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Eating with the Seasons, Foraging and Buying Locally Sourced Ingredients

I have found that using the best ingredients often yields the best results in the kitchen. Now here, best doesn't necessarily mean expensive - it can even mean free in some instances depending on your enthusiasm and effort. Fiddleheads, for example, are quite expensive at a grocery store or farmer's market, but are free if you forage them yourself (I did this for the first time this year and will be making it an annual exercise).

Whenever you are foraging for food, make sure that you do a little research in advance so that you don't end up bringing home anything toxic/poisonous. I am far from an expert, but a quick test I have done in the past is to bring the foraged food to the tip of my tongue (no chewing or swallowing - just touch the tip!) and if I feel a numbing or tingling sensation, I know it is likely not safe for consumption and will leave it on the forest floor.

So, what makes one strawberry superior to another strawberry? Why do so many people push eating 'local'? Well, a lot of it comes down to logistics and if a strawberry - or whatever plant you are looking at - got to ripen on the vine or if it was picked before it was ready and force ripened later. The further away you are getting your food from, the further it has to travel to get to you - very straight forward. Have you ever thought about how food production companies are able to achieve this? The further away it comes from, the more likely it was picked prematurely so that it won't spoil while travelling. Have you ever tried an unripe strawberry? It is not sweet at all. It is rather starchy - its actually mostly starch. The starches convert to natural sugars as it ripens on the vine. This is one of the reasons why food that ripens on the vine tastes better than food that was picked prematurely.

This is why buying local is often better. It is wonderful to support local farmers and businesses. It is wonderful to buy products from people who care about what they are producing. It is also wonderful to get a superior product that was allowed to ripen on the vine because it has less of a distance to travel to get to you. By eating with the seasons and choosing to eat locally sourced and grown products, your food will taste better.

The same goes for growing your own food. If you have the space and ability to start your own vegetable or herb garden, you can ensure that the food you're eating can ripen on the vine and be pesticide/chemical free. It's also a great way to save money! Whoever coined the term 'money doesn't grow on trees' has definitely never had their own vegetable garden.

Another wonderful aspect of using quality, ripe ingredients is that simplicity shines. The above fiddleheads were blanched in boiling water for a few minutes, transferred into ice water to stop the cooking process and help them keep their brilliant green colour, and then transferred into a pan and were sautéed with fresh garlic, salt and pepper for a couple minutes. That's it. They didn't need anything else because they were perfectly ripe.

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