The Memorial Day weekend typically means that some of my favorite times of the year are quickly approaching. It’s not so much the summer weather, which tends to get too hot for my comfort, but the other things that come along with it that I enjoy.
I’m talking, of course, of grilling outdoors, going to farmers markets and food festivals, taking trips to the beach to eat lobster rolls… the things that, for shameless food-obsessed people like me, make dealing with the hot weather a little more tolerable.
To kick off the season that’s bound to be full of farmer’s market trips, I checked out the Buy Fresh, Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley website this week to see what was in season for the end of May and into June. I also signed up for the Buy Local Challenge and newsletter while I was on the site and, as chance would have it, I was picked as a random winner of a weekly prize giveaway – totally unexpected! I selected a tote bag and $15 credit to shop at the Easton Farmer’s Market, which I know will come in handy for some of the cooking, baking, preserving, and pickling projects that I want to line-up for this summer. Thanks for picking me!
Here’s what I look forward to seeing the most at the market in the spring and early summer:
Herbs: I get so tired of buying bunches of herbs from the grocery store over the winter; it always makes me wish that I could just go outside to snip some from the garden so I can get exactly what I need without wasting anything. Other than hearty greens and other vegetables that can withstand the cold of winter, herbs are some of the first edible plants to come back in the spring. My garden is already overflowing with sage, thyme, oregano, and mint that came back from last year. Steve and I already started our obligatory Memorial Day weekend gardening activities with a trip to the gardening center at Lowes the other night, so we will definitely be planting and getting everything back in order this weekend.
Ramps: related to the onion family and kind of like a fat scallion, these guys have a very short season, ranging from mid-April to about mid-May. This means if ramps aren’t gone from the market yet, they will be very soon. I bought some, probably at the beginning of May, to sauté for a pasta dish with caramelized onions, peas, and a sauce made with crème fraîche, lemon, parmesan, and a little leftover pasta water. It was a good two pot meal (one to cook the pasta and one to cook everything else) that also put my new Le Creuset cast iron pan to good use (which I may just be a little obsessed with now.)
Strawberries and Rhubarb: since picking up copies of Naturally Sweet Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan and Baking with Less Sugar by Joanne Chang, I’ve been really excited to start canning again and making more fruit desserts. The sweet-tart combination of balsamic and strawberries has been on my mind, so a batch of preserves is bound to be on-deck soon. I made something similar last year with raspberries, cherries, balsamic, and a little black pepper with great success. I also saw local rhubarb in Wegmans the other day that reminded me that I have wanted to make this vanilla rhubarb jam for a while.
If you’re looking to find out what is in season in your area or sign up for a local CSA share, here are some good resources to check out: