The first column I wrote for Try Handmade, almost a year ago now, was about berries — the love of them, to be exact. And so, it seems fitting that they’re making news in this month’s column once again. Just last week I received an email from one of our favorite u-pick farms, the strawberries here are finally ripe; the blueberries will follow suit soon. We’re a good few weeks behind those in the warmer, southern climates but when it comes to the scrumptiousness that is fresh berries we’ll take them when we can get them. And this year, when we can get them is just in time to restock our jams and jellies. Many of those we’ll make ourselves, from the fresh berries we source locally, but others we’ll buy and the Strawberry Balsamic variety from Sun Chowder Jams on Foodzie is looking promising so far.
Of course, besides the berries that I’m so happy to finally see again this year many of my other summer favorites are starting to ripen too, if not here in warmer locales. The tomato season is upon many families in the southern United States with some of the best slicing tomatoes they’ll taste all year now gracing farmer’s market stands. Don’t forget to pick up a few jars of stewed, diced or whole canned from your favorite producers as well — or grab an extra bushel and do the canning work yourself — this winter when What’s In Season Now columns are just a fond memory and scarce little is growing the taste of summer like that in home-preserved tomatoes will be a welcome addition to any meal.
Other foods to keep your eyes peeled for this month include green beans, peas, beets, summer squash, peaches, cherries, herbs such as mint — of all varieties, but a favorite here is chocolate — parsley, thyme, lavender, cilantro and some of the year’s last fresh asparagus. And remember, tomatoes aren’t the only summer bounty that can be preserved. Pick up enough to keep over for winter now or ask around the market to find out which producers you can expect to have preserves available as the year wears on.
Don’t forget to check out the April and May editions of What’s In Season Now, as well. Depending on your locale many of the suggestions made in both those columns will still apply. And if you’re new to the Farmer’s Market, last year’s how-to guide, How To Shop a Farmer’s Market, is perfect for getting you started.
Until next time, happy local shopping, happy local eating!