Walking through East Harlem last week, I stumbled upon the PS 57 Youthmarket–one of about 16 special farm stands in the city that teach the kids who run them small-business skills while increasing access to farm-fresh food in the community. There I found a gorgeous assortment of produce, including a small crate of plums.
Recalling a famous plum torte recipe I once read about in The New York Times–it was so popular, the paper had published it every September for seven years (it now lives online)–I bought a small bag's worth of the fruit and decided to try making it.
While paying for the plums and admiring the lovely carrots and radishes and grapes displayed across the table, it suddenly hit me: the leaves may finally be changing in the city, but that doesn't mean the season for buying locally-harvested produce has ended. Quite the opposite, in fact.
When I got home and looked at the New York State harvest calendar I was astounded to see that as many as 36 varieties of fruit and vegetables are typically available in October. That means right now you can stop by your local stand and find piles of colorful apples, pears, watermelon, beets, kale, cauliflower–the list goes on and on. And, yes, this includes tomatoes, those glorious symbols of late summer.
There are almost 20 farmers markets above 100th Street alone according to New York City's official farmers market map, and all of them are open until Thanksgiving. In other words, there's no better time than now to start trying out recipes for the biggest food holiday of the year.