The satisfying crunch of garden-fresh corn, drippingly juicy plump tomatoes straight from the vine and the riotously bold colours of sunflowers and gladiolas…these are just a few reasons why August is one the best times to visit a farmers’ market or roadside garden stand. Late summer offers foodies not only seasonal bounties like garlic, apples and potatoes, but also year-round staples like squeaky cheese curds, locally raised meats and fresh bread. This time of year it is possible to do nearly all of your grocery shopping while wandering the stalls of farmers’ markets throughout the region.
Want to eat like a local? Look for these seasonal favourites the next time you are at the market or cruising the countryside.
The first potatoes of the season are being harvested right now! Tender fingerling or baby potatoes are full of flavour, hearty Russets are perfectly baked on the barbecue and blue-skinned heritage varieties make a visually interesting addition to that potluck classic, potato salad. Kingston Public Market boasts seven potato vendors from across the region, and with the market being open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, there’s a good chance potatoes will be on your plate tonight!
Nothing says summer like fresh corn on the cob, and bins at ever nearby farmers’ market is brimming with straight-of-the-stalk corn. Grilled and then slathered in fresh butter with a sprinkling of chopped chives is my favourite way to enjoy corn, but you can dress up or dress down this summer staple in an endless number of ways.
Much of the garlic you buy at farmers’ markets is dried to help preserve it, but nothing beats the pungent bite of garlic fresh from the field. Early season garlic is available now and adds a kick to salad dressings, marinades, salsas, and pickles. Garlic lovers will not want to miss the Eastern Ontario Garlic Festival, Local dishes, produce, and of course, garlic will be celebrated at this family-friendly event.
Vibrantly coloured tomatoes are popping up at farmers’ markets in The Great Waterway. A pint of succulent cherry or grape tomatoes makes a perfect addition to a picnic lunch and heartier varieties hold up well when grilled and added to sandwiches. Savour the flavour of vine-ripened Romas by bringing home a bushel and preserving them to enjoy over the winter. You’ll never buy canned tomatoes again! Roots Down Organic Farm at the Gananoque Farmers’ Market grows over 60 heirloom varieties!
When shopping for apples, don’t overlook the tiny but mighty crabapple! The sour flavour of these ruby-hued beauties is transformed when cooked into a chutney, butter, cider or jelly. Early season crabapples are ripe for the picking now, either at a local orchard or roadside, farm stands as Farmhouse Eats in Picton.
Sure, you could pair your local food with a locally brewed ale or flavourful wine, but I think your meal could be made just as memorable with the perfect centrepiece. A bouquet of dramatic gladiolas and vibrant sunflowers is a beautiful addition to your table or picnic blanket.
From artisanal cheeses to locally-produced wines, South Eastern Ontario has a flavour for every palate. Chances are your new favourite food is just waiting to be discovered.