What I love about Spring is all the wonderful produce that starts to flood the farmers markets! This spring salad is so easy to make and the asparagus, basil, chives, salad greens, radishes, cheese curds, and maple glazed nuts can all be purchased at your local market! I got my asparagus for this recipe from Coppal House Farm, radishes from Brasen Hill Farm, salad greens from Heron Pond Farm, cheese curds from Bell & Goose Cheese Co., and maple glazed nuts from Anderson’s Mini Maples. This salad works with whatever dressing you prefer and the cheese curds can be omitted to make this a vegan meal.
What is your favorite spring recipe? Let us know in the comments below.
One thing that allows me to get through that last push of winter is the anticipation for maple syrup. Ah, the sugar shacks with the pancakes and the maple bacon, the maple glazed root vegetables, maple candies and more!
Making maple syrup is somewhat of a science and one of the most important factors for getting sap for maple syrup is temperature. Tapping trees for maple syrup usually begins in the middle of February until April when the first buds of leaves begin and when temperatures are in the 30s to 40s and when the night air still dips below freezing. They then boil down the sap to a certain consistency or down to candy over a period of time. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup!
There are differing grades for maple syrup and this is dependent on the timing of when the tree is tapped. The grading system has been updated since 2015 to better match the Canadian system where now there is no Grade B. Grade A – golden delicate taste maple syrup is light with a delicate flavor and is usually made from tappings earlier in the season when the sugar content is highest and the cooler air keeps the sap cool. The others are Grade A – rich amber taste, Grade A – dark robust taste, and Grade A – very dark strong taste. The darker it is the later and the season the sap and the more rich and nutty the flavor which is better for cooking.
Check out these farm stands at the next farmers market for your maple syrup fix or check out your local sugar shack!
Try this recipe or other in season produce with maple syrup!
Maple Roasted Parsnips
2 pounds parsnips
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional: 2 tsp thyme, drizzle of bacon fat
Preheat to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop parsnips in boiling water and blanch for 3 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Arrange parsnips on baking sheet and drizzle with oil and maple syrup. Roast parsnips until tender, about 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper if desired and serve immediately.
Eating locally has never meant giving up global flavors for me. I just love food from everywhere else too much. Even back in the days of the Eat Local Challenges, spices got special dispensation under “Marco Polo” rules. Bringing local ingredients to the forefront of recipes from all over the world is especially satisfying in a food-nerdy way, confirming my conviction that eating locally and seasonally is good fun in its variety.
I picked up all but my Marco Polo ingredients at the last Winter Farmers’ market in Rollinsford (the next one is February 13th), and made batch after batch of this satisfying soup inspired by the Lonely Planet’s newish Thailand: From the Source cookbook. (Which I’ve had checked out from the public library for, ahem, awhile. It’s excellent.) It’s the lemongrass and ginger and chili combo that really sends this over the top on a dark winter night.
Are you struggling to figure out how to cook your new vegetables you bought at the Winter Farmer’s Market? There are a lot of foreign vegetables that can be very intimidating if you do not know how to cook them properly. For example, who knows how to cook a turnip? Because I certainly don’t! If I don’t know how to cook a vegetable, I won’t buy it, which is holding me back from trying new vegetables and expanding my palate.
Luckily for you and me, Seacoast Eat Local provides a link in the website to different recipes for winter vegetables. You can download and print recipe cards, or you can just copy them down. We have recipes for beef, beets, lamb, eggs, pumpkin, maple syrup, turips, etc. If you don’t find a recipe for a vegetable you have, or if you find one you don’t like, we also have a Pinterest page with a variety of recipes for almost every vegetable! The link to the recipes is here and I want to challenge everyone to go find a vegetable they have never tried before and test out one of these recipes!
Zucchini is abundant this time of year, and it is one of those vegetables that can seem tricky to use. Zucchini is extremely versatile due to its smooth texture and mild flavor. Whether you have too much lying around, or you want to try it for the first time, here are some tips to sneak more zucchini into your (or your kid’s!) day
Shredded Zucchini in Oatmeal
It sounds a little bizarre, but shredding about ¼ cup of zucchini and adding it to oatmeal adds nutrients, volume, and extra fiber, without affecting taste or texture. Just shred the zucchini while the oatmeal is cooking, and add ¼ cup to the hot oats during the last minute of cooking.
