaves in the field this morning," says Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the Anchorage Farmers Market. "I believe we've had our first light frost. No lasting damage was done, but it does hail the inevitable: autumn is upon us!

"It's definitely time to get your salad fix before it's too late, along with other late summer offerings such as mache, celery, onions, fennel, while they last."

Says Alex Davis of A.D. Farm and the Center Market: "We are still going strong at the market. This time of year the heat crops have spent their energy allotment for the season ... but others are picking up steam."

And as we switch seasons, check out the two soup recipes below.

Anchorage Farmers Market

Arctic Organics expects to have some new items at the market, including leeks, winter storage cabbage, which Bean says are best for sauerkraut. The will also have new yellow Finn and huckleberry potatoes.

Returning items include several other potato varieties, purple top and snow apple turnips, rutabagas, daikon, fennel bulbs, celery, red onions, tomatoes, red cabbage, pac choi, carrots, beets, zucchini, broccoli, kohlrabi, mache, rainbow chard, beet greens, collards, spinach, greens mix, kale, herbs and cut flowers.

Center Market

Davis expects to have plenty of veggies, along with eggs and pork products at the Mall at Sears both Wednesday and Saturday. (Don't forget, the Center Market is indoors so weather doesn't matter.)

Among Davis' vegetable offerings are carrots in three colors, Brussels sprouts, red and green cabbage, three varieties of beets, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, kohlrabi and a large number of potatoes.

Duane Clark from Country Health Foods says "honey is in good supply, many sizes to choose from." He also expects to have assorted greens, local free-range chicken and ducks, grass-fed beef, jams and relishes.

South Anchorage Farmers Market

Here are a couple highlights from the always-bustling market:

Two Sisters' Greenhouse will have Yukon gold, magic Myrna and red chieftain potatoes, along with the bags of multicolored baby potatoes. They also will have organically grown vine ripened heirloom tomatoes and heirloom savory cherry tomatoes, along with cucumbers, rhubarb, basil, parsley and tarragon. There will be a variety of pickled products, including pickled beets and pickled carrots and some extra zesty pickles or crunchy dilly carrots.

Rise & Shine Bakery will be bringing three pan loaves this week: flax seed, levain and spent grain, along with two hearth loaves -- fresh rosemary and fruited almond.

Rempel Family Farm will have loads of fresh veggies. Some options include: nine varieties of potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, sugar pumpkins, broccoli, cauliflower, Romanesco cauliflower, beets, arugula, cress, kales, cabbage and lettuces. (The Rempels are also at the Northway Mall Wednesday Market.)

Spenard Farmers Market

It's Cauliflower Appreciation Day at the market on Saturday.

"When people hear cauliflower, many think to only serve it smothered in cheese sauce -- but no more," says Cindy Shake, the market's community and media relations volunteer. "From souffles to faux "oat" meal, we will have free cauliflower based recipe cards on Saturday!

"Chefs, bloggers and those looking for new ways to eat healthy are finding the cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower, is not only versatile but also savory. Available in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, cauliflower is sneaking into dishes from appetizers to desserts. No longer limited to being bathed in cheese sauce, locavores are exploring new ways of preparing cauliflower that will transform and enhance its natural flavors, like high heat roasting for a savory soup." (Check out the recipe below.)

Several vendors will be highlighting cauliflower in its many varieties this week.

Other vendor highlights include: P&M Garden Services will have vine ripened tomatoes, fresh herbs and jasmine house plants; Chugach Farm will have leeks, sweet celery, beet greens, pestos, rosehip kombucha, seasonal cranberry rose and a special lemonbalm vinegar; Black Bear Farm will have zucchini, kale and collard greens; Glacier Valley Farm will have beets, sweet salad onions, Yukon gold and purple potatoes; Wildrose Natural Harvest will have a batch of raspberry jalapeno vinaigrette along with blueberry bread, hand-milled apricot cornbread, lavender plants and a new honey infused soap; and Ba-Lescas Brothers will have salad greens, tofu, beans, lettuce, white sweet chard and a sweet garlic.

Taste of Homer

The first-ever Taste of Homer is 4-10 p.m. Saturday at Wasabi's Restaurant. It will feature food and beverages from some of Homer's best restaurants along with live music and auctions to benefit the Homer Farmers Market.

Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. They are available at the Homer Bookstore, Homer Chamber of Commerce, Homer Farmers Market, Land's End and Wasabi's; tickets can also be purchased online at

Among the participating restaurants are: Vida's Thai Food, KBay Roasting Co., Homer Brewing Co., Vagabond Cafe, The Homestead Restaurant, Two Sister's Bakery, Bear Creek Winery and many more.

Recipe: Superstar roasted cauliflower soup with bacon and thyme

 Two regular heads cauliflower or 1 Alaska-size (about 41/2 pounds total)

 1/4 cup olive oil

 Sea salt to taste

 1 quart chicken broth, divided

 1 pint half-and-half

 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus 8 sprigs to garnish

 2 cloves minced garlic or more to taste

 Pinch of white pepper

 10 slices smoked bacon (or 3 slices country ham), minced and cooked

w Heat the oven to 400 F. Line baking sheet with foil.

w Use a paring knife to carefully cut out and discard the core of each head of cauliflower, then cut the heads into large florets. Place the florets in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons of salt, tossing to coat.

w Arrange the florets in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, then use tongs to flip the florets, then roast for another 30 minutes, or until the florets are deeply caramelized and golden.

w Transfer the florets to a blender and add 2 cups of the broth. Puree, then add the half-and-half and puree for another 3 minutes, or until completely smooth. The puree should be very thick. With the blender running, add the remaining broth, garlic, parsley, thyme and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

w The soup can be transferred to a saucepan and gently heated, or refrigerated overnight before reheating and serving. The flavor is best when it is allowed to rest overnight.

w When ready to serve, garnish each bowl with a bit of cooked bacon and a sprig of fresh thyme.

Source: Cindy Shake, Spenard Farmers Market

Recipe: Broccoli, bean soup

 1 cup chopped onions

 1 tablespoon olive oil

 2 cups vegetable broth

 4 cups chopped broccoli florets

 1 cup cooked white beans

 1 bay leaf

 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

 Broccoli flower buds for garnish

w In a soup kettle, saute the onions in the olive oil until tender. Add the broth, broccoli, beans, bay leaf, and allspice.

w Reduce the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Cool slightly, and remove the bay leaf. Purée the soup and serve garnished with broccoli florets.

Serves 4.

Source: Sarah Bean, Arctic Organics


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.; 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; 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


Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. If you have a suggestion for a future Market Fresh column, please contact him at


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