Local Fruit is In Season Now – UPDATED!

May 18, 2012 at 8:30 am

UPDATE: To add to the local fruit now in season, we’re here to tell you that there’s already a bit of summer in season in the Chicago area.  Through a combination of odd temperatures and farmer’s using various technology, you may find in area markets, such warm weather treats as cucumbers, hot peppers, zucchini and tomatoes.

We try to get as much of our food from local farmers as possible.  That means even our onions, stock vegetables and miscellaneous herbs come from here (to the strongest extent possible).  And believe us, we can tell the difference in our local veg, but to really see the pleasure in eating local, get the fruit.  Discounting, those long red stalks of rhubarb used in desserts, there’s been no local fruit besides storage apples for a long time around here. The wait is over.  Nothing makes a locavore more than the truly red strawberries found at area markets.  The first local strawberries are now here.  See what else we think you should be able to find buying local.

Here’s our list of likely finds in markets around the Chicago area right about now–do tell us what other items you are seeing in the comments.

  • NEW! – Summer’s start – Some warm weather items we are seeing in markets include cucumbers, hot peppers, zucchini and tomatoes.
  • Spring fruits – There are local strawberries.  There is local rhubarb.  Enjoy.
  • Spring exotica – The morel mushrooms may be gone, but keep you eyes open for other farmer’s market exotica.  Beetnik Jeannie Boutelle espied wild ferns recently at Green City Market, and Mo Tuffy made good use of nettles she found.  Look for various other shoots, leaves, stalks and stems only around now.
  • Spring onions, which we mean leeks, scallions, chives, green onions; cooking with these sharp, bright ingredients lends Spring its unique flavor.  You should also be able to find the first bulbs of maturing onions.  Think grill.
  • Green garlic, we love how you can use this almost like an herb.  Like, as long as you don’t have a date, how ’bout a green garlic pesto.
  • Salad greens, you can use lettuces, watercress, rocket, or as the Chicago Tribune advises, kale in various seasonal salads.  Plenty of arugula, or as we prefer, rocket.
  • Asian greens, your 40 sizes of bok choy for instance, tend to do very well in cool weather, so it’s stir fry season around a lot of CSA houses.
  • Cabbages – Most of those Asian style greens taking up space in your CSA box and farmer’s table are members of the cabbage family, but you should also start seeing more cabbage-cabbages, including Napa/Chinese cabbage and savoy cabbage.
  • Radishes grow so quickly, farmer’s can get them jn and out of their fields pretty quickly.
  • Asparagus, still plenty of local asparagus in the markets
  • Herbs, early Spring tends to bring a few herbs not seen the rest of the year.  For instance, we’ve seen lovage around a lot.  Remember a little of this celery-ish flavored herb goes a long way.  Another not so common herb we saw in the markets recently, was savory, “the bean herb”, so you know what to do with that one.  Sorrel, which straddles the lines between herb, vegetable and condiment, may still be around.
  • Roots, turnips, beets, carrots, parsnips; the amount of big, sweet overwintered crops is probably gone, but instead there will be the seasons earliest tiny, fresh, sweet ones.
  • Storage crops, your market may have linger apples and potatoes; they’re still very good