What’s at market in April?

baby greensThe farmers market opens up mid April in many cities around the Okangan. Mine is no exception. The vendors never cease to amaze me with the bounty that they carefully tend in these precarious early weeks to delight the seasonal shopper.

Baby greens are mostly what you will find fresh these days but oh are they ever so tasty after a winter of frozen spinach and dried kale. Baby beet greens are tender enough to eat raw. Tender onions can be found towards the end of the month and your local garlic grower carefully stored the best cloves to bring you this spring. Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes can be dug now that the ground has thawed these can be sliced to eat like carrots in those first spring salads.

If you are a wild harvester April is the time of year for stinging nettle, fiddle-heads and wild mushrooms. Be sure to be gentle to your wild environment so that your favorite wild foods can be enjoyed for years to come.

If you stored food from last year you might be clearing out the last of your winter squash from your root cellar and there might be some shallots hiding in the bottom of that bag of skins. We are still enjoying apples from our apple share and the last of the cabbage has kept happily in the back of the fridge.

 

What’s at Market in June?

green peasJune sees the return of many of my vegetable favorites baby carrots, beets & potatoes first come out of the ground this month. Green onions can be found in abundance with radishes along side them. If you have had a warm enough spring peas make their first appearance at markets sometime this month and are a fleeting treat that is well worth the cost. We have never bothered freezing peas but do enjoy them when they are in season. Lettuce increases in variety and in size and the cabbage lover will probably find a small fresh head in someone’s stand.

Strawberries are the highlight of this months fruit basket with those delicious tender fruits appearing just as the last of the asparagus fades away.

I always find June a tricky month for cooking as it’s not quite warm enough for summer salads but no longer cool enough for winter soups and heavy dishes. Grilled vegetables becomes a quick favorite with the fresh baby vegetables bringing a new taste to the tired roasted root vegetable casserole of winter. We opt for lighter quicker cooking cuts of meat than the roasts from a few months prior the first batches of spring chickens are often found at market this month.

4 weeks of Asparagus

It’s here, it’s here!!! It must be May.

That little head poking out of the ground. That spring time delicacy that has been ruined by Mexican imports is here and in Armstrong near where I live it is abundant. Asparagus. Acres and acres of it grow in the hills near where I live, not wildasparagus in bloom on farms. Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that rewards a careful steward by feeding them for 40 years after it has been established. It is a beautiful soft fern-like plant for most of the growing season but when it first pokes it’s head out of the ground it is delicious.

We love it grilled with salt & butter. We love it steamed with garlic & oil. It is delicious with garlic scapes diced into an egg or pasta salad if you are lucky enough t have the two growing at the same time.  And this year we have bought a couple pounds to pickle. My kids don’t care for asparagus much longer than it takes for the novelty of this rare vegetable to wear off but I have seen them devour a jar of pickled asparagus like hungry vultures around Christmas time. Which led me to thinking that having 3 or 4 jars of pickled asparagus around the house might be a lovely treat for our family in those long cold months where root vegetables & squash are the only thing around.

This is the recipe we used though I skipped the sugar entirely.
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pickled-asparagus/

What’s at Market in May?

swiss chardFarmers Market in May sees the first heads of lettuce. Those fresh salads continue to taste so good after the many months of going without. Baby greens are still tender and delicious, even the weeds are sweet in May. Asparagus comes about halfway through May and the potato farmers have stored their tenderest baby potatoes for you to enjoy this spring. Radishes start to appear this month and it may be the only time of year I am grateful to see a radish, spicy and sweet so full of life. Swiss chard will be big enough this month to enjoy and even see some of those beautiful colorful stalks.

If you are a tomato grower you can get your starts this month from those diligent farmers who started back in February I’ve even seen flowers on plants this early. Make sure you protect those tender shoots!

You should be cleaning out your pantry this month and finding all those forgotten things you stored back in September and October because summer will be along soon enough and you won’t want to eat last years preserves when this years harvest comes in! We often find peach and pear preserves a welcome delicious treat as we eagerly anticipate summer fruits. The last of our dried kale gets tossed into soups that now have sides of salad and meals start to take on a distinct green tinge as we replenish our vitamin stores. Jars of tomato sauce and frozen tomatoes do still have to last us a few more months as it won’t be until August that we start seeing the Romas appear again.