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.

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.