Eating what is in season gives you a variety of different tastes, textures and colours throughout the year. So what’s in season and available at farmers markets in the North East in the first three months of the year?
Fruit and vegetables
Root vegetables – swede, parsnips, beetroot and carrots
Greens – curly kale, broccoli, sprouts, calabrese, cabbages of all kinds – red, January Kings, Savoys and Spring
Leeks and both red and white onions
Apples – stored and for eating or cooking
Here are some quick and easy ideas to add a bit of variety when you serve up locally grown winter vegetables.
Colcannon: cakes of mashed potato with cabbage (or kale) fried in bacon fat with onion
Clapshot: swede (red turnip) and potato masjed together with butter salt & black pepper
Champ: mashed potatoes chopped spring onion (or chives or parsley or nettle tops instead of the spring onions) folded in.
And Brussels sprouts taste very good when lightly cooked, whizzed to a puree in a blender/food processor with a little single cream (or milk and a good knob of butter), salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.
Game – pheasant, pigeon, partridge and venison – roasted, casseroled or in pies, makes a real savoury seasonal meal.
Northumbrian Hill lamb is available until March while mutton (over two years old) or hogget (over a year old) makes a tasty meal in a slow cooked casserole.
There is a delicious selection of charcuterie products now available – you only need a small amount of tasty cured meats or chorizo to add flavour to salads, pasta or a baked potato.
Flat fish, scallops, monkfish are plentiful. Haddock is in season usually until the end of January.
Baked goods & conserves
Look out for an amazing selection of locally baked breads – with seeds, grains, herbs, honey, spices, currants and just plain – so you can enjoy the flavour of a twice fermented dough which has enabled the flavour of high quality grains to develop fully. Our skilled bakers also offer a mouth watering range of cakes, tarts, pies and patisserie. Make an event of afternoon tea with toasted teacakes, spread with locally churned butter and home made lemon curd (which should just be freshly made with butter, lemons, sugar and free range eggs) or bramble jelly.
In March – as Spring starts – look out for tender wild garlic, sorrel and nettle tips and use them to ask fresh wild flavours to your winter fare. In the garden herbs such as sage and rosemary complement the strong savoury tastes of game and pork, and perhaps serve with redcurrant jelly.