Last month, as March ushered in just slightly warmer weather and a little more sunlight, our guide to shopping in-season at local farmer’s markets focused on seriously cold weather crops. This month however, as April in most regions brings in moderate temperatures and days with a significant amount more sunshine our list of local foods available gets longer and more interesting.
Those cold weather crops we discussed last month — lettuces, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, garlic and leeks, for instance — are still available in most places, but in certain regions April’s seasonal foods will give us the ability to add more dimension to the table. Citrus, artichokes, beets, chives, horseradish, asparagus, sweet onions, and shallots are just to name a few. In some of the more southern areas Strawberries may even peek out from beneath their vines and make an appearance at the market.
And then there is one of my all time favorites. Though I’ll have to wait a little longer for them here in Michigan, many people around the country can get a jump on my season and indulge now.
When I was young I had a friend whose father I adored. Every year he would head to the woods and hunt. The elusive object he sought to bring home? Morel Mushrooms. And if memory serves, he was always wildly successful.
I remember watching her mom dump the contents of the bags he would bring back onto a cutting board in the kitchen, separate any remnants of the woodland floor they called home from the bunch, gently clean them up and start slicing. When that was done she’d fill the bottom of a frying pan with butter and heat it over the stove until it popped and sizzled before tossing the mushrooms in and frying them to buttery perfection.
Of course, given that Morels have a nasty poisonous twin inhabiting many of the same wooded areas they call home, I would never suggest you try to replicate the entirety of my childhood memories, but hunting a pound or two down at your local farmer’s market where they’re clearly marked wouldn’t hurt. Finding the best, fresh foods in any market is a bit of a hunt, after all.
Not sure where to find a farmer’s market near you? Check out Local Harvest for help. Not sure how to shop a farmer’s market? Never been before? Check out the farmer’s market guide that was featured right here at Try Handmade last year for tips! Happy April Hunting, all.