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Front Burner | Farmers Markets

Nancy Caster's Tustin Thrives

October 04, 2000|DAVID KARP

After 25 years as a Sunkist employee and supervisor and five years as a manager of Orange County farmers markets, Nancy Caster retired last week. Shoppers at her four markets will miss her enthusiasm and verve in writing newsletters and cookbooks.

The Tustin market she helped build is a solid mid-sized affair. Last Wednesday, Atkins Nursery of Fallbrook offered mahogany-colored Li jujubes, sweet, crunchy, walnut-sized fruits with a slight tinge of acidity, an East Asian alternative to the apple. The stand also sold aromatic white-fleshed guavas and orange cactus pears, still attached to their spiny paddles.

Jeanne Davis, also of Fallbrook, had round Reed avocados, the best bet for avocados at this time, sweet lemons (insipid to most tastes but much appreciated by Middle Easterners) and two colorful winter squash: bright yellow Delicata, with creamy orange flesh, and deep-orange, turban-shaped Uchiki Kuri, with a chestnut flavor.

Greg and Reginald Scrimshaw of Lake Elsinore sold slices of giant Tahitian squash, buff-colored fruit with bulbous bottoms and sweet, dark-orange flesh. They also had old-fashioned Summer Casaba melons with sugary, delicate white pulp and modern, elongated Honeybelle Casabas.

Mike Almond, who calls himself Farmer Mike, set out a table of fresh, crisp Red Oak, romaine, greenleaf and butter lettuces grown in North Long Beach.

Rui Shimomura offered a bounty of locally grown Japanese specialties, including daikon, white-fleshed Japanese sweet potatoes and gobo, or Japanese burdock, the long brown root that is peeled, cut into thin strips and cooked in stir-fries and stews.

Viva Andres of Orosi had bitter melons and their greens, yam leaves ("good for the blood," she said) and , or Chinese okra, large as ears of corn, eaten in curries and stews. Ha's Apple Farm of Tehachapi sold excellent Golden Delicious, Empire and Jonagold apples, while Mack Edwards had Mutsus, Arkansas Blacks and Fujis from Springville, in the Sierra foothills.

Tustin farmers market, El Camino Real and 3rd Street, Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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