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May is the month that the Farmers Markets come into season, like so many fresh greens, they spring up in parking lots and on sidewalks, tables full to overflow with fresh-from-the-earth goodness. How do you transition from shopping the grocery store aisles to allowing the season to guide your menu? We can help. A good plan is to have a few market bags in the back of your car, and maybe even a cooler for milk, cheese, and meats.
Let’s take a look at what’s in season in New York in the month of May.
First up is arugula, a beautiful-to-look-at, peppery green that is great on sandwiches, in salad, or as an alternative to basil in pesto recipes. It isn’t just a salad ingredient though, consider arugula on pizza, like this garlicky mushroom ricotta pizza with arugula included in our Picnics & Farmers’ Market board on Pinterest. You can replace traditional garlic with finely minced garlic scapes, which are also a May harvest.
Asparagus is available in this region in May and June. As people fire up their grills, it can be great right off the grill, dusted with sea salt. It’s great sautéed too, try adding a drizzle of fig balsamic vinegar, which you can find in Lake George or Glens Falls. Asparagus is also incredible with new potatoes, another item you’ll find in May.
Chard is another early season offering. It is related to beets, but rather than a root, it has tender leaves and crunchy stalks. It might seem intimidating to try something you are unfamiliar with, but this recipe for spicy chard with bacon and polenta will help ease you in to things.
Fiddleheads—Chances are you’ve probably seen them on Adirondack hikes, but did you know that you could eat them? A fiddlehead is essentially an immature fern frond, which means they are only available for a brief window of time, in our case April and May. The texture can be likened to a cross between asparagus and a green bean. Their charm is unmistakable with their loopy appearance. Try with a cream sauce and linguini!
You don’t like to cook you say? How about an early season cocktail? You start with Rhubarb. Stay with us, it may sound strange, but it’s divine. You’ll use the rhubarb stalks to create a simple syrup, all you’ll need is a pan, a strainer, a glass and a bit of patience. Oh, and whiskey! New York produces fine whiskey’s year round, from the quite popular Widow Jane and Hudson Whiskeys (both available for purchase locally) to local favorites from Springbrook Hollow Farm Distillery and Lake George Distillery.
Next up you’ll need mint. We suggest carrying the mint home from the market in your hands so that for the rest of the day you can enjoy the clean scent of mint. This will be a garnish for your cocktail, but it’s also fun to mince and sprinkle in yogurt or on top of fresh vanilla ice cream.
We have barely scraped the surface on what you can do with what you find at the market, but the greatest secret we can give you is this: talk to the farmers and vendors. These are real people who spend their lives producing food, it is their absolute joy to help you figure out how to best use what they have to offer. Even if you go home empty handed, a trip to any farmers’ market is an experience that will put a smile on your face and a spring in your step!