Saturday, July 26, 2014

What's In Season?

Trying to get people to bring period food to events can be difficult. There are many reasons that I have heard why people do not eat appropriate foods at events, "It's too hard" "It's too expensive" "This tastes better"...well.... no.  I have had many meals that require less effort than a sandwich, cost less than a funnel cake, and tastes better than a hot dog. But everyone has their own opinion. 

One easy way to ease someone into period appropriate foods is to take a trip to the farmers market. This can take the fear out of anyone when they are wondering "What on earth can we eat?"
In the Kitchen ,Johannes Engel Masurel, 1866
The great thing about summer is that there is an abundance of fruits & veggies that are in season. Being from NC there's an almost endless list
  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Watermelon
  • Corn
  • Peaches
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Okra
  • Radishes
  • Peppers
  • Pears
  • Grapes
The great thing about this list is that most of it needs little or no cooking at all! Add some bread & cheese and make a spread of any of the above- a great filling, hydrating lunch or dinner for any setting! 

Fall brings another season of bounty! Some summer items are being carried over. 
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Cabbage
  • Turnips
Usually the butchering of fresh meat (beef, pork, etc) would happen late in the fall. The meat would then be salted, smoked & cured for use through the winter. 

  • Collards
  • Turnips
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter Squash
This is a great time for soups & stews that require little meat. Load up on the veggies! 
Making a great soup on a chilly day! 

  • Peas
  • Strawberries
You will want to use up what is left from the root cellar and what was put away for winter use- lots of root veggies, mixed with new spring produce. 
This is also when hens start laying again, so eggs can be added back to the menu! 

All Year
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Lettuce
  • Peanuts
  • Poultry (Chicken, Turkey, Goose)
  • Game meat
Many seasonal items are preserved for use all year. Read more about preservation techniques in V. Mescher's In a Pickle! Types of Food Preservation in the 19th Century.  

Every season will depend based on your geographic location check your local farmers market or produce stands to see what is available just before an event.  If you are able to keep a garden with fresh veggies & herbs keep the 19th century in mind. Period garden guides, such as, The Field and Garden Vegetables of America published in 1865 offers insight into what varieties were available to our 19th century ancestors.