A friend recommended I visit the Smyrna Farmer's Market and I thought this would be a great subject for Serious Eats. The market turned out to be a very small outfit, maybe 10 vendors, in the First Baptist Church parking lot. I made the best of it and visited each vendor.
They were a nice mix of wholesome products for the body (soap, lotion), produce (sweet potatoes, zucchini, crabapples) and even a few baked goods (Greek pastries and a retail chain bakery). Having never worked with crabapples before, I was intrigued. I purchased a few pounds of them and decided I'd make jelly.
I have made jams before but not jelly. I researched a few recipes and the gist was to boil the quartered crabs in water until very soft, suspend the solids over another pan and collect the juice for an hour. Then, add a good deal of sugar and bring the temperature to 220°F.
I only purchased about three pounds of crabapples so I got a very small yield but this stuff is amazing. Tart and sweet—in no way resembling any product I've ever made using apple. It's brilliant red.
I bought a small melon referred to as a "Mickie Lee" melon. It looks like a honeydew but is actually a watermelon. It was extremely sweet and the perfect size for a family of three. It also didn't require two years of weight training to carry home.
The Greek pastries seemed out of place at this market but they were a delightful anomaly.
Finally, the sweet potatoes I purchased were very small and I decided they would make a nice twice-baked sweet potato. I began thinking of all the possible combinations and realized just what a blank slate sweet potatoes can be.
I baked off the sweet potatoes for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F. and allowed them to cool. I scooped out the flesh and after mixing it with the add-ins, I spooned the flesh back into the jackets and baked the sweets a second time to heat through.
I am not one to advocate opening a large can of something to use two tablespoons, so pick and choose your add ins—what's in the house is what you use. If you've got an open can of condensed milk—great! If you've got a couple of tablespoons of mascarpone from a container you didn't finish in the prep of another recipe—perfect! Use your imagination and mix and match any of the add ins.
Next time a bigger market, but I hope that the little Smyrna Market matures, season after season, to become a great source for local produce. In this little church parking lot, the seed has been planted.
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