In season: cucumbers


Cooking demos:

3 - 7 p.m. Thursday, July 2. "Taste of Georgia" featuring guest restaurants offering tastes and ideas for using in-season produce. Sweet Apple Farmers Market, Roswell.

4 – 8 p.m. Thursday, July 2. Chefs Sarah Dodge of The Preserving Place or Philip Meeker of Bright Seed demonstrate dishes using market produce. East Atlanta Village Farmers Market, Atlanta.

4 - 8 p.m. Friday, July 3. Lisa Lowe of Cooking for Care Givers will demonstrate how to make Squash Bread and Butter Pickles. Tom Christian of JavaGenesis Coffee Roasting will host a coffee bean roasting demonstration. Lilburn Farmers Market, Lilburn.

4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 8. Chef Kate Christian of Three Squares Kitchen. Decatur Farmers Market, Decatur.

Many markets offer chef demos on an occasional or regular basis. Check your market’s website or Facebook page for more information.


Just coming into season: edible flowers, Malabar spinach, peppers

Vegetables: arugula, Asian greens, beets, blackberries, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chanterelles, chard,collards, cucumbers, dandelion, fennel, garlic,green and pole beans, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, Napa cabbage,onions, peaches, pecans, potatoes, radicchio, radishes, raspberries, rhubarb, rutabaga, sorrel, spinach, spring onions, squash blossoms, summer squash, strawberries, tomatoes, Tokyo bekana, turnips

From local reports

Pace Produce specializes in three vegetables: squash, tomatoes and cucumbers. Lots of cucumbers. So many cucumbers that the folks at the Saturday morning Green Market at Piedmont Park have labeled Pace Produce “Your Cucumber Connection.”

Clinton Pace, his wife Jessie and his cousin Andre Edmiston are Pace Produce. The farm has been operating under that name for seven years, but its roots go back much further.

“As a kid, I always had a garden with my dad, and I wondered if I could make money at it. When I was 14, I began selling at the farmers market in Hartwell and a couple in South Carolina. I sold $1,000 my first year and the business grew from that,” said Pace.

At 15, he was selling at the State Farmers Market in Forest Park and credits the Georgia farmers there for helping him grow his business.

Now he farms 18 acres, some in Carnesville off I-85 near Lake Hartwell and some in South Carolina. “We’d like to add 20 to 50 more acres somewhere within a 20-mile radius of our home. Last December we added pigs and a small flock of chickens, planning to work our way up to having two to three dozen sows and about a thousand layers.”

The farm has about a quarter-acre of tomatoes, grown specifically for selling at local farmers markets. The Paces can be found on Fridays at the Lilburn Farmers Market, at the Saturday morning Snellville and Suwanee farmers markets as well as the Green Market at Piedmont Park.

As for squash and cucumbers, they grow about 4 acres of each. They grow Carolina Pickling cucumbers and Supremo. “I’ve tried different varieties, and I like these best. It’s about how the cucumber looks and its flavor. And with cucumbers, the flavor comes down to how well the plants are taken care of. If you don’t water, the plant get stressed and the cucumbers are bitter. Supremo holds up really well under stress. It tastes great and it looks pretty.”

The cucumbers were planted March 25 and the first fruits were ready for market in early June. They’ll be harvesting for about six weeks.

The cucumbers will go to farmers markets, but they also go to the farm’s wholesale customers including Whole Foods Markets in Greenville and Atlanta. “We pick hundreds of baskets of cucumbers and squash. Last year we picked nearly 1,000 boxes between the cucumbers and the squash. This year we hope to be picking 5,000.”

Despite their success with wholesale clients, Pace plans to continue selling at local farmers markets. “I like the people who love fresh produce. They should be able to come to market and buy food that’s grown as naturally as possible. We work with the cattle farmer down the road, using his dried manure to help build up our fields, and we do a little burning to put potash back into the soil.”

And do they eat cucumbers at home? “Jessie loves cucumbers. She’ll eat them in the fields. I’m not real big on fresh cucumbers, but I like pickles,” said Pace.

Terry Koval’s Cucumber Pickles Two Ways

Koval creates seasonal refrigerator pickles for The Wrecking Bar in Atlanta’s Inman Park neighborhood. Recently he had bread-and-butter pickles on the menu, then switched to garlic-dill. The process is precisely the same with just a variation in seasonings. He uses the same pickling recipes for other seasonal vegetables such as okra, radishes, cauliflower, carrots and sweet onions.

This is a brilliant way to create your own personalized pickles. Try these out, then create variations with your household’s tastes in mind.

12 large cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch rounds

1 onion, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

7 1/2 cups white distilled vinegar

4 cups water

2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup kosher salt

Seasoning mix for bread-and-butter pickles:

2 tablespoon turmeric

1 tablespoon celery seed

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 tablespoon grated fresh horseradish

1 jalapeno, thinly sliced

Seasoning mix for garlic-dill pickles:

1/2 cup garlic cloves, smashed (about 10 cloves)

1 tablespoon celery seed

1 tablespoon dill seed

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

5 sprigs fresh dill

In a large bowl, toss cucumbers and onion together. Divide mixture between quart canning jars, or other heatproof sealable containers.

Make pickling liquid: In a large saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt and seasoning mix. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until sugar and salt have dissolved. Turn heat off and let sit 5 minutes. Pour pickling liquid over cucumbers and onions in jars. Seal shut and cool. Store pickles in refrigerator for seven days before serving. Makes: 6 quarts

Bread-and-butter pickles - makes 6 quarts

Per 1/4-cup serving: 29 calories (percent of calories from fat, 3), trace protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 236 milligrams sodium.

Garlic-dill pickles - makes 6 quarts

Per 1/4-cup serving: 25 calories (percent of calories from fat, 2), trace protein, 6 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 236 milligrams sodium.