All it takes is a vegetable peeler or spiralizer, and a pot of boiling water to have a healthy alternative to pasta! Try this great recipe >
Zucchini muffins take on a similar texture to carrot cake, with a much milder taste. Since the taste of zucchini won’t overpower the muffin, these are very easy to customize and sneak in some veggies! Check out this recipe >
Zucchini Sauté Zucchini makes a great sauté as the perfect summer side dish for the whole family! Zucchini saute >
What Does Eating In Season Mean?
Eating in season is a way of celebrating the food products, especially produce available in your area at that time of year. This also means waiting to eat foods until they are available to you locally, which maybe a challenge at first. Eating only the freshest, local products will provide the richest flavors and highest nutritional value. Today this can be hard with all the commercial food options available, but you will find food coming into season exciting. And you will be ready for the new products to come in their bounty.
Spring is the time of new growth with products that are leafy and tender.
Summer provides light and cooling foods.
Fall provides the end of the light foods and the beginning of the warming food with its bountiful harvest.
Winter is a time of warming and hearty foods that keep us sustained.
Why Should I Eat in Season?
Fresher foods have more flavor and provide a higher nutrient content. Seasonal foods also have what the body need at that time of year. For example, in the summer produce has a high water content and natural sugars to help with hydration; in the winter foods tend to be heartier and more warming. At any time of year, without having to be harvested early and transported a long distance (which degrades nutrients), local foods will have more vitamins and phytonutrients.
You are supporting your neighbors and the local economy by shopping from farmers, markets or locally sourced restaurants. You are promoting a healthier environment by reducing the carbon footprint of the food from the field to your fork. Lastly, you are also reducing the packaging of your food exponentially, creating less waste overall.
How Do I Eat In Season?
Shop at a farm stand nearby or the farmer’s market regularly to purchase what is coming in and out of season. See the market schedule at: http://seacoastharvest.org/market/ . Through direct sales from the farm, you are able to ask many questions about flavor profiles, flavor combinations and recipe ideas. There are also seasonal cookbooks that offer great suggestions on recipes, and how to prepare vegetables that may be new to you.
Signing up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) share is a great way to ensure you are able to try what is available each week (or bi-weekly). By paying up front, your farmer is able to plan for seeds, labor, equipment costs and more. If this is too much, try signing up for a CSA share with a friend or neighbor and learn the ropes together for the first year.
Preserving, pickling, canning and freezing are great ways to ensure your fresh and local products are available to you with a longer shelf life. There are many possibilities and canning makes for great gifts too!
Spring has finally sprung! And so will a few crops that we’ve been missing throughout this long, snowy winter. As May and June are approaching, lets look at a few crops that will be available fresh at the markets!
One delicious ingredient that is very popular during the spring is rhubarb! Rhubarb is a vegetable, although it is commonly misidentified as a fruit due to its popular use in pies, jams and sauces. Rhubarb’s crisp stalks taste sweet/tart and serve as the perfect refreshing snack to munch on as the days get warmer. The stalks can range in color from reddish pink to green and the difference is in the taste – the redder the stalk, the sweeter the taste. However, you must remember that the stalk is the only part of the plant that should be consumed. Rhubarb leaves must be avoided because they are poisonous and contain oxalic acid. This can be very damaging to the body if consumed in large quantity, eventually causing kidney failure.
Rhubarb isn’t just tasty, but it also provides many health benefits. It is notably high in fiber and also contains potassium, vitamin A, calcium and more. In fact, one cup of cooked rhubarb has an equal amount of calcium than a glass of milk (although it is less bioavailable than calcium from dairy products)! Rhubarb is a perennial crop that is very low maintenance as it rarely suffers from disease or pests. It is typically harvested between April and June; so don’t miss your chance to pick up some fresh rhubarb at the market.
Another perennial vegetable that is available this time of the year is fresh asparagus. Many are probably familiar with green asparagus and its mild, earthy taste. However, some may be unaware of the different varieties of asparagus: purple and white. The purple varieties tend to be sweeter in flavor and less fibrous, however are more susceptible to disease. White asparagus is grown using the process of etiolation. Etiolation is the deprivation of light, and the absence of light disables the stalks from producing chlorophyll. Without the production of the pigment chlorophyll, the asparagus will not be given its green color, resulting in white asparagus. White asparagus is described to be more tender and subtle in flavor than green varieties. Something that all varieties have in common is their nutritional content. Asparagus is very high in fiber, vitamin K and folate, so be sure to keep a look out for this nutritious vegetable in the upcoming months!
