What’s fresh at farmers’ markets

On the first day of summer, our weekly tailgate update predicted it would be a season of seafood — and we were right. Lines at local seafood vendors were long then, and they’re long today, often forming as soon as markets open. Atlantic shrimp is a big hit. You can stock up now on the coastal crustaceans at several tailgates markets from Asheville to Flat Rock and beyond. Just remember to get there early!

We also predicted marvelous melons. Last month, Christina Carter of Ten Mile Farm shared with us that this season’s cantaloupes are some of the most mouthwatering she’s grown, owing to the summer’s consistently hot weather. If you’re on the hunt for a local watermelon this week, bring a friend to lend a hand — some can weigh upwards of twenty pounds at this point in the season!

Although they’re nowhere near that size, hot peppers such as habañero, cayenne, serrano, and jalapeño are packing a big punch at markets now. You can even find rare red jalapeños, which are a tad sweeter than their green counterparts. Serious about Scovilles (units of measurement for spice/heat)? While the above-mentioned peppers are relatively high on the Scoville Scale, they don’t compare to what’s called the ghost pepper, or ghost chili, thought to be the hottest in the world. Rumor has it you may be able to find one at an Asheville-area market in the coming weeks — we’ll keep you updated.

Even though school’s back in session, you don’t have to completely let go of the summer state of mind. Pretend you’re strolling a Mediterranean market this week while shopping for grapes and figs, newcomers to tailgates. Both fruits will stick around for several more weeks.

These figs were spotted at Asheville City Market South last Wednesday.

One market element that won’t stick around? The Kids Corner Market (KCM) at the Asheville City Market downtown. There are only two Saturdays left in the series. On August 21, Kids in Parks will lead market scavenger hunts. On August 28, the YWCA will offer up a “Food Fun Mania” program. Both dates are also the final two Saturdays of ASAP and Asheville City Market’s “$5 Free” EBT promotion. The first 50 market shoppers each Saturday to use their EBT/SNAP card for purchases will receive a free $5 market token.

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