Florida Farmers Markets

By: Kanika Jelks

The Sarasota Farmer's Market and others throughout the state offer local produce and homemade treats.

You’ll smell the Sarasota Farmer’s Market long before you see it. The savory smell of grilled sausages and peppers combines with the scintillatingly sweet call of kettle corn miles before the actual start of the market on Main Street and Lemon Avenue. Throw in the pleasing aromas of Java Dawg’s freshly brewed coffee and the internal dialogue quickly moves from, “Should I have anything?” to “What am I going to have first?”

Every Saturday morning for more than 30 years, downtown Sarasota springs to life with one of the largest and most renowned farmers markets in the state. Sprawled along a beautiful boulevard, the green-focused market easily draws of huge crowd.

“At the height of season, we’ll see 10,000 people come through,” said Christine Nordstrom, a member of the market’s Board of Directors and owner of Sift Bakehouse Bakery. On any given Saturday, she’ll sell 10 dozen of her famous breakfast cookies – filled with made-from-scratch goodness and 60 of the high-demand pecan pie muffins that keep customers coming back for more.

Locally produced baked treats top market-goers’ list of must-haves, but to truly catch a glimpse of the undeniably good, look and see where the line forms. At Annalinda’s Classic Crab Cakes & Sinful Sauces, you’ll have to get there early or get the good stuff next week.

 “I have to come here every time I’m in town,” said Perri Keefe, a regular visitor to Florida who hails from New York. “This stuff is UNBELIEVABLE!” She’s talking about Annalinda’s bloody mary mix that has put this local establishment on the regional map. Six bottles sell before she ends her conversation of admiration.

James DeSterre, the shop’s owner, says a special recipe goes into every local ounce. “All of our products are freshly made, prepared with love and filled with our family’s history.” Gourmet olives, crab cakes dipped in butter and “the most flavorful hot sauce this side of the Mississippi,” fill the tent.

Just-Picked Perfection

Locally grown, made and marketed is the prevailing theme of the Sarasota Farmer’s Market and fresh fruits and vegetables are the main attraction. “This tastes just like I’m eating an orange,” exclaims 6-year-old Taj Fleming as he gulps down a glass of freshly squeezed strawberry-orange juice from Brown’s Grove farm stand. Loading up on next week’s side dishes for dinner, Taj and his mom snag a vegetable for every day of the week, potatoes, leeks, radishes and more, for less than $8.

Pallets of strawberries, just hours from the patch, prove juicier than imaginable and perfect for Florida-style strawberry shortcake (see recipe below), one more reason to stop by Sarasota’s Farmer’s Market for a taste of real Florida at its best.

Florida Is Farm-Friendly

Known as much for its agriculture as its amusement parks, Florida has a booming farm trade that produces some of the nation’s finest citrus and other crops. Farmer’s markets can be found throughout the state. Some of the best-known include the Fort Myers State Farmer’s market, the Pinecrest Gardens Farmers' Market in Miami and the Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg.

For a complete listing of Florida Farmer’s Markets, check out florida-agriculture.com


Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

Growing up in Florida, you learn to love a couple of desserts early. Sinking your teeth into tasty strawberry shortcake or a slice of Key lime pie is practically a birthright. But, you don’t have to be a native to enjoy the good stuff. This time of year you’re sure to find fresh strawberries at any one of our state’s stellar farmer’s markets. Here’s a recipe to serve up an authentic Florida-style strawberry shortcake of your own:

Start with a basket of Florida-fresh strawberries. Thoroughly rinse and drain.

Slice the strawberries in varying sizes, some wafer thin and others in nice quarters, to add variety and texture to your presentation.

Sweeten the strawberries to taste with Florida cane sugar or your favorite sweetener, squeezing a splash of lemon juice for a Florida tang. Refrigerate the berries in a covered bowl for 2-3 hours.

Bake your favorite pound cake recipe and allow cake to cool.

Slice the cake. Scoop two tablespoons of the strawberry mixture directly onto each slice. Drizzle some of the berry brew around the edges for good measure. Add a dollop of whipped cream and enjoy!

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