The timing of Memorial Day's a marker of many things as we move through the year, not the least of which is the beginning of the farm market season, or as my friend Mike is fond of saying, Memorial Day's the real beginning of summer.
This is the week New Jersey's Farmer's Markets and Farm Stands begin to open up in earnest. The few that have been open and carrying mostly produce from other areas are now supplementing with their own local inventory, and others are opening in earnest for the first time this season. From Blairstown to Pennington to Cape May, early June is the start of the season. Visit Natural Jersey's Farmer's Market Listings to see where you'd like to start your exploring this season!
Spring in New Jersey is a relative term for many reasons. Usually wet, it's common for folks to feel like there's been no spring at all, but of course, that's what spring's all about. There is also enough of a temperature difference between the southern and northern ends that South Jersey can be as much as a month ahead in the growing season. Despite the differences we can all look forward to the same spring produce.
Greens such as lettuce, spinach and parsley are all great spring fare, and the selection & storage is the same. Greens are best in the spring before they bolt or get tough, and will keep best if free of bruises, cuts and mold. The best indicator of healthy fresh greens is good color and a crisp unwilted look,they should also smell fresh! Greens should be washed in cool water to rinse off the grit of sand and dirt that is likely to have splashed onto it during the spring rains. They can be gently dried between paper towels and stored in the refrigerator. They can keep up to a week if fresh and dry, but are usually best in the first 3 days or so.
If you're interested in foraging for your own local greens, ramps and dandelions are also plentiful this time of year. Dandelion leaves should be picked when they're still small and the flowers haven't developed. They can be eaten raw or steamed, boiled or sauteed just like any of the other spring greens. If this idea interests you I recommend getting a good illustrated book on wild food foraging to help you identify edible plants in your area. Bon appetit!
NaturalJersey.com was created in order to have a place on the web where we can all share the great green & natural health resources in NJ. I hope you find it a never ending resource when you're looking for health-minded local businesses.