Market Report for September 6th
It was a little warm this market evening. The heat didn't stop Kristi, Devon, Darold and Ruth, Dale, Chuck and Ginger, Dawn, Cheryl, Marie, Lois and Brenda, Bill, Shirley, Michael and Freddie, Jim, Vernon and Wilma, and Karen from putting up their tables full of tomatoes, cantaloupe, honey dew melons, watermelons, winter squash, zucchini, cabbage, beets, hot and green peppers, green beans, egg plant, heirloom tomatoes, edamame, potatoes, fingerling potatoes, okra, pumpkins, popcorn, bakery, bohemia plums, sweet corn, carrots, eggs, candles, ceramics, fresh and dried herbs, jams, jellies, leather goods, honey, which included buckwheat honey, and fresh honey comb. The warm weather didn't keep the crowd away at the beginning of market either. The crowd thinned out, but had a steady flow for most of the market night. There is only a few weeks of the Toledo Farmers Market left so be sure to come on out and make your purchases from your favorite vendors.
As I walked around and checked out the vendors tables before market, I noticed a sign that made me chuckle, "New" potatoes; one dollar a bag. Why did it make me chuckle? Well, I really don't think you would be selling "Old" potatoes. I know what the sign was telling the customer, but I still had to chuckle. New potatoes are freshly harvested young or small potatoes. They have paper-thin skins and lots of moisture inside. They also tend to be sweeter than older potatoes. Chuck and Ginger also had fingerling potatoes for sale. Waxy potatoes, such as red, Yukon Gold and fingerling varieties retain their shape during roasting and have a dense creamy texture when cooked. If you love roasted potatoes, fingerlings are an excellent potatoes to use.
I stopped and talked with Ruth and she told me that she dehydrates her okra. Okra perishes quickly, so if you can't use it right away, you will need to preserve it. To dehydrates okra, wash the okra pods with a vegetable scrubber under cool running water to remove dirt. Slice off the stem and hard tips from the pods with a knife. Slice the okra pods into 1/4 inch slices. Place the okra into the tray of a dehydrator preheated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the okra to dry for 8-10 hours. Check the temperature with a thermometer every couple of hours to make sure that it remains between 140 and 150 degrees. Check the okras after the eight hour mark and every hour after that by taking out a couple of slices and cutting into them. When no moisture is rendered from cutting or squeezing and the texture is brittle, they are done. Cool the okra at room temperature before packaging it in an air tight container. You can even season with your favorite seasoning before you spread it out onto the dehydrator trays. Don't worry about trying to separate them, its almost impossible, what with the slime and all. Just try to get it in one layer and then season it again. Let it dry for several hours until it is "crispy". Then try one, they are good! A lot of people don't realize that dried okra makes really good snacks. Eat them dry as you would chips or peanuts. And this winter when sitting around wishing you could have a yummy plate of fried okra, just add water. They rehydrate easily. Then just cook it as you would cook the fresh stuff.
On my next stop, Bill and I discussed tomatoes. He sells a small paste tomato that he dehydrates and blends it into powder. Add a little of the powder to your dishes and you have the extra tomato punch you need. To make tomato paste, mix water and powder in a ration of 2:1. For tomato sauce, mix in a ration of 4:1. Add seasoning if you like. Or simply add to soups, stews, etc as a thickener. If you use tomato powder to make tomato sauces add garlic and seasonings to make a pizza sauce.
Dehydrating tomatoes is best if you use meaty style tomatoes. Use Roma tomatoes both for sauce making and dehydrating. You don't want the tomatoes to be over ripe for dehydrating. Wash and slice the tomatoes, the more evenly you make your slices the more evenly it will dehydrate. Place the tomato slices on the trays. But be sure air can flow freely between pieces. Dehydrate at 145 degrees until crispy, 6 to 12 hours. You need to check the trays and rotate them if it seems one area is drying much faster.
There is plenty of bountiful harvest at the Toledo Farmers Market for you to eat, dehydrate, can, or freeze for you winter pleasure. See you at market.