Spring produce and herbs
Ways to incorporate fresh produce this spring season.
Spring brings the endless task of cleaning hard to reach spots and is a good time to clean your pantry. You may be thinking – wiping down cupboards, throwing out stale food, cleaning and organizing your cupboards – all of which are important. You can reference cleaning tips in the Michigan State University Extension article titled Kitchen spring cleaning. There is, however, another take on spring cleaning that you may not be thinking about.
With the change in season, comes awaited fresh produce. Those long, winter months that we savored hot soups and stews, which may have required hours in the kitchen are not always desired as the weather warms and we spend more time outdoors. Enjoy spring produce by making fresh salads or using herbs to spice up a routine dish, such as adding fresh basil to pasta.
Michigan Fresh is a reference through MSU Extension that offers information on the availability of produce grown in Michigan, details on the varieties of individual items, tips on preserving them, as well as food storage and safety recommendations. Some produce to consider as we approach the first of the spring harvest season are listed below.
- Radishes: work great in salads, but can also be pickled and used as a condiment or side dish.
- Spring greens: enjoy fresh greens in salads or as an addition to your favorite sandwich. This is a great way to increase your antioxidant consumption as greens are packed with many nutrients – the darker the better.
- Herbs – are flavorful additions to many recipes, including salads, and can be dried for later use, added to vinegars or oils or even used as potpourri
- Asparagus: asparagus can be eaten fresh, grilled or steamed, but can also be canned, pickled or frozen to preserve for later use.
- Strawberries: one of the early season fruits available in Michigan. Once washed, strawberries can be eaten independently. They’re also great in salads, fruit salsa, homemade ice-cream, as a topping or in a pie. The list could go on for this versatile fruit.
- Rhubarb: while this fruit is bitter if unsweetened, it is a wonderful addition to pies, cakes, muffins or shortcake. Rhubarb can be preserved easily for later use as well.
The Michigan Availability guide is a great reference to check on when Michigan produce is in season. As the weather warms, and border states also harvest produce, we can enjoy a greater variety and longer season of fresh produce at a more reasonable cost. Refresh your plate with the bounty of produce that is in season – all while maximizing your intake of vital nutrients!