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 And the vibrant colors of late summer and early autumn have been replaced by the staid deep green of kale and collard, the quiet buff of parsnips, and the often-drab pods of fully matured shell beans.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!


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Our Farmers Market is looking mighty slim these days. We now have mostly holiday crafts booths, some folks selling roping and garlands, a few potatoes and greens - I'm not even seeing many carrots. We also have a couple of farmers selling meat, and we have three unique bakers who work pretty much year round at our farmer's market - one is a woman who sells pies, especially African American faves like sweet potato pies, a second is a Turkish woman who sells traditional American baked goods, along with some wonderful Turkish specialties and an artisan bread baker. Just thought you might like a glimpse into our Ann Arbor market. ;-)

Joan said...

Amanda, I'm so glad you're back! Such a beautiful round up this month. It's my favorite time of year.

Maryann said...

Nice shot of the carrots! One is wrapping around the other. That is so cool :)

Liz of cheeseandchoux said...

Your pictures are lovely, and make me want a New York Christmas. I'm glad you touched on this, because I've always found it interesting that people focus on farmer's markets and the like in the summer months. After all, there's nothing like borrowing an ax and chopping down your own tree. Or, if you have an apartment like me, springing for a fresh wreath :).

Figs Olives Wine said...

Jen, this is fascinating! I love hearing about what's going on at markets in other parts of the country/ world. We've got bakers year round too - but that Turkish woman sounds fantastic. It must be great to have access to those traditional foods, freshly baked. What sorts of things does she sell?

Joan, thank you! It's a great time of year, isn't it? We had our first snow yesterday.

Maryann, I loved that too! Love all those variations you get in produce at the market compared to how homogenized it is at the supermarket.

Liz, I agree! It's a quieter, less flashy time of year, but there are still some beautiful fruit and vegetables out there. Great point you make.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Thanks for sharing pictures from the Farmer's Market! They are always so much fun to look at as the seasons are changing!

Great Big Vegetable Challenge said...

The Christmas Tree Stall appeared at the end of our road on Saturday which for us meant that advent had arrived.
I love hearing about the New york Christmas...beautifully written and illustrated.
We liked the carrot with the spiral best!
Charlotte, Freddie and Alex

Katy said...

i was spoiled through november with a mini-greenmarket two blocks from my apartment, but now i'm a union square convert until may! the selection is so much better anyways. :-) i even found zucchini a week ago -- who knew it was possible to still be growing summer squash in this terrible nyc winter weather?!?

Figs Olives Wine said...

Jenn, I'm so pleased you enjoy them! I love looking back and seeing how the colors and textures change over the year. Thanks!

Charlotte, how wonderful! We're getting ours this Friday, and I can't wait! The best tree guy comes to the market on Fridays, so we hold out for him. I like that carrot too! Glad you noticed.

Katy, it's too bad so many of the smaller ones close in the winter, isn't it? I'll bet that zucchini tasted like such a treat! I must have a look and see if I can find any myself! Miss them already.

sognatrice said...

I really need to get to our big weekly market more often; there's been a conspiracy the past few weeks between my being sick and it raining on Fridays...hopefully this week I'll get to go.

Lovely photos :)

Figs Olives Wine said...

Sognatrice, thanks! You poor thing. Sick, rainy Fridays all in a row! I hope you're feeling much better. If you do get to go, I'd love to see photos some time!

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