Lastly, towards the end of June we can expect to see the return of fresh strawberries! This popular member of the rose family is one of the first fruits to ripen in the spring. Strawberries can be confusing because despite their name, they are not a berry.
By definition, a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from
a single plant ovary. Strawberries, on the other hand, are made up of several ovaries that were separate in a single flower. This is called an aggregate fruit, and another fruit that shares this characteristic are raspberries. Although they are not berries, strawberries are still exceptionally high in vitamin C and contain powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients. They are enjoyed in many ways including raw, cooked in desserts, jams, sauces, and more! Pair some fresh strawberries from Sugar Momma’s Maple farm with fresh rhubarb from Two Farmers Farm and make a pie, muffins, jams or even compote. See the recipe below for some ideas!
Servings: makes about 3.5 cups
1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered lengthwise
1 pound rhubarb, stalks only, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and serve warm over vanilla ice cream, angel food cake or waffles.
Asparagus and Strawberry Salad with Balsamic and Basil
Makes 2 appetizer sized or 1 sizable salad.
5 large stalks asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup halved or quartered fresh strawberries
6 cups fresh greens (mesclun, baby spinach, romaine, mache — all of these will be just fine)
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tabelspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp agave or maple syrup
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions Bring a small pot of water to boil. Add the asparagus and blanch for 1-2 minutes till the stalks are still crunchy, but bright green and just tender enough to be palatable to you. Slice the basil into thin ribbons and, in a large bowl, combine the greens, asparagus, basil, and strawberries. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, syrup, and salt/pepper. Toss with the greens. Serve.
Here are some helpful and hopefully inspiring ways to enjoy local food, celebrate the seasons and eat local foods all year long.
January (Nov-April) : Winter Farmers Markets
Winter markets are a fun and warm retreat from the harsh weather. In addition to many farmers and edible products, some markets have live music, instructional demos, and tastings in addition to the shopping. They are a great way to stay connected to your local food source and try a variety of root, storage crops and greens through the colder months. Some are weekly and some are bi-weekly, so be sure to check the schedule before attending.
Saturdays Seacoast Eat Local (Rollinsford and Exeter) NewmarketFarmer’s Market, Newmarket NH Rolling Green Nursery, Greenland NH
Raymond Farmers Market, Raymond NH
Saco River Farmer’s Market, Saco, ME
York Gateway Farmer’s Market, York, ME
Sunday Berwick Farmer’s Market, Berwick, ME
Kittery Farmer’s Market, Kittery, ME
Salem Farmer’s Market, Salem, NH
February – CSA Fairs & Sign Ups
Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) creates a partnership between farmers and their customers. CSA members become shareholders, sharing the risks and benefits of the growing season. In return for making a investment early in the season, CSA members receive their “share” of the crops (typically given in weekly allotments) and are able to have a taste of what is in season. By paying ahead, the members are able to help the farmers pay for seeds and up front labor costs.To see more information on specific CSAs check out http://www.seacoasteatlocal.org/find-local-food/csas/
February is also the month of football celebrations and snacks. Make sure to include local wings in your football festivities!
Also, don’t forget to support your local greenhouse if you choose to purchase flowers to celebrate Valentine’s Day this month.
March – NH Maple Month/ Weekend
New Hampshire maple month is a great time to get to tour some local farms featuring their maple products. Every weekend this month different farms throughout the state host open houses including demos, tastings and a tree tapping ceremony. Be sure to check of the site for dates and times. This is a sweet event that’s perfect for the whole family to enjoy!
April –Local Easter Dinner Including local Hams and Home Garden Planning
Talk to the farmers at the winter markets to reserve your local food to share with your family for the big holiday meal. Local hams are a great addition to your big meal, especially with a local, homemade maple glaze. See recipe below for an easy example.
Maple glaze for ham:
¾ cup local maple syrup 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover ham with glaze during the last half hour of cooking. Baste frequently.
This is an in-between time in the New England growing season, so it is a great time to try new cooking techniques and recipes to prepare for the upcoming peak growing season. There are cooking and preserving classes happening all year round. By preparing with knowledge and equipment now, you’ll be more prepared for the peak harvest of fruits and vegetables at the high point of the season. See the links for more info:
It is also a great time to start planning out your home gardens or consider being a part of a community garden near you. This allows you to get to know others in your community with similar interests who can help with any agricultural/growing questions.
