What’s In Season Now Tastes Like Spring

May 3, 2013 at 11:48 am

Green Garlic from Vera Videnovich/Videnovich Farms Courtesy of Green Grocer Chicago


Maybe it’s me, but my idea of what Spring tastes like and what it actually tastes like is widely off.  Tiny plants, emergence of green, the (infrequent) return of sun and warmth; my imagination tells me that Spring should taste delicate, mild, sweet.  What I know from years of eating local is that Spring tastes much different.  The Spring season, especially the earlier parts of the Spring season, taste unlike what I expect.  There is a definate meme to the season, and it is sharp, vegetal, often bitter and set to jolt your palate not gently awaken.

The truest sign of seasonal eating is not scoring asparagus and peas from covert sources; it is using various young onions in your cooking.  A good locavore should be running out of storage onions by now.  In their place, he or she cooks with scallions and immature onions.  Instead of the mellow sweetness cooked onions give dishes; scallions stand un-bowed.  They lend that sharp flavor of Spring to all they touch.

This is also the time of year of green garlic.  Again, we should be running low on stored, dry garlic.  We can use green, fresh garlic for flavoring as we would old garlic, but green garlic much more lends itself as an element to a dish.  Green garlic is a vegetable as much as a seasoning.  Again, those wonderfully pungent green garlic dishes taste of the season.

Or take sorrel, who’s small season may even be over.  It looks not too different from spinach, but you bite it and you get a sour burst pretty much exactly as if you bit into a lemon.  That’s what Spring tastes like.

What else you’ll find, early greens, wild items, lean bitter.  Likewise, the Spring crops of carrots, beets, and turnips tend to be more earthy and less sweet than their fall (and storage) versions.

Enjoy the taste of Spring!

Season Extension and Other Indoor Crops

Much of what’s around now comes from the hoops.  These include radishesswiss chardarugulalettucesspinachturnipsbok choycollard greens, and napa cabbage.  There may also be cold hearty herbs like cilantro and lovage.

We Can Still Enjoy Last Year

We think you may still see some nice stored crops including carrotspotatoes, radishes, and onions.

Foraged and Field

Do we report these things just for reference.  Will you actually taste ramps, various cresses, garlic mustarddandelion greensfiddle-head fernssorrel, or morel mushrooms.

Who will have the first LOCAL asparagus?




Your ability to purchase what’s in season is finally expanding.  Jeannie, in the Local Calendar is keeping you ascribed on key markets, and we’ll have our fuller 2013 Market Locator up soon.  There’s still plenty of time to find a CSA box too.  See our big list to find a CSA for you.  Our friends at Fresh Picks have a good and growing inventory of local food, or you can try one of these stores that specialize in local foods:

Artisanal Wilmette – 414 Linden Ave. Wilmette

Butcher and Larder 1026 North Milwaukee in Noble Square, Chicago

Dill Pickle Food Co-op – 3039 West Fullerton, Chicago

Edible Alchemy Foods Co-op - Located in the near-SW Pilsen neighborhood, the co-op has grown to five locations in, including Hyde Park, River North, Lakeview, and Logan Square

Green Grocer 1402 West Grand Ave in West Town Check out their produce share January 9th through May 4th. You can still subscribe even though the share has started already.

Marion Street Cheese Market 100 South Marion St. Oak Park

Provenance Food & Wine - 2 locations Logan Square 2528 N. California Lincoln Square 2312 W. Leland Ave.

Publican Quality Meats – 835 W. Fulton, Chicago

Sauce and Bread Kitchen - 6338-40 N. Clark, Chicago

Standard Market – 333 East Ogden Ave., Westmont