Your Thanksgiving Shopping Guide for the Union Square Greenmarket, 2013 Edition
The Greenmarket is the best place in New York City to shop for fresh produce—we can agree on that much, right? So for Thanksgiving, arguably the year's most important meal, shopping the Greenmarket is the way to go. Here you can pick up your turkey, of course, and your produce from herbs and aromatics to root veggies and brussels sprouts. There's also bread, butter, lard, sausage, bacon, you name it.
The market the day before Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times to be a devoted Greenmarket shopper. It's lively, there's a huge number of farms (way more than the usual Wednesday selections), and people are all in a good mood.
Aside, that is, from the people who are not in a good mood. For each shopper enjoying the scene there seems to be someone else stressed out with no patience for the crowds. Take a minute now to decide which sort of person you are. No judgements.
If you've looked deep down inside and found yourself unable to stomach the teeming masses all searching for just the right butternut squash or mini pumpkin for their centerpiece, I have good news: you can shop the market on the Saturday or Monday before the holiday when it's far less busy, and everything you pick up will keep through the holiday if stored correctly. Like I said before: no judgements. You'll also probably rest easier knowing everything is taken care of in advance.
For my part, I wouldn't miss the frantic energy of the Greenmarket on the day before Thanksgiving for the world. Still, I try to get there as early as possible, and I'd caution readers to do the same.
If you're planning to pick up your turkey at the market, now is the time to reserve one. My top picks are DiPaola Turkey Farm and Garden of Spices, but I will defer, as always, to the Greenmarket's official turkey buying guide. If you're hosting a smaller gathering, DiPaola has a wide selection of parts that you can mix and match. And everyone should probably grab some of their seriously delicious turkey sausage.
Veggies and One-Stop Shops
When doing shopping for Thanksgiving, it's hard to take my usual leisurely stroll around the market, scoping out what looks best at each stand. Instead I tend to stick to a few stands that I know will have what I'm looking for.
Paffenroth Gardens has a fantastic selection. While the supermarket has onions and shallots, Paffenroth has at least half a dozen varieties of onion and three types of shallots. They've got butternut squash and sugar pumpkins, but also blue hubbards and delicate and spaghetti squash and a half dozen others for good measure. Most everything, including carrots and onions, can be bought loose or discounted in prepacked bags, great for the quantities you need on the holiday. They've also got a great selection of herbs, and a few unexpected selections (burdock root, anyone?).
Keith's Farm (Wednesday, Saturday) has a smaller selection than Paffenroth, but it's my other go to—Keith's got everyone beat on quality. From their famous rocambole garlic to a wide selection of greens and incredibly fragrant herbs, squash and root veggies, Keith's has some of the most beautiful and delicious product at the market.
Norwich Meadows Farm is also a great one-stop shop. They stock a wide-ranging selection of vegetables, almost all in immaculate condition. Varieties of onions and potatoes abound as do leeks, scallions, radishes, turnips, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, greens, squash, and just about any other vegetable you could want. They're certified organic, so expect to pay a bit more than at other farms that might not have that certification.
Cherry Lane Farms doesn't have everything, but they have my favorite Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower at the market, among other things.
My other favorite, while not as cut out for one-stop shopping, is Berried Treasures, purveyors of some of the most flavorful sweet produce out there. They don't have everything, but what they do have is often best-in-class.
Honorable mention to Breezy Hill Orchard—I don't think they have the best fruit at the market, but they do carry fresh local cranberries, which I've yet to see at any other stands thus far this year. Their hard cider, sparkling and sweet like a dessert wine, is also available at the market.
Bulich Mushrooms has my favorite selection of mushrooms, from white button mushrooms to more exotic fungi. Madura Farms also stocks a great selection of mushrooms along with a wide range of vegetables including Brussels sprouts on the stalk and a beautiful array of winter squash.
Stokes Farm has everyone beat on sheer selection for the big day: thyme, tarragon, oregano, italian and curly parsley, cilantro, and more were all in stock this week.
Bread and Stuffing
Bread Alone sells some of the best bread you can find at the market. It's a great starting point for your homemade stuffing. They also sell bags of unseasoned stuffing mix, pre-dried and cubed bread ready to be seasoned and doctored up as you see fit—a hell of a timesaver, and a pretty good deal at $3 per 12 oz. bag. Hot Bread Kitchen and Our Daily Bread also sell great loaves of bread but no stuffing mix to speak of.
Gifts for the Host
Going over to a friend or family member's for the holiday? No time to cook? Don't show up empty handed; the Greenmarket, once again, has you covered. If your host is a serious eater, curry favor with a pouch of Keith's Farm's famous garlic. It's truly great stuff. Stokes Farm sells a great gift in the form of a wreath of savory fall herbs like rosemary and thyme that can be hung for decoration and used for cooking until the market wakes back up in Spring.
The same goes for the bunches of chili peppers at Eckerton Hill Farm. Another personal favorite has to be a tin of the one-of-a-kind ultra-crunchy Martin's Pretzels.
What did we overlook? Let us know your favorite Thanksgiving tips for Greenmarket shopping in the comments. Happy Thanksgiving, and I'll see you at the market!
The Union Square Greenmarket is open on the North and West sides of Union Square Park every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Look for the super-sized pre-Thanksgiving market on Wednesday, November 27.
About the author: Ben Fishner is Serious Eats' advertising operations administrator, and he is currently planning his next meal. He blogs at Ben Cooks Everything. Follow him on Twitter or Tumblr, won't you?