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Celebrate spring! Look for these seasonal ingredients showing up in your local market or garden—asparagus, peas, rhubarb, and even fiddleheads and dandelion blossoms. Make these recipes to greet spring in a delightful and delicious way.
The first day of spring arrives with the vernal equinox! Finally, green things are growing, and there is truly fresh produce to enjoy. Below are recipes based on harvest dates of crops across North America.
Why eat fresh? Eating food at its peak means: better flavor, more nutrition, lower costs, safer food, and a better Earth! Put spring produce on your grocery list!
Fiddleheads are the first wild edible of spring but only last a few weeks. They are the furled fronds of the young ostrich fern, harvested for use as a vegetable. They make great pickles and a delicious vegetable side dish.
Look for fiddleheads in local farmers’ markets. If you forage, fiddleheads are the very top of a young ostrich fern and must be picked before unfurling. Forage with an expert and know exactly what you’re looking for; fiddleheads of most other ferns are toxic, and there are a few species that look similar to the ostrich fern when they’re young.
Fresh peas at the market herald spring’s arrival. Peas add a beautiful green color and delicate taste to any dish, plus they’re packed with nutrients. If you’ve ever had peas raw in the garden, there’s nothing like peas right after they’ve been picked before they turn to starch. Nature’s candy! See more about growing peas.
Spring Tonic, using the early greens of spring, may be just the thing you need to get through this month! The trick to enjoying dandelion greens? Harvest them young with their underground crowns attached, and clean them well. Use them as you would spinach, in salads or soups. One thing to know about dandelions is that they are an important spring flower for bees, so you should only take a small amount from multiple areas. Learn more about cooking with dandelions.
Ah, rhubarb! Sign of spring. We love their bright, tart flavor! Some folks like to sweeten rhubarb with strawberries. Pick rhubarb when the stalks are about 12 to 18 inches long. Don’t eat the leaves, which contain oxalic acid (an irritant). See how to grow rhubarb.
After a long winter, don’t we all live for fresh, tender salad greens? Whether you love romaine or arugula, enjoy these cool-season young leaves when they’re at their freshest. Lettuce is very easy to grow from seed; stagger your plantings every few weeks for a continual harvest. See how to grow lettuce.
Spinach is an iron-rich superfood that must be part of your repertoire. In the spring, spinach appears brighter and greener, and we think the tender leaves are more tasty in the springtime. Baby spinach, which is harvested before it’s mature, is especially delicate. See how to grow spinach.
Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprise that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann