If, like our frugal foremothers, youre into preserving, nows the time to mobilize. You can buy up berries for jam, freeze pitted cherries for future pies, pickle zucchini, turnips, garlic and beets, and put up enough pesto to see you well beyond tomato season. Or take the modern approach to seasonality, and eat up while the getting is good.
What to Look For
Orach, a.k.a. mountain spinach, has been enjoyed since at least Shakespearean times. Referred to by the Bard as saltbush, it has deep maroon stems that do indeed seem to harbor salt, and pointed leaves that are green on their undersides and purple-red on top. Saut the leaves and thinner stems for a healthful, spinachlike treat, or shred them raw to add character to salads ($2 per bunch at Gorzynski, available Saturday).
The blueberry-size sweet black cherries at Eckerton Farm come from an old tree that was on the property before the Eckertons were. Deep black, tart, tender, and full-flavored, they are too small to pit. Instead, serve them on their stems as a whimsical garnish for a mild cheese or a dessert featuring larger cherry varieties like Bing or Rainier ($4 per half-pint at Eckerton, available Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday).
Green shallots, the fresh spring rendition of the oniony little bulb, look like oversize scallions. The green tops can be used as a spicy garnish, while the sweet white base is wonderful raw in vinaigrettes, and divine sliced thinly and fried in oil until crispy and brown. Fry up a heap to top grilled steak ($2 per bunch at Keiths, available Wednesday and Saturday).
White beets are not radically different tasting than your typical red beet, though some have a more mineral, less cloying tendency. What really sets them apart is the fact that they wont stain your counter, cutting board, and hands as you peel and slice them. Try these manicure-friendly roots in a salad with goat cheese, or layer them with fancy gold and candy-strip varieties to show off your beet cred ($2 per bunch at Migliorelli, available Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday).
Blink and Youll Miss It
Sour cherries, which come in light and dark red varieties, are perfectly pitched for sweet-tart, fruit-filled pies. They make a bracingly delicious sorbet too, and you can even infuse them in vodka. Whatever your pleasure, act fast because birds pursue these fruits with even more rapacity than humans, and well be lucky if there are any left in three weeks (widely available at the market for the next week or two). Zoe Singer