Monday, June 02, 2008

Preserving the Seasons: June, Week 1

After months of choosing between eating from my freezer and pantry or buying limp or unnaturally perfect produce flown in from far away, the first of June brings renewed hope for my palate in the form of the farmers' market.

True, here in northern Ohio, the savvy farmer or home gardener can have produce well before June 1. I've been lucky this year to savor early lettuce, rhubarb, and asparagus from friends' produce patches throughout the month of May. But I don't expect to buy my week's vegetables regularly from local sources until this month.

The long wait is well worth it, though. Having lived mostly on starchy vegetables, canned tomatoes, and frozen but sad-looking beans and greens for the past half year, I am so ready for my fill of salad and the first tender vegetables of spring. Even the strawberry patch I pass on the way to work every day is showing signs of promise!

So what vegetables and other fresh foods can we expect to find at the local farmers' market in northern Ohio in June? Here's a short list:

greens: lettuce, spinach, arugula, chard, pac choi

green onions and garlic
new potatoes
beets and turnips
summer squash and zucchini

It's such a treat to find so many fresh, crunchy, cleansing vegetables to start the market season, and during June I usually eat a large percentage of my market finds fairly quickly.

But June is also a good time to start preserving foods for winter, despite the fact that we have yet to reach the heights of summer, and in the coming weeks I'll share some possibilities for keeping some of these summer foods for the cold months. If you think you're likely to get started on canning, freezing, or drying produce this year, I highly recommend you find a copy of either Putting Things By or Stocking Up (I have both, finding them both on the shelves at the local used book store) and start reading the basics now so that you're ready to jump into the food preservation season. Others have outlined the essential how-tos of all these processes, so I won't dwell on them heavily in this series, but I will try to cover what methods work best with the foods that are in season.

I'm very excited to know that I'll get my produce not only from the farmers' market this year but also from my CSA weekly boxes and from my own garden, so I hope I'll be able to preserve even more produce this year and to try different ways of preserving some of those items. Wish me luck!

And good luck to you, too, as you search for your own local foods to preserve!

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At 6/04/2008 11:25 AM, Anonymous Janet said...

Thanks for this prelude. Guess I'd better get down to the book store and see if they've got your recommendations. I do want to do better this year about preserving.

At 6/04/2008 11:26 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

If you can't find them, Janet, give me a holler... I know I've seen them both at the used book store here recently.


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