Eating what is in season gives you a variety of different tastes, textures and colours throughout the year.
We have skilled and committed farmers offering us some of the best fresh meat in the country at Farmers’ Markets in NE England and which usually can’t be bought elsewhere. The pastures and hay meadows are full of scent and colour with wild grasses and flowers and ready for cutting in mid-July. Meat from field beef, hill lamb (in season from late August) and free range poultry and pigs tastes better when they are able to eat grass and a range of wild herbs. Buying direct from producers at Farmers Markets means you can ask what their animals are fed on to help you make your choices.
We too can enjoy the taste of wild flowers and fruits. The Skinningrove Country Wine Company (Saltburn Farmers’ Market) is a small-scale business based in the old ironstone-mining village of Skinningrove on the North Yorkshire coast. All the wines are hand made using recipes based on traditional methods and are fermented using organic sugars and honeys. Most ingredients are organic; own grown, sourced locally from allotments and organic farms, or gathered from the wild. Some of the more unusual wines, such as gorse and silver birch, are made in smaller quantities and are not always so readily available. The wines they produce include Nettle, Dandelion, Gorse, Oak Leaf, Raspberry, Silver Birch, Sweet Woodruff, Gooseberry and Elderflower, Raspberry and Rose Petal, Clover, Borage, and Hawthorn Blossom.
Look out too for fruit liqueurs made with local fruit including raspberry vodka and elderflower gin, and towards September, blackberry whisky. Preserve-makers will also be out and about gathering wild fruits from woodland, fields and hedgerows to make wild gooseberry jam, wild crab apple jelly, damson cheese and orchard chutney.
Hens respond to the lighter days by increasing egg production so between mid March and mid October they are plentiful. If you buy eggs at a Farmers’ Market you can ask about the type of hens and how they are kept.
At Farmers’ Markets you will usually find bread, preserves, meats, cakes and biscuits with the new root vegetables – potatoes, carrots, beetroot – soft fruits, rhubarb and salad ingredients are now coming into season.
And coming into harvest-time, this is the time of year when local produce is at its best in NE England – and is celebrated at Food Festivals:
– with the Morpeth Food & Drink Festival expanding to a two day event 7th – 8th October for the first time.