April 2016 Feature - Spring Produce Sakura Blossoms - Diversivore.com

April Feature – The First Spring Produce

In Monthly feature by SeanLeave a Comment

Every month, Diversivore launches two new thematic features. This month’s Ingredient Page feature is all about the first produce of spring (with a special focus on the wild foods!). Keep coming back for updates and recipes related to this theme, or subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out on anything new.

I know that the expression is “spring is in the air,” but as far as I’m concerned, spring is in the ground. Here in the Vancouver area spring is in full, riotous bloom, but like all good prairie-transplants, I know that much of the country is still just beginning to emerge from the dregs of winter. And what better to celebrate than by paying a little extra attention to the first tender shoots and stems that manage to poke their way through the sun-warmed earth?

For the growing number of people who try to eat relatively local, spring also means the welcome return of fresh, delicate ingredients. Farmers’ markets are suddenly packed with tender greens, rhubarb stalks, new potatoes, garlic scapes and more. But as wonderful as this produce is, it’s rather easy to miss out on; a lot of spring foods are not end-products in the way that mature fruits or vegetables are, but rather the tender early stages of plants that will soon be in full summery display. Asparagus and artichokes are both wonderful examples – the former is a tender stalk that must be picked before it takes off and turns into an enormous branching plant, while the latter is a flower bud that must be harvested before opening up into a tough purple thistle. The produce of spring is almost entirely ephemeral, and our opportunities to capture and experience it are wonderful but short-lived.

This month’s theme also gives me the chance to tackle a topic I’ve had a strong interest in for some time now – wild food. Foraging has become rather trendy in the last few years (not that I’m complaining), but I think there are a lot of cooks out there who don’t realize just how easy it is. Nettles, miner’s lettuce, Japanese knotweed, wild mustard and more are all common and at their most delicious in the spring. You can expect some new ingredient pages and recipes dedicated to some of these amazing wild foods. You can also expect good, science-based advice surrounding the safety of foraging (a topic of perennial for those considering getting into wild food). But even if you don’t want to find your own food, I strongly encourage you to come back and check out the features and recipes, as many wild ingredients are starting to show up in farmers’ markets and specialty grocers.

As always, I like to cast a pretty wide net with these features, so you expect to see some ideas and ingredients that might not have occurred to you before. The cherry blossom banner is a great example – those wonderful little pink petals are not only pretty to look at, they’re pretty on the plate and the palate.

Curious about a particular springtime ingredient? Have questions about wild foods or foraging? Let me know in the comments, or send an email to [email protected], and don’t forget to subscribe and/or follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as this month’s features start to roll out.

As a final side-note, things are starting to grow inside too – this spring feels especially ‘springy’ for me, as Diversivore turned 4 months old on the 1st, and every month has just been better and better! Thanks to everyone who’s followed along, discovered the site, and supported me through the first quarter. Happy spring everyone!

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