Chuck Berry and Katy Perry weren’t wrong. California does plenty of things just fine. Citrus? Yep. Avocados? Sure. Olive oil? Yeah. That, too. But there are certain foods that just don’t travel the way that bottles and thick-skinned fruits do. This week, Philadelphians can celebrate the arrival of one particular fruit that California might hold the monopoly on–but the flavor of which, when grown locally, makes “the golden state” seem a little bit tarnished…
Strawberries – That’s right, people, I’m talking about strawberries. These favorites, which always seem to be featured as part of horrifying Fourth of July desserts, actually arrive far earlier in the growing season here than some folks realize. By the time the Fourth rolls around strawberries will be long gone and you’ll have to use raspberries to stripe your Cool Whip-covered American flag dessert monstrosity. Since this is the first week that you’ll see strawberries available, you’ll pay a premium for a quart of them, but the fruit you’ll find will be red throughout and bursting with flavor since area growers can choose strawberry varieties for flavor instead of for the ability to withstand shipping.
Hakurei Turnips – No, turnips are probably not as exciting as strawberries. But give somebody who thinks he doesn’t like turnips a tender, juicy little white marble of a hakurei and he might have a revelation as big as that of eating a local strawberry for the first time. If strawberries are the big-budgeted Hollywood blockbusters of the season, Hakurei turnips are the indie movies that only play in select theatres. Don’t hesitate to pick up a bunch of these moony little roots and their juicy greens if you find them.
Lemon Balm & Flowering Chives – Not all small farms have the benefit of indoor spaces like high-tunnels or hoop houses to kick-start the spring season, but they might still have delicious edibles nonetheless. Stop by Root Mass Farm at Headhouse for a luscious bunch of lemon balm, and keep your eyes out for purple blossoming chives or fat bunches of garlic chives.
Apples – The apples that you’ll see at market this week aren’t new and they surely can’t hold a candle to the hyperventilate-worthy excitement of strawberries and rhubarb with their powers combined. But you know what? Local orchards Beechwood, Three Springs, Highland, and Frecon Farm have somehow managed to keep apples that they harvested last fall crispy and delicious until now, hauling boxes of them back and forth all winter long. It’s only fair that we do our part to eat those remaining apples up!
Find something great at your local market? Instagram it and tag accordingly: @foobooz #fooboozthedirt