Tuesday, May 4, 2010
What's available in May?
Now I am a huge believer in eating foods that are in season. Of course this is more of a guideline or goal than a strict practice. That being said, so many of use (me included) grew up so removed from the farm that maybe we don't know what is in season. Sure we have a vague idea that apples come into season sometime in the fall and watermelon in the summer. So how do we know what's in season? One simple way to find out is to head on down to your local farmer's market. What's there is what's in season (for the most part). But if you are like me, you want to know ahead of time what you are going to run into. Maybe even have a few recipes available?
For this reason, I have decided that close to the first of the month, I will share with everyone what is in are about to be in season.
May foods in season in the Midwest:
Arugula (aka rocket). It's like lettuce but tastes nutty. Once the weather turns hot, it'll turn nasty.
Asparagus is allegedly in season April through June. But there is a catch here! One plant will only produce edible shoots for about two weeks. Then they turn tough. FYI, asparagus is actually the shoot of what turns into a fern-like plant and is actually quite lovely! They are hard to grow and come in many different colors.
Beets! I love beets! You can roast them, boil them or pickle them. I know that you are used to the red ones but they come in all kinds of fun colors and even stripes.
Carrots should be coming up although with proper storage, you can have them all year long. Heck, with a good enough hoop house, you can leave them in the ground. And yet again, there are a gazillion colors of carrots. Look for purple and red, my favorite!
Fava beans might be available. These are pretty labor intensive so not a lot of farmers will grow them. They go great with a nice bottle of Chianti... but you knew this.
Greens such as chard, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, collard greens, beet greens – they can be used almost interchangeably in recipes (although each will add its own distinct flavor). Actually, you could use these where you might use spinach but some of this can have a bit of a kick.
Green garlic and garlic scapes look like giant green onions but taste like garlic. Well, they have a stronger taste than green onion but milder than garlic so adjust accordingly.
Herbs are popping up, especially basil and cilatro. Throw them into everything. You'll thank me later.
Lettuce, which is cool season, is available. With a good set up, you can actually keep lettuce and spinach all year long. Well, maybe not in the super-heat of the summer.
Morels might be lingering about. You can't grow these, though. You have to find them in the wild which I don't recommend you doing. There are "false morels" out there that can make you really, really sick. But if you do find them... YUM!
Mushrooms in general should be available. That being said, if they are being grown and not just gathered, they are available all year long.
Onions aren't technically "in season" but they store easily and a good farmer will have some available. Same is true with...
Radishes. I'm not a huge fan but hey! There they are!
Rhubarb has been up for about a month. Have you had rhubarb pie? You should. Trust me.
Spinach is up where lettuce is up. I can eat spinach every day. True story.
As far as meat, chicken and turkey are available, of course. You can probably find lamb, beef, bison and pork. However, with summer coming on, the focus should be away from meats and towards veggies. Meat was eaten more in the winter when not a lot of other foods were available. Fish will be abundant although you don't see much fish at a farmer's market.
Of course with modern advances in food storage, it is possible to eat local food all year. My recommendation? But a little extra at the farmer's market and freeze or can it! Virtually everything on my list can be easily stored.