As Fall Arrives, A Bounty At Chicago Farmers Markets | WBEZ
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As Fall Arrives, A Bounty At Chicago Farmers Markets

If you want to pick up some fresh fruits or vegetables from one of Chicago’s farmers markets, now is a great time to do it. Cantaloupes, chard, and cilantro are all in season, as are pumpkins and sweet peppers. And according to the City of Chicago website, markets are open every day of the week.

But if you haven’t visited a farmers market yet this year, you only have about six weeks left. The last one in the city closes on October 31st.

WBEZ Curious City reporter Monica Eng stops by the studio to share her favorite markets in the city. We also hear from food preservation expert Christina Ward, author of the new book Preservation: The Art and Science of Canning, Fermentation and Dehydration, as she shares the inside scoop on what’s in peak season here in Illinois.

Monica's Recommendations

Bread from Bennison's Bakery is displayed at the Green City Market. (Monica Eng/WBEZ)

RECIPE: Chickpea Kale Chicken Salad

Use some fresh, seasonal kale in this recipe by master food preserver Christina Ward.


1 can of garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 bunches of  parsley, rinsed and chopped

6 stems of kale of your choice

1 pound of baby spinach

½ white or purple onion, thinly sliced

2 cups shredded chicken

2 Tbs Olive Oil

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon of salt

1 whole head of garlic, minced

Zest of one lemon, microplaned

2 Tbs of Sherry or red wine

1. Rinse and destem kale, then blanch for 30 seconds. Drain greens and add to large bowl.  Drain and rinse chickpeas and add to bowl. Mince garlic and slice onion and add to bowl.

2. Whisk salt, pepper, wine, and olive oil together.

3. Add chicken to bowl, then add dressing and mix together. Serve!

Smits farms displays some colorful pumpkins and gourds at the Green City Market. (Monica Eng/WBEZ)

RECIPE: Tomato Salsa

Christina Ward has another recipe for peppers and cilantro, which are also in season.


8 cups tomatoes, diced (mixed varieties)

1 large onion, diced

2.5 cups of chopped peppers. (Mix them up for flavor. The more 'hots' use use, the hotter the salsa...a mix of bell, poblano and hots works well.)

½ cup white vinegar (5% acidity)

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup organic lime juice

2 big cloves of garlic, teeny tiny minced

Big bunch of fresh cilantro, finely chopped


Hot pepper sauce.  You may add a few drops of hot pepper sauce if you want to “hot it up.”

Organic tomato paste. You can add one can of tomato paste for a thicker salsa.

Put everything in big pot. Stir. Bring to boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes.

FOR PROCESSING: Prep hot water canner. Bring water to boil before beginning salsa. When boiling, turn off.  When you’re ready to pour in jars, put your canner back on the heat.

Sterilize jars.  Put lids in hot water for one minute.  Pour salsa in jars. Wipe rims with paper towel; rims MUST be absolutely clean or the lid will not seal!  Put band on jar until finger tight. Put jars in canner. Process for 20 minutes for pint jars. (Start your timing from when your canner is at full boil.)  

When timer goes off, turn heat off canner. Remove lid. Remove jars and put onto towel on table or counter and let cool at room temperature.

You might hear the best sound in the world: the **POP** of the lid sealing!   Some jars will pop immediately, some take 24 hours. Test your jars the next day by gently pressing on lid. It should be tight--no give when touched.  If your jars have not sealed and you’re within 24 hours; you can re-process. Otherwise, put into refrigerator and enjoy within the next few weeks.

GUESTS: Monica Eng, Curious City Reporter, WBEZ

Christina Ward, master food preserver and author of the new book Preservation: The Art and Science of Canning, Fermentation and Dehydration

LEARN MORE: Chicago City Markets 2018 (City of Chicago website)

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