by Samantha Lande
It’s that time of year when Farmers’ Markets are back in full swing and chefs peruse the very best products. As home chefs, access to these incredible local farmers is available to us, and markets across the country are showcasing the best there is. Unfortunately, many farmers lost a year of offering their products at Farmers’ Market, making it more critical than ever to support your hardworking local farmers.
But what to get? We asked chefs across the country to share with us their picks on what to buy at this year’s market.
Its season may be fleeting, but green garlic is fantastic when preserved to last in the kitchen year-round. Executive Chef Matt Danko at Chicago’s Ace Hotel shares, “This time of year, I most look forward to asparagus and green garlic at the farmer’s market,” he says.
“I like to preserve my green garlic to use in sauces, condiments, charcuterie boards, and things of that nature. I take one of two routes, the first being 2% salt brine out on the counter for a couple of days to ferment with chili flake and fenugreek. The other method is a recipe I learned from a cook, who learned it from one of the best at preserving ingredients, Paul Virant. His method involves caramelizing the garlic in a large pot with sugar and champagne vinegar before pressure canning."
You can try it yourself in our Stock Pot.
Tyler Atkin of Stock restaurant in Philadelphia and Le Cavalier in Delaware is also a fan of green garlic, charring it quickly for vinaigrettes and marinades. He also pickles them, like Danko, following the “the 3:2:1 ratio. By volume, three parts vinegar, two parts sugar, and one part water--with herbs and spices like coriander, dill, dried chilis, black peppercorns, bay leaf, or whatever you have! Pickles and the aromatics you introduce are very forgiving with time.”
When Ryan Prentiss, Heirloom Hospitality’s Culinary Director, is perusing farmers’ markets in Michigan, he’s looking for those things you just have to get -including flowers. He’s not talking roses, but rather the flower versions of some of our favorite herbs and vegetables.
“Chive blossoms, squash blossoms, sage flowers, elderflower, fennel flowers, etc. These aren't uncommon finds at the market, but many people don't realize you can cook with almost every part of those plants. Chives, sage, and fennel flowers make for wonderful and delicately flavored versions of those herbs and can be used to garnish anything you'd normally use chives, sage, or fennel for. Squash blossoms go great on top of homemade pizzas with fresh farmers’ market cheeses.”
Best of the Season Fruit
Executive Chef, Ben Truesdell of Chicago’s Dusek’s Tavern, is scoping out some local fruit for both sweet and savory dishes.
"At Dusek’s, we have a menu that changes with the season, so what we can purchase at farmers’ markets dictates what is featured on our menu. A star product is the sugar cube melons from Illinois’ Nichols Farm, which are some of the sweetest cantaloupes I’ve ever had and are great to mix into salads. I’m also looking forward to getting stone fruit like tango peaches from Michigan's Mick Klug farm since we love to use them in desserts like the cornmeal Galette or in one of our rotating ice cream flavors.”
Chef Michael Hoeneisen of Mas Amor Cantina in Hickory, North Carolina, is scoping out strawberries at the downtown Hickory farmers’ market.
“I find the quality and taste are so much sweeter when you buy them at the farmers’ market versus your local grocery store,” he says. “At Mas Amor Cantina, we use locally grown strawberries as garnishes in our cocktails and for our Tres Leches Cake.”
Try baking a Farmers’ Market fruit dessert in our new French Bakeware.