Time to get Tubular at the Farmers’ Market
The Orinda Farmers’ Market makes its way into its second season operating on a year-round schedule. Thank you to the community for your support.
The holiday season is a time to celebrate, and food tends to be an important part of our traditions. Citrus, winter squash, broccoli, cauliflower, nuts, fennel, root vegetables and, of course, potatoes are now available at the market which provides fresh produce picks.
Root vegetables and tubers – is there a difference? The two are almost interchangeable in soups, both are wonderful roasted, they’re very tasty sauteed or pureed. But there is a difference.
Tubers, like potatoes, form at the base of the root. Greens are above ground and tubers are below ground, growing on a system of hairy-like roots. Several tubers grow from one plant.
Root crops produce one root from each plant, like carrots and beets. The root grows downward, absorbing the moisture and nutrients needed from the soil.
Red and white potatoes and sweet potatoes are favorites for baking, mashing or making into soups and salads. I can’t resist any creamy “fresh” potato, which is simply the first harvest of any variety coming directly from the field instead of being stored. Since sweet potatoes contain much more Vitamin A than regular potatoes, I toss those in my basket too.
All potatoes fall into two basic groups – thick or thin skin. Russets are the brown, thick-skinned types. Their high starch content and dry mealy texture make them the choice for fluffy baked potatoes and crisp fries.
Thin-skinned potatoes offer a much wider selection of color, shape and size. In addition to the common round reds, long whites and round whites, vendors at farmers’ markets always give us the opportunity to explore more of this South American native.
Peruvian Purples, Red Rose, Oregon Blues, Yukon Gold and Yellow Finns are flavor noteworthy but do not store as well due to their high moisture content. Fingerling potatoes, such as Russian Banana and Rose Finn Apple are elongated and finger-shaped with an outstanding firm, waxy texture.
Sweet potatoes are a root vegetable and a member of the morning glory family. Dry varieties, like the tan-skinned Jersey sweet potato, benefit from a little butter after baking. These make excellent chips and hash browns and provide a good substitute for standard potatoes.
Moist types of sweet potatoes are referred to as yams (true yams are indigenous to Asia and really not related to sweet potatoes). The deep orange flesh and dark orange-to-red purple skin varieties far outsell the dry types of sweet potatoes, with most of their starches converting to sugar during cooking – hence delicious sweet potatoes!
The Orinda market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Orinda Way in Orinda Village. More information is available at www.cccfm.org,
facebook.com/OrindaFarmersMarket and Instagram at OrindaFarmersMarket or call the market hotline at 925.431.8361.