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What's in season?
What's in Season

Here's what's in season at the farmers' market in March

As March progresses the daylight increases by more than two hours from the dark days of winter so that, by the end of the month, we will once again be enjoying days that are longer than nights. Once the clocks go forward on 29th March, it really feels like spring is properly underway.

For market visitors this month, what’s on offer can seem rather restricted as we wait for kinder weather conditions for animals and crops which will respond to the increasing light and warmth with bounty to come. March historically was known as the hunger gap or famine month but it’s really a great opportunity to make most of the last of the winter and enjoy all those wonderful comfort foods and warming treats before they disappear again till the last quarter of the year.

Fruit and veg
Cabbages, cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, leeks and kale are all good. They need little cooking and are really at their best simply shredded and steamed. For something different try them quickly stir-fried with garlic, ginger and chilli as an accompaniment to good local sausages. Cauliflower goes really well with curry spices so try it in vegetable curries, soups and fritters or in a puree as a base for scallops grilled with cubes of black pudding.

Beautiful pink forced rhubarb is really the only locally grown fruit around now but the season for the fine ‘champagne’ season is short so make the most of it. Use in fools, ice creams and sauces – it goes particularly well with a large pinch or two of ginger. Or make up batches of rhubarb compote and freeze in pots for later in the year. And don’t forget it makes wonderful cakes – crumble topped, or upside down, with almonds or ginger. Serve as a pud with ice cream or keep for the tea tray. Local apples are still good as the storing varieties go on delivering flavour and texture until April.

And don’t forget... to stock up on the jams, jellies and chutneys made using this winter’s produce to keep you going over the next few months – you will find old favourite flavours such as rhubarb and ginger and quince, with many hedgerow jams and jellies and many more unusual offerings to tempt you into buying. Why not try a locally baked cake or sweet tart this month when the range of seasonal fruit is limited? Cold weather, the arriving spring, the first daffodil – they all make a great excuse to celebrate with local produce, if you really need one!

Meat and game
For meat eaters, pork is an excellent choice this month and it’s still ideal weather to enjoy a hearty roast on Sunday with all the family. Try a shoulder joint for the best combination of flavour and texture. Or what about that eternal family favourite – a roast chicken? A slow grown bird has more flavour and better texture and goes really well with roast wedges of potato tossed in cold pressed rapeseed oil and a sprinkling of ground ginger before cooking. Serve with purple sprouting broccoli. Another interesting alternative to chicken would be Guinea fowl. Don’t waste the carcase once you eaten the meat off the bones, it will make great stock for using in soups, sauces and risottos. Put the carcase and bones in a large pan with an onion, carrot, celery stick, bay leaf and bunch of herbs, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer very gently for an hour. Strain, pour into containers for freezing.
This is the end of the season for many game birds but rabbit and wood pigeon are both good eating now. If you haven’t had venison this winter, try some now maybe in burgers or sausages, served with steamed kale and mashed root veg,

Fish and seafood
For fish lovers, sea bass is a good choice this month. Try a wonderful warming fish stew using a combination of cod, mussels and clams in a risotto or soup. Kent and Sussex scallops are at their finest now so enjoy one of the great pleasures of the season.

What's Cookin'

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WI Cookbook

celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI

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Why buy seasonal food?