When most people think of the farmer’s market, they think about its midsummer bounty: the fresh cut flowers, the fragrant herbs, the rainbow of summer vegetables. I, too, adore the height of summer. I hoard and preserve tomatoes for sauce, strawberries for baking, and giant vats of pesto for pasta. But last Saturday, during my first trip to the Dane County Winter Farmer’s Market, I realized that some of my favorite market treasures are available year-round. Here’s what I bought last week:
Jordanal Farms. This place has turned me into a bacon snob. No, “bacon snob” is not an oxymoron. If you have ever tasted Jordanal Farms’ nitrate-free, pasture-raised bacon, you know why. I now feel about other, inferior bacon how I feel about milk chocolate (versus dark)– it’s just not worth it. Give me the good stuff. I also like how their website has a meat chart.
Tomato Mountain Farm. My husband and I used to call the man who worked at this farmer’s market stall “crazy tomato guy” because he is absolutely passionate about tomatoes. At the winter market, you can try the best of the summer crop by buying Tomato Mountain’s salsas, soups, and pasta sauce. My favorite is their Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce. And I’m dying to try their Bloody Mary Mix.
Driftless Organics. Driftless Organics posts on its website what items will be at the market each week, so you can plan ahead. Last Saturday, they had colorful squash, beets, potatoes, carrots, and several root vegetables I couldn’t identify. I bought several bottles of their Cold-Pressed Organic Sunflower Oil for myself and for gifts. It’s delicious for stir-frying and baking. My favorite way to enjoy it, though, is just to dip fresh bread into it.
So, as you can see, the winter market isn’t all about celeriac and pickles. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, so don’t be afraid to give it a try.