Daylight is fading and it’s freezing cold, yet the market is absolutely buzzing. I was worried that it might be closed, but it seems that it would take more than a light flurry of snow and a bracing -1° C (30° F) outdoor temperature to affect business at Frankfurt’s weekly Konstablerwache Farmer’s Market.
Customers line up with wicker baskets in hand, stocking up on fresh produce – lettuces and cabbages (including Germany’s popular Rotkohl, or red cabbage), potatoes, tomatoes, spring onions, carrots, an array of apples, and many other delicious-looking fresh fruits and vegetables. Transactions are generally brisk and efficient, making it hard to stick around for banter, but I managed to chat with a few vendors in-between picking out my groceries.
This weekly Erzeugermarkt, or growers/producers market, is held every Thursday rain or shine (or snow!) from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and every Saturday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. It’s a welcome change of scenery from the grey concrete jungle of Frankfurt’s inner city, and the market is a social hub for locals and tourists alike.
Frankfurt is famous for its apples, and the city’s signature drink is apfelwein, or apple cider. You’ll notice a distinct vinegary apple smell mingling with the aroma of freshly cut herbs, artisanal cheese, and sizzling bratwurst as you stroll along the stalls.
Open rain, shine or snow
Flakes of snow melt as they land on uncovered apples and pears, giving the fruit a rain-kissed sparkle. People don’t seem bothered by the weather at all. They stand bundled up under umbrellas and sip on local wine while catching up with friends, or mill around the stalls, filling up their baskets with the week’s groceries. Some even have tiny dogs on leashes or tucked under their arms, the little creatures sniffing eagerly as they pass the fruits and veggies. With so much to see and sample, it’s easy to lose track of time whilst browsing in the market.
The first stall I visited was that of Bauer Rück, a vendor well known for their potatoes. Everything at the market is grown locally in the province of Hessen (within 100km or 62 miles of Frankfurt am Main); these particular potatoes are from the fertile Wetterau region just outside of Frankfurt. A young woman at the stall who spoke some English told me that although most of the produce comes from their own farm, they also sell produce from several other smaller farms in the area. Germany is dedicated to organic, or “bio”, produce and most of the farms selling at the market are focused on producing only organic, seasonal and sustainable goods. For this reason, you won’t find oranges at the market, or any other imported or non-seasonal produce.
Another notable vendor is Jörg Schmitting, who is dedicated to organic, sustainable farming and environmental protection. He’s also part of a community of local organic farmers who share similar values and support each other’s efforts toward ethical farming. Part of his winter produce yield includes parsnips, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, and radishes. Spring is asparagus time in Germany, and summer brings a bounty of bright red strawberries and cherries.
Potatoes are a staple
Not surprisingly, potatoes are a staple food in Germany, and Frankfurt is famous for its Kartoffelpuffer, or potato pancakes. With fresh, organic and locally produced ingredients from the Konstablerwache market you can make this delicious German dish with ease.
Kartoffelpuffer Potato Pancakes
6 medium potatoes
1 medium onion, preferably red
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
Kartoffelpuffer are extremely easy to make. Simply follow these 3 steps, and tweak the recipe to your taste with different toppings and varieties of onion and potato.
1. Grate the potatoes and the onions, squeeze out any excess water, and then stir in the salt, eggs and flour.
2. Add about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to a frying pan and heat gently, adding about a third of the mixture and patting it flat into a circle shape. Fry for two minutes on each side until golden-brown.
3. Serve immediately with applesauce, honey or butter with salt and pepper. You can also experiment with your own toppings!