We wait, cherishing each radish and hearty spring green, like we forgot all the others to come next. Those radishes, strawberries and asparagus spears come out of winter like a beacon of lighter days ahead. Then one week, BOOM! There they come in a flood-like procession - all the fruits and vegetables, all their varieties. Tables are plump with culinary possibility. This year, that BOOM was perfectly timed with the Summer solstice week, here in the Okanagan.
The first of the tree fruits, Cherries, showed up on tables. These are an early ripening variety called Chelan.
From all-you-can-eat tender spinach to the terror (not terroir) of needing to process it before it bolts for the season, Im literally turning green. I love it! And I will miss these cleansing days of the shocking green smoothies (They'll still be green, just a little less shockingly), the eggs florentines, and the spinach salads for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
This week market eating got real for me. Not that it wasn't already. There are the winter months to consider of course, and these flavours we find these early weeks of Summer - and the ones fading from the tables as the Spring gets further behind us - all need to be preserved.
I have already begun to stash away flavour. This week I bought 10 lbs of rhubarb, just to chop and freeze. I will get more creative with it this week too. I'm thinking of some delicious ways of pickling and of course stewing it.
Garlic scapes are getting a simple chop to go into freezer bags too - but I forgot to buy my big haul from the market this week! Thankfully, my dear friend Adam Bullied is going to supply me with scapes from his organic garlic farm on Naramata Bench tomorrow. Once I have the basic freezing done I will do some more creative work with the next batch.
I've officially taken over my friend Tyler Harlton's dehydrator for the year (sorry Tyler, I promise to share a percentage of what comes off the racks with you all year). My first batch in the dehydrator, strawberries, are getting sliced and dried today.
Here are some things I learned at the market through talking with farmers this week:
Rhubarb - If you have got small stalks coming up from your rhubarb plant in your garden, there is a good chance it is time to move your plant and possibly split it. If its older than five years, its pretty much definite. Rhubarb loves compost. So, compost, compost, compost!
Green Apricots - Umeshu, a traditional Japanese plum wine (its officially really a liqueur) that makes a nice cordial can also be made with green apricots. I have been doing some research, and found that shiso, can be added to Umeshu too. So, I am experimenting this week with a green apricot shiso "umeshu". The very same farmer, Vintage Harvest Organic Farm, supplied me with both ingredients! I'm sure he will be happy to hear they are being married in this drink! I will share the recipe next week.
Purslane, while it's enjoyed at fine dining restaurants as a prized foraged item that dresses up a plate, upon inspection of the specimens of wild purslane I bought at the market, it is the "weed" that grows rampant in my garden! I'll be eating that more now! Thank you very much Market for teaching me :) Here is the nutritional info ( I grabbed it from a blog)
Purslane is an annual plant that is native to Persia, Africa and India. It grows from late spring until early fall. It was brought to Europe during 8th century by Arabs who used it as a salad herb. From Europe, the plant spread into the United States as well as Central and South America. Now it is most abundant in the eastern states, including Florida, and least common in the Pacific Northwest. It is grown throughout the world due to its health promoting nutrients, vitamins and minerals and due to its tangy and delightful taste.
Apart from their slightly sour or salty taste purslane is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 43 gram of purslane offers 0.86 mg of Iron,9 mg of Vitamin C, 29 mg of Magnesium,0.13 mg of Manganese,0.049 mg of Copper,212 mg of Potassium, 0.048 mg of Vitamin B2, 28 mg of Calcium and 19 mg of Phosphorus.
Oh, and Corey Brown, Raiser of Organic Chicken and egg supplier, is the sartorial master of market attire.