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Here's what's in season at the farmers' market in August
Many Farmers Markets and Stallholders have been struggling since lockdown was ‘partially un-locked’ in May. There was no ‘light bulb’ moment and the numbers of shoppers have been considerably lower than 2019 levels. However, we are in the business for the long haul, and as more and more people gain confidence following vaccination, we are hoping that the number of you wishing to ‘shop local’ will start to increase.
The weather has also not been kind to us. We were lulled into a false sense of well being early on in the year, but this was followed by unseasonable cold and wet weather which delayed the both asparagus and soft fruit growth. We have now caught up and are reaching the peak for raspberries, strawberries and plums, though the cherry season is all but over. Now is the time to buy soft fruit and convert it into jams, ice cream, smoothies and cakes or store in the freezer to bring a taste of the summer to the winter months.
Tomatoes, in all kinds of varieties, are in abundance and taste superb right now, as do shallots, onions, French and runner beans, courgettes, aubergine, peppers, cucumber, and an amazing number of salad leaves, some of which will have been picked that very morning. Corn on the cob is an August highlight and should be cooked and eaten as fresh as possible before the natural sugars turn to starch – to cook on the barbecue, protect the cob by leaving on their leaves and serve with a lime and chilli butter. Early marrows and squashes should also be available, along with main crop potatoes.
New season lamb is now available. The more mature the lamb, the better the taste. Try a butterflied leg of lamb or boned shoulder joint on the barbecue. It tastes much better if marinated even for a couple of hours before cooking. Make a marinade of 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1 lemon, thickly sliced, 2 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tbsp each Ras el Hanout spice and tomato ketchup, leaves from two sprigs of rosemary and seasoning.
A barbecue is also the perfect way to make the most of locally produced steaks, burgers and sausages. Sausages from the market have far superior flavour and cook really well compared to more insipid mass-produced versions available in supermarkets.
Don’t forget the Glorious 12th which marks the start of the new game season so look out for venison, and later in the month wild duck, wood pigeon and rabbit as well as grouse.
Summer fish is plentiful this month and very reasonably priced. Sole, sea bass and plaice are excellent now.
Each month a different farmers' market is featured in Kent Life Magazine along with a seasonal recipe made with local produce HERE>
Why buy seasonal food?