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Here's what's in season at the farmers' market in May
After a very chilly April, spring is now really with us. Longer days and the warmer spring sunshine engender a sense of anticipation as May progresses. We can finally say goodbye to the long, long winter made worse by Lockdown.
Once we see asparagus at the market we know we are on our way. However, a cool March and a really cold early April has kept the spears waiting in the ground, but they will be pushing through the earth now ready for harvesting. Asparagus is at its best when picked and cooked within hours, easily achievable when bought locally at the market. Make the most of the delicate flavour by serving them simply steamed with melted butter or hollandaise, or toss with crumbled local goat's cheese, some toasted pine nuts and a simple olive oil and lemon vinaigrette. As the season progresses use them in risottos, tarts, salads and soups.
Wild sea trout is one of the season’s great treats – smaller fish make a lovely meal for one. Lemon sole, cod, halibut and sea bass are all good at this time of year.
This year eating out in the open will be the best way to socialise with friends so get the BBQ cleaned and ready to go. Now is the time to splash out on steaks, chops and fillets and use them simply cooked – grilled, stir fried or griddle cooked for lighter meals. We also have a fantastic variety of sausages (from traditional, mixes, venison, even Cypriot) plus chicken breasts and wings, koftas and shish kebab). Local reared beef and pork will be at their most succulent as the grazing starts to green up.
Alongside asparagus other spring vegetables are also starting to appear after the cold of the winter. Look out for are tender little early English new potatoes. Micro leaves have been with us for over a month but now larger leaves are making an appearance such as spinach, watercress, rocket and lettuces. This year’s main vegetable crop of purple sprouting broccoli, spring cabbage, cauliflower, spring greens, spring onions and radishes is producing well. The coming of radishes and spring onions mean that lighter eating is now an easy choice for the cook.
The wealth of summer berries is still ahead of us but you can make the most of green outdoor rhubarb this month in lighter dishes such as homemade ice creams and fools. Or try making your own rhubarb jams and chutneys – the tart flavour of the fruit makes a lovely preserve to spread on scones, fill sponge cakes and enjoy simply on buttered toast, particularly if you add ginger as a flavouring.
By the end of the month the earliest gooseberries should be available, ready to pair up with their perfect partner – delicate fragrant elderflowers. Just add a head or two of creamy white flowers to the gooseberries for a few minutes as they cook then lift out and discard. The distinctive flavour will remain for crumbles, cakes, fools or creamy desserts such as crème brûlées and panna cotta.
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?