What’s in Season?
In fields, backyards and farmers’ markets around the Island, signs of spring are all around. Make good use of the fresh, vibrant new vegetables and fruits available March through June on PEI.
Fiddlehead greens are the furled heads of a young fern that is both commercially grown and foraged across Atlantic Canada from the middle to the end of May. To cook fiddleheads, remove the brown papery husk before washing in several changes of cold water, then boil them in salted water. Boiling reduces the bitterness and the content of natural tannins, so try changing the water halfway through cooking, for a total cooking time of about 12 minutes. The flavour of these seasonal greens is like a cross between spinach and asparagus, so try them with lots of butter and garlic.
Radishes are part of the Brassicaceae family, along with cabbage, mustard, kale and broccoli. These are one of the earliest crops available on PEI, as they only take about a month’s growing time and are at their peak from May through July. Radishes come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, colors, and colors, but they are all a great treat, with crisp, peppery roots that are great for snacking, pickling, or in salads.
Labour-intensive to grow, asparagus are the young shoots of a particular kind of lily plant. They’re one of the delicacies of the vegetable world, with a price tag to match, and have a distinct, intense savoury flavour. PEI asparagus is available late May to late June in farmers markets. It tastes great prepared simply. Try sautéing it over high heat for about 3 minutes with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
Although technically a vegetable, rhubarb is treated as a fruit despite its’ tart flavour. Its stalks are dark red tinged with green, and its (poisonous) leaves are a bright green. All rhubarb is too tart to be eaten raw, so it’s best cooked with plenty of sugar. It goes well with ginger, citrus and strawberries and is very at home in pies, cakes and jams.
Onion Ramps and Garlic Scapes
Both ramps and scapes are from the Alium family, home to onions, garlic, leeks and chives. In mid- spring, these bulbs sprout some curly and leafy edible greens that can be found both in the wild and in farmers’ markets. Look for bright green, tender shoots and try adding them to salads or lightly sautéing them with butter and salt.