What’s in Season in S.F. NOW (Sep. 20)

September 24, 2010 § 6 Comments

Since you all seemed to like my last post on what’s in season now, here’s another for you based on my visits this week to the Alemany, Castro and Ferry Building farmers’ markets. Just like last time, you’ll find tips on how to store and eat the goods. Also, at the end, look for photos of the funkiest two things I’ve seen lately at the farmers’ market: any idea what they are??

It feels timely to write this on Sept. 23, the day of the autumn equinox, or the first official day of fall when the days start getting shorter. You can definitely see the transition between summer and fall (boxes of tomatoes, green beans, peppers and eggplants commingling with pyramids of broccoli and cauliflower, stalks of Brussels sprouts and even a few winter squash) at the city’s farmers’ markets.

Enjoy your weekend!


Heirloom tomatoes (these beauties are still around and delicious!)

  • What they are: Heirlooms are considered to be a variety that has been passed down through several family generations because of its valued characteristics. However, due to the popularity of these funky-shaped, wonderfully-hued fruit, there are also commercial heirlooms, open-pollinated varieties that have been in circulation for at least 50 years

Green zebra heirloom tomatoes, Tomatero Farm, Alemany market

Heirloom cherry tomatoes, Bautista Farm, Castro market

  • Where to buy: Alemany market: Tomatero Farm; Castro market: Happy Boy Farms, Bautista Farm; Ferry Building market: Allstar Organics, Balakian Farms, Eatwell Farm, Heirloom Organics
  • How to choose: Tell the folks at the farm stand when you plan to eat them so they can help you choose the ones that will be at their peak at that time
  • How to store: Tomatoes will continue to ripen but lose flavor if you refrigerate them. Turn them upside down and leave them on the counter, out of the sun
  • How to eat: My two favorite ways to eat heirlooms are: (1) caprese salad — slice the tomatoes thickly, top with a thick slice of fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf, then sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil; (2) tomato salad — chop tomatoes into big chunks and toss with small mozzarella balls and just a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Also, if you feel inspired to buy a 20-30 pound box of tomatoes, you can always use one of the “tomato extravaganza” recipes here

Green & yellow beans

  • What they are: Self-explanatory, but they pack a nutritional punch: they contain healthy amounts of calcium, vitamin C, beta Carotene, vitamin K and lutein

Green & yellow beans, Dirty Girl Farm, Ferry Building market

  • Where to buy: Ferry Building market: Dirty Girl Farm
  • How to choose: Look for firm beans, not droopy, browned or shriveled
  • How to store: In a plastic bag (to prevent moisture loss) in the fridge for 3-5 days
  • How to eat: When they’re super fresh, I like to rinse them under cold water, snap off the blossom ends and eat them raw as a snack. They’re also great steamed in boiling water for 3 minutes and eaten warm as a simple side dish. Finally, you can blanch them and make a salad with them; I like this recipe at 101 Cookbooks (but I leave out the cream in the dressing) – click here

Edamame (I was told these would only be around for one more week, though that may have been a ploy to get me to buy more!)

  • What they are: You’ve all seen this ubiquitous Japanese restaurant appetizer, but it’s interesting to note that technically they are immature soybeans. In fact, the Japanese name literally means “twig bean” (eda = “twig” + mame = “bean”) and refers to young soybeans cropped with its twig

Edamame, Alemany market

  • Where to buy: Alemany market
  • How to choose: If picking fresh edamame in pods, pick ones that are bright green, plump and even in size, not shriveled or discolored
  • How to store: Fresh beans: in a container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Cooked beans: once you cook them, you can lay them on a baking sheet and freeze them; once frozen, put into plastic storage bags to eat later (you can just zap them in the microwave to defrost and heat them up)
  • How to eat: Cook in a pot of salted, boiling water for 4 minutes (no longer or they’ll be mushy). Drain in a colander and run cold water over them so they don’t continue cooking. Toss with kosher salt, or my favorite, a splash of sesame oil and soy sauce to taste

Romanesco broccoli (or Roman cauliflower)

  • What they are: Romanesco broccoli was first documented in Italy in the sixteenth century. Also known as coral broccoli, Romanesco broccoli is rich in fiber, cartenoids and vitamin C

