Saturday, December 1, 2007
The December Harvest Calendar
It’s funny how the excitement of a December farmer’s market can match the height of the harvest in August or September. The sun shines low and pale now, and it’s gone altogether by 4:30. And the vibrant colors of late summer and early autumn have been replaced by the staid deep green of kale and collard, the quiet buff of parsnips, and the often-drab pods of fully matured shell beans.
But in spite of the change in season, farmers, chefs, and shoppers still crowd the Union Square greenmarket, stamping their feet and puffing great clouds of breath into the chilly air. There’s an atmosphere of expectation, though it’s hard to tell how much of it is the invigorating end of the heat and how much is the bracing perfume of evergreen that suddenly envelops the market.
The first time each year that I see those stacks of wreaths, coils of garland, and miniature forests of fir trees, I can't help but smile. And the amaryllis bulbs, cyclamen, and poinsettias are all out in full force now too. Plus the annual Union Square Holiday Market opened the day after Thanksgiving, and it’s been wonderful to buy a cup of hot cider from one of the apple vendors and wander to the south end of the square to browse through the stalls of ornaments, toys, and gifts.
Make the most of those apples, by the way. They’re still crisp and fragrant, but they’ll loose their fresh crunch before too long. And though the beet, cabbage, carrot, leek, onion, potato, winter squash, turnip, and pear harvests are all officially over now too, these crops are available from cold storage and are still full of flavor.
Still being harvested this December are the parsnips and shell beans, plus collard greens, kale, and other hardy greens until the first snow. Enjoy these crops while they’re fresh from the field – there won’t be any new harvests now until April.
Find a guide to New York’s holiday markets here. And, as always, the harvest calendar is available in the sidebar over there on the right all month. The information comes from the CENYC, which runs the Greenmarket & New Farmer Development Project. To locate markets near you in the US, check the Zip or City Quick Search at Local Harvest.
Happy December, happy winter, and happy holidays!