There are 30 summer farmer’s markets in the area of York, Rockingham, and Strafford counties. These are a great way to stay connected to your local food source and get to know your farmers, as most are held weekly, and some bi-weekly. The summer is a busy time of year for growers and others at the market. Be sure to support their hard work. These are fun to bring the kids and allow them to be a part of the local food shopping.Check out which one is near you for the dates and times at Seacoastharvest.org
June –PYO strawberries
Picking your own produce is fun for everyone!
By picking your own you usually end up paying a better price per pound. It is a way to feel more connected to your food source, especially since you had a hand in the harvest. Strawberries are usually quite quick to pick because of their size and are a great treat. They last for less than a week if stored in the refrigerator, so preserving through cooking, canning or freezing are a few suggested options. Rhubarb is also in season at this time, which pairs well with the strawberries. If preserving is something new for you, check out this easy strawberry freezer jam. It is fun to make with friends or family after a day of picking.
Freezer Strawberry Jam 1quart fully ripe strawberries 4cups sugar 3⁄4cupwater 1box fruit pectin (like Sure Jell)
You will need clean plastic containers and lids; rinse them thoroughly with boiling water and make sure they are completely dry.
Rinse strawberries gently with clean water, pat dry, then stem and crush them thoroughly, one layer at a time.
Measure exactly 2 cups crushed berries into a large bowl; stir in sugar.
Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Mix water and pectin in small saucepan; bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly.
Continue boiling and stirring 1 minute.
Remove from heat and add to fruit mixture; stir constantly for three minutes or until sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy; a few sugar crystals may remain and that’s okay.
Fill prepared containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops.
Wipe off top edges and immediately cover with lids.
Let stand at room temperature 24 hours.
Your jam is now ready to use, and can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks or
Picking your own blueberries and raspberries will take longer than strawberries because of their smaller size, but will also be more cost effective and fresher than buying already picked. With these, it is fun to make picking a game with the family or friends. Some options include seeing who can pick the most and guess the weight – whoever is closest when the berries are weighed, wins! These are great to have all year round for baking and smoothies. When freezing, be sure they are fully dried, place a single layer on a cookie sheet and place flat in the freezer so they can freeze individually, then bag and date.
August – NH Eat Local Month! (special events, farm days and open houses)
National & New Hampshire Farmers Market Week
August is a busy month for local food. This is month features special events throughout the area on farms and at the market including tours, potlucks, preserving information, picnics, BBQs and much more. Be sure to look at http://www.seacoasteatlocal.org/nheatlocal/events/ so you don’t miss these fun happenings.
There will also be special events at the markets for all ages at the beginning of the month to celebrate all the hard work so far. This is a week of markets not to be missed!
Pick your own peaches and peach festivals are also happening. They are a quick pick and a sweet and juicy snack and great to add to your preserved fruit collection.
September – Apple Picking, PYO Raspberries, Fish and Farm Festival
Apple picking is always fun for all ages and there are many delicious cooking options to follow. There are sometimes hayrides and animals to enrich the family fun experience. Homemade apple sauce is a healthy treat and also can be used for an oil substitute in baking to reduce fat intake. Raspberries are also back in season for another fall treat. An apple raspberry crisp would be a great way to combine the two seasonal specialties.
October – Pumpkin Picking, Cider Festivals, Hayrides/Corn Mazes
Pumpkin carving and corn mazes are a New England tradition for this time of year. You cannot forget the hayrides, cider and cider donuts while you are there! Roasting the pumpkin seeds make for a healthy snack on-the-go and allow you the freedom to flavor them your way.
November – Winter Farmers Markets Open, Thanksgiving – Local Chicken, Turkey & Ham
The winter markets are back! Make sure to reserve your Thanksgiving turkey ahead of time from your famer at the market. There are also all the sides and fixings you will need to go along with your turkey including fresh cranberries for an easy homemade cranberry sauce.
Cranberry Sauce 4-6 servings 1(12 ounce) bag 1cup sugar 1cup orange juice or 1 cup water
Mix all ingredients in a med sauce pan.
Bring to boil; simmer until berries pop.
Chill until ready to serve.
December – Holiday Winter Markets
Winter is beginning to be underway, and it is time to celebrate the holidays and the coming of the new year! You will find all the fixings for your special holiday meal. Keep in mind, you may have to sign up to reserve your specialty products ahead of time to help the farmers plan accordingly for everyone. You can also find a large variety of great gifts from mushroom powders, to oils, dried herbs and seasonings, wool scarves and mittens, gift cards and market tokens!
