Spring is a time for new beginnings and the renewal of nature. The outdoors awaken to life with color and wonder. During this process of transformation an abundance of seasonal favorites begin to bloom and grow. Farmers and foodies alike excitedly greet this bountiful time of the year.
A visit to your local farmers market in spring will instantly open your eyes to vibrant colors and entice your taste buds with fragrant aromas. As the market comes to life with activity, you have the opportunity to taste samplings of sweet delights, hand-select fresh flowers, choose from an array of locally grown fruits and vegetables and interact with people from all walks of life. There is nothing quite like the instantaneous sense of simplicity and community that you feel on a farmers market day.
This is one of the best times of the year to buy in-season fruits and vegetables, at their peak and ripe for the picking – when the quality and taste is at its best. Those abundant tables are filled with fresh food brought directly from the farm to your neighborhood. This is the place to mingle, make healthy choices and create personal connections with the hard-working folks who grow delicious and nutritious food for you and your family to enjoy.
Fill your baskets with organically grown produce, wild-foraged edibles and heirloom varieties only available at the farmers market. Here is a list of my fresh picks to seek out this spring – the exact availability and harvest times of specific fruits and vegetables will vary region-to-region.
Spring Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
A bold, peppery tasting member of the mustard family, this versatile leafy green can be served raw or cooked. Although, most commonly used to punch up the flavor in fresh salads, it makes a great addition to pesto for a kick of spice that goes well with potatoes, sandwiches and pasta.
This sought-after spring vegetable has a distinct, robust flavor that pairs well with steak, fish and chicken. Those delectable green spears are super easy to cook and are perfect for a weeknight meal or special occasion. All they really need is a light sauté or quick steam until crisp-tender, then top with olive oil or your favorite vinaigrette.
Both the bulbous root and leafy greens of this earthy, sweet root vegetable are edible, making it a versatile ingredient. Younger, early-season beets are tender and tasty and can be served roasted, steamed or pickled. They add a depth of color and richness to any dish.
For something extra special, search out the gorgeous heirloom varieties – grown from seeds lovingly passed down from generation to generation. They come in a rainbow of colors, sure to brighten your spring table. Their sweet, crunchy bite is irresistible raw and just as enticing with a quick roast or sauté.
The first stone fruit of the year, the popular Rainier variety is available from May to August, depending on your region. Enjoy raw for an irresistible, plump and juicy snack that’s bursting with flavor. If you prefer a baked delight, they make the best pies and tarts or serve as a great accompaniment in savory dishes.
The flowering stem of the garlic plant, add these curling green shoots anywhere that you would normally add garlic. They bring a springy, fresh quality to pesto, soups and pasta salads.
A variety of cool weather herbs flourish in the spring, including mint, chives, cilantro, parsley and thyme. Those dainty tendrils add bright color and flavor to any meat, vegetable or fruit dish. A versatile ingredient, you can make a homemade herb butter, use in marinades or purée them for pesto.
Hailed as a “superfood”, this longtime health food staple is closely related to cabbage. The large, dark green leaves have become wildly popular in the last decade due to their nutritional value. The deep herbaceous flavor and fibrous texture can be mellowed by braising them until velvety and tender.
You have innumerable varieties to explore, with a range of colors, textures and flavors. Make an ordinary salad beautiful with the unique characteristics of these blends. Just grab a handful of your favorites for a quick and healthy meal.
Appearing in spring, these mushrooms grow in the wild in many areas of the U.S., though they are most prevalent in the Midwest and throughout the Appalachians. Some of the most highly-valued culinary mushrooms available today, their woodsy aroma and honeycomb textured cap make them easily identifiable. They are a delicacy to enjoy sautéed or prepared in combination with other springtime vegetables.
Fresh from the farmers market, these “garden” or “shelling” peas have a completely different nuance to them. Eat straight from the pod for a crisp pop in your mouth, purée into a soup or simply cook them for a hardy sweetness every time.
At their crunchy, radiant best in spring, the raw flesh will give you a jolt of “heat”. They go great on a salad, as a topping for tacos or to add extra zing in your favorite coleslaw recipe.
Appearing as early as March, they grow wild in higher elevations of Eastern North America. Immensely popular for their strong, oniony flavor, cooking will mellow the pungent taste. They are a serious farmers market treasure that can be enjoyed grilled, sautéed or pickled.
The very tart flavor of the crimson stalks are popular in pies, crumbles and sauces. Although, rhubarb is actually a vegetable, it is most often prepared like a fruit. In combination with strawberries, it makes a winning dessert.
Also referred to as green onions, they have a milder bite than mature onions. Both the green and white parts are edible and are commonly chopped and used to garnish salads, soups and dips.
As one of the most popular dark leafy greens, this nutrient-dense vegetable is used frequently in a variety of recipes. Look for this quick-maturing, cool season crop in the spring, when the leaves are most delicate and tender.
Savor these luscious berries in their juicy glory while they last. Nothing beats their intense sweetness, they beg to be included in ice cream, lemonade, jam or your favorite dessert.
Most known for its brightly colored stems and veins, this nutritional superstar is loaded with vitamins and minerals. With a mild, sweet, earthy taste, it pairs well with many foods. Use it in hearty soups and stews, sauté it alone or stuff the vibrant leaves with meat or rice for a tasty meal.
The small, delicate leaves of this springtime green pack a strong, peppery punch. A perennial aquatic plant, it grows in shallow rivers and streams and has been gathered from the wild for thousands of years. It makes a healthy salad base or savory purée to be served over fish and meat.
Be sure not to miss out on the most delectable springtime favorites that Mother Nature has to offer. There’s nothing better than returning home with bags full of fresh food choices from the farmers market.
If you’re looking for a fun and practical outing for the entire family – a visit to your local farmers market this spring will not disappoint!