Fresh to the table in March
There are many reasons why it’s best to buy local produce as much as you can. For one thing, there are plenty of local farmers growing fruit and vegetables. Buying from them cuts back on the transportation of food from far-flung places. What’s more, fresh varieties of fruit and vegetables simply taste much better than unripe exotic fruits that have had to be flown in from distant climes. Initially, doing things this may make you feel a bit constrained, but you’ll soon rediscover the sheer variety of local produce, which changes with the seasons.
Of course, there are months when there’s greater choice, and months with less. There’s a wide variety of different sorts of vegetables between June and October. Some types of fruit and vegetables are easy to store, which is why locally grown potatoes, red cabbage and apples, for instance, are available all year round.
We’ve listed the top 3 vegetables for March for you here:
This is one of those vegetables that people either love or hate, but either way, it’s certainly very healthy! The Brussels sprout season gets properly underway in September, but you can get them fresh in the months that follow. That said, March is really the last month of the season for freshly grown sprouts. So make the most of March, as after that you’ll have another six months to wait before fresh sprouts are in bud.
Between September and March
Brussels sprouts grow on thick, straight stems, rather like grapes. One stem can be picked several times. The sprouts are the plant’s buds.
Brussels sprouts are packed with vitamins. They contain lots of vitamin C, along with vitamins B1, B2 and B6. Besides their vitamin content, they provide potassium, phosphorus, folic acid and iron.
Nutritional values per 100 g: 36 kcal; 4 g carbohydrate; 0 g fat; 4 g protein; 4.4 g fibre
Cut crosses into the sprouts on the stem end so that they cook more evenly. Spices such as aniseed, caraway and fennel make them more digestible. You could also try adding a little stock to the boiling water to make them taste less bitter.
Brussels sprouts are best kept in the vegetable drawer of the fridge, where they will remain fine to eat for up to four days.
You shouldn’t store them beside apples, tomatoes or avocadoes, as this will speed up the ripening process.
Brussels sprouts were originally grown near Brussels, hence their name. They have only been cultivated since the 19th century.
Leeks are absolute marvels in cooking. They work well in salads, as vegetable side dishes and as an ingredient for pumping up the flavour in soups. Onions and garlic are closely related to leeks, but neither of them are so mild-tasting yet flavoursome at the same time.
Leeks that have been grown outdoors are harvested between June and March. Leeks grown under glass or plastic are also harvested in April and May.
Wild leek: distinguished by its long, thin shaft and rather pale in colour.
Garden leek: recognisable from its significantly shorter, thick white shaft. The upper part is a dark, sometimes bluish green and long compared to the white part.
100 g leek provides 26 g vitamin C and 1 mg iron. A leek’s nutritional content is particularly beneficial for the intestine and immune system, as its mustard oils stabilise the gut flora.
Nutritional values per 100 g: 26 kcal; 3 g carbohydrate; 0.2 g fat; 2 g protein; 2.4 g fibre
Wash leeks thoroughly before cooking them! The best way of doing this is to cut through them lengthways and then rinse them thoroughly, removing every last fine grain of dirt. You can eat leeks cooked or uncooked. If your stomach tends to be a bit sensitive, try blanching the leek first. Both the white and green parts can be eaten.
Keeps for several days in the fridge. Of course, the longer you keep it for, the more vitamins it will lose.
It is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean region.
Opinions also tend to be divided on this vegetable. Chicory is a rather bitter vegetable, so it won’t be to everyone’s taste. However, it is probably one of the lowest-calorie and low-fat vegetable varieties, which is why it is a firm fixture in many nutritional concepts.
Chicory doesn’t require sunlight to grow, so it can be cultivated all year round, at least in theory. In reality, it is mainly available from October through to April.
White chicory: tastes tart and bitter, but is very tender
Red chicory: a bit sharper in taste, but also milder
The substances that give chicory its bitterness promote stomach and intestinal health. In addition, it provides plenty of vitamins A, B and C, along with potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium.
Nutritional values per 100 g: 16 kcal; 2.3 g carbohydrate; 0.3 g fat; 1.2 g protein; 1.3 g fibre
Give the chicory a brief rinse, and you can prepare it right away. It can be eaten cooked or uncooked. Soaking it in lukewarm water for a few minutes will make it taste less bitter. Avoid chicory with a strong greenish tinge or brown leaves.
Even after harvesting, chicory doesn’t like sunlight, so store it somewhere dark and cool! The more sunlight chicory gets, the bitterer the taste. Chicory should not be kept in the fridge for longer than four days.
Chicory is thought to have originated in Belgium, but it’s not exactly clear. It is primarily grown in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.