Thursday, May 08, 2008

What's in Season - May

Before It's June

As I just posted, May is finally starting to bring some farmer's markets, and with such, the ability to add local to your table gets a bit easier. May is a time for mixed product around here. We can roughly divide our what's available into 4 categories.

The Esoteric
The earliest spring crops are mostly still there, and unlike the last couple of months are entering a bit into the markets. Over at LTHForum, shoppers have found ramps at Whole Foods. Likewise, Irv and Shelly have them to order. Other foraged type crops include morels, garlic mustard, dandelion, nettles and watercress. See if you can find these real spring around Chicago.

The Classics
Yes, local asparagus can be now had. Irv and Shelly have. I know Cassie was working her hardest to get some too. Spring onions ("scallions") are around. Rhubarb should be available too/soon. A couple of other early crops you might find are sunchokes and burdock root. Hopefully, we'll see strawberries.

Greenhouse Crops
Spring farmers like my pal, Farmer Vicki, are working their hoophouses with abandon. Their crops include lettuces, chard, bok choi, kale, carrots, spinach, beets, and the ever present sprouts. Fresh herbs this time of year include cilantro* and sorrel.

Stored Crops/Frozen
Over-wintered parsnips are around, maybe a few over-wintered carrots. In these cases big is better. Michigan apples are sill hangin' in; I saw them this week at Caputo's in Elmwood Park and Cermak Produce in Chicago. Likewise both places had Wisconsin potatoes. There's keeper onions lollygagging around too.

Meat and eggs.

*The saying goes, what grows together goes together, but cilantro is most vexing (to me). It's a cool weather herb and mostly in season around this time of year. Yet, when I think, what does cilantro most go with, and I think salsas, especially salsa crudo's or fresh tomato salsas. These, surely, are not in season for a while. I got a nice bag of cilantro last week in my CSA. Twice this week, my wife prepared on of our favorite cheats, guacamole. The avocado, lime and serrano chile may have been non-local, but at least we found a use for the cilantro! (local onions too).

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