Wherever you find yourself on any given day this summer, there’s sure to be a farmers market nearby – there is at least one held in the area every day of the week through fall.
Hudson County is home to at least 11 farmers markets. While most can be found in Jersey City and Hoboken, markets are also held in other towns, including Secaucus and West New York.
Secaucus debuted its farmers market last year and the market was slated to make its return this past Friday in Buchmuller Park.
From nutty snacks to favorite pickles, you can find unique eats.
All of the markets are home to great Jersey-grown produce and fresh baked goods. Vendors who don’t sell state-grown goodies sell items from nearby farms in New York State or Pennsylvania. There are lots of unique treats to be discovered at each market.
Below are some recent finds.
Sure, lots of vendors can sell you romaine lettuce and tomatoes. But where do you go when you need a good head of radicchio or some persille? You might be able to find it across the Hudson, but who wants to trek over there every time they need salad makings?
Better instead to visit Star Bright Farms at Hoboken’s Downtown Farmers Market each Tuesday.
Popular with farmers market regulars and those with gourmet palates, this farm specializes in vegetables and fruit that are somewhat off the beaten path. Here you can discover such unique finds as cabbage beets, which can either be hallowed out and stuffed or sliced and added to a fresh salad.
“I don’t know that my customers are gourmet cooks, but they are enthusiastic cooks,” said Richard Sutton who works at the Andover, N.J.-based farm. “I see the same faces at the market every week. I think people get comfortable with us. They get to know the things we have. And I think they come back because they can’t get the things we have other places.”
Lemonade with a twist
Lemons, water, and sugar seem like a simple enough concept, but Lizzmonade – a newcomer this year to the farmers market scene – has taken the classic summertime beverage to another level.
Lizzmonade is participating in several farmers markets and community events this summer, and has already appeared at three farmers markets in Jersey City: Hamilton Park, Grove Street, and Van Vorst.
At this grown-up lemonade stand, fresh fruits, herbs, and even veggies (habanero peppers, anyone?) are crushed and mixed on the spot to create truly refreshing concoctions.
The result is an intoxicating blend of lemonade-based drinks that are as heavenly as they are refreshing. With recipes like Cool-cumber, Cherry Tart, Hotsy Totsy Mango, Lizzmonade is so fresh that even the air around the stand smells different. It’s clean and zesty, likely a result of the huge piles of fresh lemons they use to squeeze each drink as it’s ordered.
Customers can choose their preference of sweetener or go “naked” with fruits that sweeten the lemonade themselves. Fresh mint and basil add a refreshing touch.
And lovers of classic lemonade should not be dismayed. Lizzmonade can whip up a “Classic” with “nothing but lemons” better than anyone.
Check out www.lizzmonade.com for their calendar.
Snacks ‘n’ salsa
A day at the farmers market isn’t always just about produce. While the new Riverview Park Farmers Market in the Jersey City Heights boasts a nice array of fresh fruits and vegetables (including some non-certified organic or “naturally grown” choices), there are a couple of unique offerings, too.
Senor Snacks features an assortment of nuts, dried fruits, and handmade brittles. Customers are encouraged to create their own mix with all of the snacks at $3 per quarter pound.
Their coconut brittle and chocolate-covered almonds are developing a steady fan base, but it’s the delicious rum cashews that really stand out by delivering a sweet, decadent taste of rum – without the hangover the next day.
In addition to the Riverview Farmers market, Senor Snacks also takes part in the Grove Street PATH Plaza market on Mondays.
Just a couple of booths away from the Senor Snacks booth at Riverview, a Jersey City resident and former Texan can be found hawking her homemade salsas.
Saucy Sara’s Salsa includes hot, mild, and verde choices, all of which are 100 percent vegan and have no preservatives. The result is a fresh tasting topping with just enough kick to spice up some enchiladas or assist in the devouring of a full bag of tortilla chips.
These days fresh baked breads, cupcakes, muffins, and pies made from organic ingredients are common finds at farmers markets. But the Bread Company of Montclair pushes the healthy envelope even further by offering a wide selection of delectable vegan (dairy free) and gluten-free goods.
If the words “vegan” and “gluten-free” turn off your taste buds, the Bread Company’s offerings will not. Their moist, chewy, fudgy vegan brownies are as good as grandma’s recipe and the popular breads are robust and flavorful.
“The bread is a classic. People love to have a really wonderful whole grain bread. But that’s kind of a quiet standard,” said company co-owner Sally Reinhardt. “The exciting new stuff that we’re making are the gluten-free pizzas. Even people who don’t need to eat gluten-free still love them.
One of the Bread Company’s newest items, the pizzas – some of which are topped with organic goat cheese and are not vegan – have been warmly received by customers since making their market debut last month. Customers have even taken to the dragon pizza, which is strinkled with hot sauce and a homemade ginger relish made by the Bread Company, which has been in business for nearly two decades and has been vending at the Hoboken farmers markets for 15 years.
Reinhardt’s husband cooks items for market each day. Anything not sold within 24 hours gets placed a “half price” basket.
“My husband is a great believer in variety,” said Reinhardt. “He likes to offer a lot of choices to people because he thinks that’s interesting.”
Pickles and olives aren’t for everyone. But those who love the allure of these crisp greens will appreciate the products of Paterson Pickle, whose products are sold locally in farmers markets under the name Dr. Pickle.
Dr. Pickle can be found Wednesdays and Fridays in Jersey City’s Journal Square Farmers Market or on Thursdays in Hoboken’s uptown market at Thirteenth and Hudson.
Paterson Pickle sells most of its products wholesale to large supermarket chains such as A&P. But after sorting its goods for quality, some tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives are deemed too unattractive for the retail market – even though there is nothing wrong with the vegetables themselves. The not-so-pretty are then pickled and sold through Dr. Pickle.
The company’s mushrooms and hot peppers are most popular with customers, according to several who stopped by Journal Square one recent Wednesday morning.
The pickled green tomatoes are a surprisingly sweet treat that can either be chopped in a salad or sautéed with meats for added flavor.
The pitted green olives are large and firm and come packed in the brine in which they’re made – a nice break from the standard olive oil used to pack olives in most supermarkets.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.
In your backyard
Farmers markets can be found throughout Hudson County nearly every day of the week, and at varying times of day. When hunting for unique baked and organic goodies, here’s a rundown on when and where to go.
Downtown Jersey City Farmers Market
Grove Street Plaza
(Grove Street & Newark Avenue)
Mondays & Thursdays
4 to 8 p.m.
Harvest Square Farmers Market
St. Patrick’s Church (492 Bramhall Ave., Jersey City)
3 pm. to 6 p.m.
Newport Centre Farmers Market
Newport Centre Mall, Jersey City (inside)
12 to 7 p.m.
Journal Square Farmers Market
Journal Square Transit Hub on Kennedy Blvd.
Wednesdays & Fridays
10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Hamilton Park Farmers Market
Hamilton Park Gazebo (Eighth Street between McWilliams and West Hamilton Place)
4 to 8 p.m.
Friends of Van Vorst Park Farmers Market
Van Vorst Park, (Jersey Avenue & Montgomery Street)
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Riverview Farmers Market (Jersey City Heights)
Riverview-Fisk Park (Ogden Avenue & Bowers Street)
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hoboken Downtown Farmers Market
Washington Street (between Observer Hwy. & Newark Street)
3 to 7:30 p.m.
Hoboken Uptown Farmers Market
13th Street and Hudson Street
3 to 7:30 p.m.
Secaucus Farmers Market
Noon to 7 p.m.
West New York Farmers Market
Donnelly Park on Boulevard East
Noon to 5 p.m.