Romanesco broccoli, Dirty Girl Farm, Ferry Building market

  • Where to buy: Ferry Building market: Dirty Girl Farm
  • How to choose: Look for pale green florets that are firm, not floppy
  • How to store: Put a paper towel inside a plastic bag and place the broccoli head down on top of the paper towel (the paper towel will absorb any moisture). Store in the vegetable drawer of your fridge. Will keep for up to a week
  • How to eat: Roasted with olive oil in a 450 degree oven (I’ll post pictures and a more detailed recipe soon)


  • What they are: Eggplants historically have been associated with madness; its Italian name, melanzana, from the Latin mala insana, means “apple of madness”. Eggplants are of the nightshade family (same as tomatoes, peppers and potatoes), and are technically a berry fruit, not a vegetable. There are globe eggplants (the most common kind you’ll see); long, lavender Chinese eggplants; and gently curving, dark purple Japanese eggplants

Eggplants, Nyia Yi Farms, Castro market

  • Where to buy: Alemany market; Castro market: Nyia Yi Farms
  • How to choose: Select eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size; stems and caps should be bright green; skin of a just-picked eggplant will be shiny and its flesh will spring back when squeezed. Small to medium specimens no larger than 6 inches in diameter are better, as overlarge eggplants can be tough, spongy and bitter
  • How to store: Store in a plastic bag with a wet paper towel to provide humidity and store in a cool place (about 50 degrees is ideal). Some say not to refrigerate them, but if you don’t have a spot in your house that’s 50 degrees, I’ve put them in the fridge and they’ve been fine
  • How to eat: Ahh, so many ways! Roasted and sauteed in an Indian baingan bharta; in moussaka; sauteed with green peppers, miso and ground pork; caponata; grilled as a side dish with olive oil; tossed with bread crumbs, tomato sauce and pasta…one day I will post eggplant recipes

Brussels sprouts

  • What they are: They’re of the cabbage family and contain chemicals believed to fight cancer. Lore has it that Brussels sprouts were originally cultivated in northern Europe in the fifteenth century (hence, the name); today, almost all of the commercially grown Brussels sprouts in the U.S. are cultivated in California. The plants do best where the growing season is long and cool

Brussels sprouts, Alemany market

  • Where to buy: Alemany market
  • How to choose: Look for 1-inch sprouts; the smaller they are, the more tender. Choose bright green, compact heads with clean, white stems, as yellow leaves and tiny holes can be signs of bugs or worms
  • How to store: Keep unwashed and untrimmed in an open plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of the fridge for up to 1 week
  • How to eat: My favorite is pan-roasted with pancetta and a splash of red wine vinegar at the end (I’ll post a recipe when we next buy a batch; we’ve always eaten them up before I can take any pictures!)


And just for fun: Can you guess what these are?? Please comment below. (I’ll post answers on Monday.)

Mystery produce #1

Mystery produce #2


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§ 6 Responses to What’s in Season in S.F. NOW (Sep. 20)

  • mai truong says:

    Yay, thanks for doing another one of these posts, Stephanie! Love them. Am very very excited for brussels sprouts to be back in season they are one of my favorite veggies. 101cookbooks.com has an amazing recipe for them, in which you simply panfry them in olive oil until brown and crispy on the outside, and then sprinkle with some parmigiano reggiano. Tasty! Also, have you tried the heirloom tomatoes in panzanella salad? Best recipe (in my opinion 🙂 ) is from the barefoot contessa here. But how could you go wrong with toasted bread cubes, delicious sweet tomatoes, and some extra virgin olive oil?!

    • Mai, Thanks for the feedback; it’s always so helpful! I adore brussels sprouts too. I just found a recipe for them with an Asian flair, where you pan-roast them with Chinese bacon then add chicken stock, fish sauce, honey & pepper that I want to try. Mmm, I love panzanella, especially with home-made garlicky bread croutons, tomatoes, olive oil and a dash of this apple-balsamic vinegar we got at The Apple Farm.

  • […] here) for two correct guesses on Friday’s farmers’ market mystery produce from this post. Answers and fun facts about both […]

  • angi says:

    Oh wow, I didn’t know you can get fresh edamame at Alemany … that’s so awesome! Of course, I also only recently discovered that when in season, you can get fresh garbanzo beans also. I’m ignorant to the ways of beans.

    • Angi, Thanks for stopping by! Yes, the fresh edamame are pretty incredible. Mmm, I love fresh garbanzos too.

      Annie, Thanks for your visit and guesses! I’m posting answers and fun facts about the mystery produce later today.

  • anniespickns says:

    #1 Rambutan
    #2 Chesnut

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