We got a little taste of fall this past weekend with cooler temperatures after torrential downpours, and I don't know about you, but it had me longing for the fall season to arrive quickly. It's time to say goodbye to the horribly hot weather and hello to cool breezy days.
But let's be real, the best part of the autumn season isn't just the cooler temperatures outside, it's the produce.
We spoke with Urban Harvest Market Manager Tyler Horne about the fruits, vegetables and herbs coming soon to grocery stores and farmers markets, and we also got the scoop on which new vendors will be setting up shop at Urban Harvest this season.
As far as fruits go, Horne says pears, persimmons and pomegranates will be in abundance in the coming weeks. Meyer lemons and grapefruit will be available closer to November. Citrus fruits appear close to the end of the year, so make sure you get your fruit tree when Urban Harvest begins those sales.
Swap out your summer squash for more winter varietals.
"On the tale end of summer, [we are] transitioning into winter squash," Horne says. "Butternut; we also have spaghetti squash [and] lakota squash. Cushab is another one of those huge ones. That's a popular one that a chef could buy and feed a family of like 12. It's one squash and enormous! People seem to be big on those. Acorn squash, that's another hallmark of what we would consider a winter squash. Kalabasa, that's another one."
Basically with any squash, you can cut it into chunks or slices, place on a baking sheet, season with olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast for an hour and enjoy. Pumpkins and gourds will join the winter squash and start showing up at the farmers markets during Halloween time.
Horne explains that field peas are available during the fall, but not many people know what to do with them. You might have seen them on menus in restaurants as chefs are incorporating them into a variety of dishes. Urban Harvest is trying to educate people on how to cook with the product.
"You see these bags of fresh peas and they're kind of intimidating," he says. "Normally you cook them fairly quickly after you buy them, when they are fresher. I think that's something that more and more chefs are experimenting with. You'll see on menus as time goes on, anything from cooked with just bacon, which is the traditional [way] -- onions, bacon, garlic, boil them, that sort of thing. But you can also pickle them -- that's what some of the restaurants have started doing. You can blanch them really quick and just toss them into a salad."
Basil is an herb you can continue to grow in the colder months, and ginger is essentially a year-round product, too.
As we approach November and December, expect to see broccoli and cauliflower at the markets. Horne says one of the vendors at the farmers market has three or four different colors of cauliflower, such as purple, green and yellow.
Urban Harvest will welcome back Knopp Branch Farms to the market in the middle of September after the major produce provider took a break during the summer months.
"We've got some really cool stuff coming into the fall," Horne says. "It's one of those times of year that I think everyone really looks forward to...We also have some really awesome new vendors that have come in the past couple of weeks, so going into the fall we are going to have a dynamite group."
Head to the next page for information on a few new vendors coming to Urban Harvest.
One of the newest additions to Urban Harvest is MALK, a local Texas pecan and almond milk producer that pasteurizes its products with cold high-pressure processing rather than with heat.
"It's all made fresh, it's not pasteurized [through heat] and it's just phenomenal," Horne says. "Especially the pecan milk... I personally like them both, but I like the pecan milk a lot more. It's a little sweeter than almond milk. Almond milk, you almost can't taste the almonds necessarily, it doesn't have a super almondy flavor, like the non-sweetened version. The pecan milk has this very pecan taste -- that's the easiest way to describe it, but it almost feels like you're drinking pecan flavors. It tastes a lot more nutty than almond milk does; if you like pecans then you will definitely like this."
Moravia Winery from Schulenberg will be the first winery to sell products at the Urban Harvest market this year. One of the featured wines is the Blanc Du Bois, which Horne describes as being similar to a Sauvignon Blanc as it is dry and crisp.
Underbelly began selling products a couple of weeks ago and the restaurant from chef Chris Shepherd will remain at the market selling everything from vinegar pies to "Bloody Mary Fixins'," which are pickled items, such as okra. The lard biscuits have become another popular item among customers.
Ripe Cuisine Food Truck will debut at the market. Horne says he loves seeing vendors go from selling in a tent to a food truck then to opening a brick-and-mortar. He is excited to see Stephanie Hoban, who started in a tent at the market, now offer her vegan cuisine from her food truck because she is "what Urban Harvest is all about with getting people to eat more vegetables."
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Urban Harvest also welcomes Brazos Valley Cheese Company which sells aged cow milk cheeses from grass-fed cows.
"They are from Waco. They've got a brie, they've got a cheddar, they've got a sorghum cheese that is really good," Horne says. "I don't know what style you would call it, but it's like a hard aged cheese that's rubbed with sorghum and cinnamon, like the rind is rubbed with that. I think it's my favorite one that they've got out of all their cheeses."
Java Pura Coffee Roasters is a local company that ages the green coffee before roasting it in wine barrels. Java Pura will only sell coffee beans, but they will have samples of some coffees, just not full cups to purchase.
Stop by the Urban Harvest Farmers Market at Eastside on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until noon and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. (last market for Sundays will be September 14). The City Hall Farmers Market reopens Wednesday, September 17.