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 Spring?
Contrary to what you might think – early Spring is the thinnest time for produce in the North East…
Lamb & Mutton: The Northumbrian Hill lamb season ends in March, with lambing starting in April – so the 2018 Northumbrian Hill lamb coming to market in early September. But – in North East lowland farms, lambing started in January, so the new season lowland lamb should be available from July. Meanwhile there should be some mutton available – delicious with leeks and barley in warming broths and stews.
Pork, ham & bacon: Several farmers’ market regulars raise rare breed pork – Oxford Sandy & Black, Tamworth, Gloucester Old Spot and Middle White to name just a few. These well looked after pigs will take 6 -7 months to mature compared with the 5½ months for most large scale produced pork. The slower growth gives better quality meat, and the fat on these breeds carries a lot of flavour. Look out for dry cure shoulder bacon which is just right for adding, chopped, to a pea soup or bean stew.
Fish: Look out for flat fish, hake and monkfish are in plentiful supply. Haddock, codling and whiting should be available from May onwards. Look out too for rod-caught Tweed and Tyne salmon. Dark hot smoked salmon is great with a steaming hot jacket potato and winter salad leaves.
Vegetables: After the late snow and bitter cold, it is likely that vegetables are going to be in short supply through into the Spring, but don’t forget the (very short) North East asparagus season in late May and early June. Look out too for locally grown salad leaves in May and June – and of course we should see the first local strawberries in season in June.