Keene State College held its 28th annual Founders Day event on Thursday, May 14th. This event is a day of workshops and classes for all employees of the college to show appreciation for the hard work they put in throughout the year. Its name represents the employees who are considered the “foundation” for the college to function as a successful institution.
The Monadnock Food Co-op was proud to be invited to hold a cooking demo, and fittingly, the chosen theme was Cooking with Local Produce. Led by Registered Dietitian Erica Frank, three seasonal vegetables were chosen: fiddleheads, rhubarb, and asparagus.
Fiddleheads are the young coiled fronds of the ostrich fern identified by the brown papery scales covering the uncoiled fern, as well as the smooth fern stem, and the deep U-shaped groove on the inside of the fern stem. They are found on the banks of rivers, streams, and brooks in late April, May, and early June. The Co-op’s supply of fiddleheads is harvested in Vermont. Fiddleheads must be cooked before eating, and are typically steamed or boiled before being added to stir-fries, soups, omelets, or simply enjoyed all by themselves. Keep refrigerated in a bag for up to two weeks until you are ready to cook or preserve them. Fiddleheads can also be frozen after cooking to be used at a later time.
Good source of: Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, some B Vitamins, and Manganese.
Rhubarb can be found in almost everyone’s backyard garden. It can be harvested from late winter to early spring with peak season from April to June. Only the stalks are edible, and some people eat them raw! If you like tart food, raw rhubarb is for you. A quick and easy way to use rhubarb is to make a sauce for use on yogurt, ice cream, or pancakes. When shopping for rhubarb, look for thin, red, crisp stalks – they will have the best texture. If stalks are floppy, it indicates they were picked too long ago. Store by wrapping in plastic and refrigerate for up to one week, or cut up and freeze for later use
Good source of: Potassium, Vitamin C, and Calcium
Asparagus season can run from April to June in the Northeast, depending on weather. Though most people are familiar with the green variety of asparagus, there are actually two other varieties – white asparagus and purple asparagus. White asparagus, with its more delicate flavor and tender texture, is grown underground to inhibit development of chlorophyll content, therefore creating its distinctive white coloring. It is generally found canned, although you may find it fresh at Farmer’s Markets or in some select gourmet shops, and it is generally more expensive than the green variety since its production is more labor intensive.. Purple asparagus is much smaller than the other varieties, (usually just 2 to 3 inches tall) and features a fruitier flavor. It also provides benefits from phytonutrients called anthocyanins which give it its distinctive purple color. (Note: With prolonged cooking, the purple color may disappear). No matter the variety, look for tight heads without flowers and brightly colored stalks for the freshest, best tasting result. Asparagus is best cooked the day it’s purchased, but it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to five days in one of the following ways: Wrap the bottoms of the stalks in a damp paper towel and place in a paper bag and store in crisper; Or stand the bundled stalks in a bowl with about an inch of water.
Good source of: Vitamin C, Vitamin K, several B, Vitamins, Potassium, Iron, and Fiber
Recipe: Asparagus Risotto
Hope you get to try these recipes for some fun with spring produce!