What is that funky, knobby looking vegetable at the market? It’s celeriac! Celeriac is a root vegetable, a cousin of your traditional celery. It’s leaves are not eaten, but have the delicious celery smell; a tease when weeding. Like its cousin, they both have a long growing season; celeriac takes about 112 days from seed to harvest. Its inner beauty has the starchiness of a potato with a delicate flavor of celery and parsley topped with a slight nuttiness. It is not watery like celery and is a great addition to other roasted or mashed root vegetables with some garlic. It is a great complement to many meats, makes a great stew for these cold winter days, can be fried (see recipe below) or can be eaten raw as snack sticks or in a salad or slaw. When cooked it is silky and smooth, and when raw its flesh is crispy.
Feeling adventurous and ready to try one next market? You can always find celeriac at Heron Pond Farm and sometimes other farms at the winter markets. You can pick the best one by ensuring there are no soft spots and keep in mind about one-quarter of the weight will be peeled off during preparation. You can store it in your refrigerator for two to three weeks in an unsealed produce bag. When ready to prepare it, take a thin slice off of the bottom and cut the knobbiness off of the top down to the flesh. It is best to peel the edges off using a chef or paring knife, whichever you are more comfortable with as opposed to a peeler because the skin is so thick.
So why celeriac?
Low calories and fat with only 42 calories per cup cooked.
It is a good source of fiber, vital for digestion.
Celeriac is highest in vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and phosphorus.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which helps immunity and prevents scurvy.
Vitamin K is needed for blood coagulation and calcification of bones.
Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte assisting in essential body functions.
Phosphorus is a necessary mineral for bone health.
You may not be too familiar with this unique and fun vegetable because it is not very commonly used outside of Europe and West Asia. It was commonly used in ancient European times and is most popular in France and Italy. In France, the most popular recipe is Celery Remoulade, a side dish of shredded celeriac with a mustardy mayonnaise and lemon dressing (see recipe below). Give Celeriac a try the next time you are shopping at the market!
Juice 1/2 lemon into a big pot of water and put it on to boil.
Julienne the peeled roots by using a mandoline (a device with adjustable blades) on the French-fry setting. If you don’t have a mandoline, peel the roots, cut them into 1/4-inch slices, then into 1/4-inch sticks, and put them in a bowl of acidulated water.
Add celeriac to the pot of boiling water and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain and dry well.
In the same pot or a deep-fryer, heat the vegetable oil until smoking (about 350 degrees) and start deep frying in batches until golden. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Reheat in the oven before serving.
Now Introducing: Kohlrabi Emily Whitmore, Seacoast Eat Local Intern
Pictures from Emily Whitemore, and http://www.reneesgarden.com/
Kohlrabi. What is that? Some sort of spice? A car? Wrong, it’s a vegetable! For those of you who have never heard of kohlrabi before, it’s a native to Germany and means “cabbage turnip.” As a member of the Brassica family, kohlrabi is a cabbage that looks like a root vegetable but actually grows above ground. There are purple, white, and light green varieties, all with white flesh. It is a cool-weather crop, so now is the best time to pick up fresh kohlrabi from the winter farmers’ markets!
I know you’re probably wondering what kohlrabi even tastes like. Typically the bulbs are the part that is eaten, but the stem and leaves are also edible. Kohlrabi bulbs are described as a mildly sweeter version of broccoli stems while the leaves have a similar taste profile to kale or collards. When raw, kohlrabi has a pleasantly crisp texture. For those who have never cooked with kohlrabi, the good news is that kohlrabi is a very versatile vegetable and can be eaten raw or cooked. Enjoy your kohlrabi roasted, pickled, steamed, or even slaw-style!
Want to hear the best part? Not only can kohlrabi be prepared just about any way you would like, but is also a guilt free food as it comes along with an abundance of nutrients and health benefits! It is also naturally low in calories and has no fat or cholesterol. Here are a few of the many benefits:
Very rich in Vitamin C – eat kohlrabi to help prevent those pesky winter colds!
Health promoting phytochemicals that are believed to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects
Rich in Vitamin B6 which is important for digestive, immune, and cardiovascular function
Fiber which is beneficial in digestive health and lowering cholesterol levels
Potassium which plays a role in maintaining blood pressure and bone and muscle maintenance
Delicious AND healthy, you can’t go wrong with kohlrabi! So next time you’re snowed in (and knowing New Hampshire it won’t be long) take a break from shoveling and treat yourself to a nice warm bowl of creamy kohlrabi soup. See the recipe to this tasty dish below. Enjoy!
Creamy Kohlrabi Soup.
Picture and Recipe from