This week’s Fresh Pick of the Week, the first for the 2014/15 Season at the valley’s three Certified Farmers’ Market locations, is Winter Squash. Several varieties of Winter Squash – many organic – are already available from multiple area farms. Unlike Summer Squash, Winter Squash is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when the seeds within have fully matured, and the skin has hardened to a tough rind. Winter Squash is generally cooked before eating. It is not necessarily grown or harvested in Winter, as its name implies, but was commonly kept through the Winter in the days before refrigeration.
Varieties include: Butternut Squash – Butternut Squash is the most common Winter Squash variety. It has a peachy skin and bright orange flesh. Choose the darkest fruits. Acorn Squash – Acorn Squash is dark green with deep ridges. Its flesh a golden yellow. Pick the ones with a very dark green skin. Spaghetti Squash - as the name implies, Spaghetti Squash has a fibrous white flesh which resembles spaghetti. It can be eaten just like spaghetti with sauces and cheese. Buttercup Squash is flattened and round with flesh that is sweet, dry and dark orange. Look for a very dark green (almost bronze) fruit.
Did you know: Winter Squash is a super healthy food. It is a good source of complex carbohydrates. Winter Squash is also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese, folate, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, copper, tryptophan, vitamin B6, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, niacin and beta carotene. The darker the skin, the higher the beta carotene content.
Price: $1.50/pound and up, depending on the variety.
All Certified Farmers’ Markets accept CalFresh EBT Cards, WIC Farmers’ Market Checks, and Senior Farmers’ Market Checks. The Markets also offer Market Bucks that can be purchased using charge cards or cash, then used at the market for purchases.
Palm Desert Certified Farmers’ Market: Opens Wednesday, October 1st NEW HOURS in Palm Desert only (8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.). The Market will once again be held at 72-599 Highway 111 (adjacent to the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce).
Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market: Opens Saturday, October 4th (8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). The Market will once again be held at 2300 Baristo Rd. (adjacent to The Camelot Theatres)
La Quinta Certified Farmers’ Market: Opens Sunday, October 5th (8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). The Market will once again be held in Old Town La Quinta at 78100 Main Street (off Calle Tampico).
The Certified Farmers’ Markets are the Coachella Valley’s only State and County Certified Farmers’ Markets. That means all the fruits, vegetables, meats and other products that are on sale at the markets have been grown on California Certified farms. In addition, almost all the farms are located within a 90 mile radius of the markets (thus reducing the carbon footprint), and many of the products sold are “USDA Certified Organic.”
The Certified Farmers Markets are sponsored by the Palm Springs Cultural Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which was established to encourage the development of the cultural arts in the Coachella Valley with a specific focus in the areas of film, fine art, live performance, dance, music, and community festivals. The Center is dedicated to advancing education, to nurturing community-wide participation in the cultural arts, and to sponsoring scholarship awards for deserving individuals.