Over the last several months, I’ve visited a different Triangle afternoon farmers market in an effort to both satisfy my yen for seasonal produce and avoid the early morning hours of traditional Saturday markets. During my April visit to the Durham Farmer’s Market, I discovered Hakurei turnips, and last month at the Raleigh State Farmers Market I experimented with pattypan squash and lion’s mane mushrooms. The Wednesday Carrboro Farmers Market was the setting for my third farmers market dispatch.

Surrounded by charming, brightly colored cottages, the market is held at Carrboro Town Commons (301 Main Street). In addition to the seventy-five plus vendors, the market boasts plenty of parking and a playground to occupy the small fry, leaving me to do a full sweep of the market before committing to purchases.

After the recon, I zeroed in on two vendors with items that were unfamiliar, yet intriguing. At Angie Raines’ South Wind Produce, I scored a pound of vine-grown heirloom Italian wax beans. Mid-August marked their first appearance of the year and the yellow, flat beans will only be available until early September. Raines likes to cook them in stock with some onions and tomatoes, but I desired a quick, lighter preparation. I cut off the stem end and sliced the beans in half, then quickly braised them in a covered skillet with a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of white wine, and some chicken stock. Once tender-crisp, I uncovered the beans and sauteed them until the liquid cooked off. Just before serving, I tossed the beans with a few ounces of shaved Pyrénées Brebis Mons, a hard sheep’s milk cheese. I’m already a fan of yellow wax beans, but the snappy texture of the heirloom beans really made the dish sing.

Shelley Roger’s Orby Dare Orchard had the most delicious surprise of the day: Maypops. Most passion fruit comes from the tropics but there’s also a variety native to North Carolina. The passiflora incarnate, or Maypop as it’s known, can be found growing wild in every county of the state. The skin is green like a Persian lime and the membrane and pulp are the same shade of ivory as old piano keys. To eat it, you break open the hollow-feeling fruit with your thumbs and eat both the pulp and crunchy seeds within. The taste is candy sweet with a hint of citrus. Although the pint I bought was devoured straight up, they can also be cooked. For example, at Chapel Hill’s Lantern, the kitchen simmers the fruit until it turns into a syrup, then spoons it over panna cotta.

Stay tuned for an upcoming fall farmers’ market dispatch. In the meantime, here are a few additional takeaways from the Carrboro Farmers Market:
  • Entering the market, the very first vendor you’ll encounter is Yee Haw Doughnuts, selling freshly fried cake doughnuts smothered in a variety of tempting glazes.
  • In addition to heirloom beans, South Wind Produce sells a pink-fleshed fingerling potato called AmaRosa.
  • Chapel Hill Creamery was on hand with their Dairyland Farmer’s Cheese, which recently won first place in its category at the annual American Cheese Society’s competition.