After I made Tangerine Persimmon Marmalade, I gathered up my kids and headed over to the Alachua County Farmers Market. We got there around 11:30 and the place was pretty cleared out. I was feeling a little dejected. But after seeing a vendor selling karela and another selling persimmon, my spirits lifted.
I had a nice conversation with Eric, the papaya man. It was very interesting talking to him about his papayas, which are just coming ripe now. Today I learned that papaya is not a tree but rather a giant herb. It fruits for about 2-3 years, but because the temperature gets below 40 here, Eric plants new trees every year. Talk about labor intensive! Eric is a cool guy and said that as the temperature starts to drop, he lowers his prices on papaya. At that point, he will be able to swing me a deal on the fruit. I am all about deals.
Eric was selling both ripe and green papaya. I bought a ripe one to bring to Radha Syamasundara. The papayas are especially large at the beginning of the season. since they are sold based on weight, that isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Eric also grows pineapples in his greenhouse. After talking with him, I was starting to feel good about this grower’s only market. I am going to try to make it there every week. But next time, I need to go earlier.
Just this morning I was thinking I really wanted some bitter melon to make sukta. I thought I would have to go to the Indian store to gets some. But as it so happened, I just had to go to the Alachua County Farmers Market. Three karela for three dollars. I also bought some baby eggplant to cook along with it.
This was upsetting. I missed the persimmon people. They had left for the day but gave their persimmons away to another vendor. To feed to her pigs. Underneath these two boxes were two full boxes. I asked if I could buy them all but the woman said that would be dishonest. They were given to her for her pigs and she couldn’t turn around and sell them. I asked if she would give them to me and she again said that they were intended to feed to the pigs. I told her that I’m a pig. I even snorted for her. She let me have a small bag full.
She was a nice, honest woman. Still, I couldn’t help wondering if she knew what pigs usually ate.
Our time at the market ended on a high note when we met Art (pictured in the background). Art has a nursery in High Springs and Art had a fair amount of persimmon for sale. He was a good guy and gave me a deal for buying out his persimmons for the day. He also has a loaded frond of peach palm which he is going to bring to the High Springs Farmers Market on Thursday for me.
I think I scored points with Art because I was able to talk jujubes with him. Not many people are familiar with this fruit, however last year I took a trip to the homestead of the North American authority on jujubes–Tucker Hill out of Fishing Creek, PA. I gave Art the info and in return he gave me his card…a coveted resource. Although fruit trees are his business, he chooses not to deal with people he doesn’t like. Thankfully I made the cut.
Now I am home again with a few boxes of persimmon. I’m glad they are not all ripe because I have a lot of cooking to do for tomorrow’s Sunday feast. But come Monday, I am going to be up to my elbows in persimmon pulp.
Finally, things are starting to happen around here.