Spring is the season in which the world really comes alive. The sun rises earlier and evenings are longer; flowers are in bloom, the days are brighter, and temperatures begin to rise. It’s also the time of year in which you can begin to fill your kitchen with a wider variety of tangy fruits and flavorsome vegetables, as well as take your dining outdoors for the first time in months. At the end of a long, bleak winter, nothing revives the soul more completely than a picnic with family or a barbeque with friends, as food has always been one of life’s great unifying forces.
Eating fresh produce as it comes into season has a wide variety of benefits, beyond the simple joy of expanding your culinary range after months of cold, dark days and simpler, less vibrant food. When you buy your strawberries, spring onions, green beans, peas, and courgettes in the spring months, you’ll be getting them as fresh as can be, but also at the right price. Now that suppliers no longer need to source their goods from far-off, warmer climes, the food grown at home is easier to provide within a much smaller range. Less travel time, less damage to the environment, fewer costs that need to be covered by the customer.
Spring is the dreamtime of any chef, as a world of color and texture finds its way into their kitchen. Here are some of the best products to look forward to as we stride into the new season.
Also known as rocket, arugula is the edible green leaf with the distinctive bitter taste. A staple of French and Italian cuisine, this member of the brassica family – closely related to cabbage, cauliflower, and kale – is actually grown year round but is best picked in the spring. This is because the longer days and higher temperatures of the summer season cause the rocket to flower and bring an overly sharp bitterness to the leaves. Rocket is best enjoyed in mixed salads, balanced out by the muted tang of spinach leaves and the crispy lightness of lettuce. Low in sugar and calories, arugula is also a strong source of several antioxidants and vitamins, such as vitamins C, A, and K, as well as calcium and potassium.
These are best enjoyed a little further into the spring, around May, and will be available in-season until the end of the summer (August). Sweet cherries, such as Bing and Rainier cherries, are therefore the most commonly harvested cherries, thanks to their extended ripening period. Sour cherries are a little more exclusive, given that they will only be fit for consumption for two weeks of the year: for warmer areas of the country, they’ll be ripe from mid-June, yet for cooler regions they will ripen in late July and early August. Eating sour cherries outside of these periods means running the risk of tougher-textured, suck-your-teeth-sour cherries with a taste that will be sure to linger in your mouth for hours – and not in a good way.
Though available from either end of the calendar, leeks really ramp up in popularity in the spring, particularly toward the end of their ripeness cycle in April and May. Most popular in farmer’s markets, leeks are best bought when they appear straight, feel firm, and feature white necks and dark green leaves. The easiest way to pick a good leek is really by judging a book by its cover: if the leaves are limp or yellow, or if the bulbs at the root are cracked or discolored, chances are it won’t taste very good. Leeks are quite versatile, too, given that they can be enjoyed raw or cooked; a quick way to make use of your leeks is by making Mirepoix, a flavorsome stock base for soups and stews (which is also something you can make when cooking with fennel).
The bright seeded fruit that is the heart of any picnic, strawberries go with the spring season like salt goes with pepper. And they're surprisingly good for you, too, with the benefits of eating strawberries making them one of the healthiest natural snacks out there. Enjoyed as they are or mashed into every kind of sweet treat from jam to yoghurt, strawberries are at their best between the middle of April and the end of July, which is when the weather will be hot enough to garnish your drink with this tasty red fruit – strawberry daiquiris are sure to be the best way forward if you’re looking for a more colorful way to liven up your weekend drinks list. Or perhaps a healthier option would be to blitz a handful of them into a smoothie with bananas if you’re ever wondering what to eat for lunch at home.
Another variant of the brassica genus, this purple root vegetable is grown at either end of the meteorological calendar and has a simultaneously sweet and sharp taste. Toward the end of the year, around October, you can buy winter turnips, which are actually sweeter when left underground during the colder months. This does result in a few unpleasantly sharp-tasting turnips here and there, however, which can overpower the meal with which they’re served. The baby turnips you find in the spring months, at their peak between June and July, are best purchased when they have bright green leaves attached to their roots.
As well as the minerals and vitamins within the turnip itself, mostly represented by vitamin C, the green parts of the turnip root have a healthy dose of added calcium and folic acid. Turnips should also feel dense and heavy in relation to their size; the younger the turnips are, bought more closely to the start of the spring, the sweeter they will taste.
If all this talk of delicious, nutritious seasonal produce has got your mouth watering and your tummy rumbling, then you’re in luck. Right now, Buffalo Market is offering our premium selection of peak season produce at a $20 discount: shoppers can enjoy a crate of the best-quality organic roots and vegetables available anywhere in California, and for just $40.
Delivering direct to your door, we nurture long-standing relationships with small-scale independent farmers all over California, ensuring every bit of our stock is as fresh as it can be – and all yours at the most competitive prices. With over 2,600 items in our constantly expanding inventory, we also provide wholesale goods to keep your larders stocked at the lowest possible price. Take a look at what we have today and enjoy the best of what the season has to offer.