Plovgh is a cooperative of farmers, growers, and ranchers that sell directly to their customers.
Peaches (Prunus persica)
Varieties: Donut & Yellow Flesh
Samascott Orchards, Kinderhook NY
Harvesting date: August 2013
More than 80 chemical compounds contribute to the peach aroma.
Peaches are native to China and took many centuries to spread from Greece (300 BC) to North America (16th century). Today there are more than 300 varieties grown in North America alone.
Peach trees grow well in climates where winters are mild and summers are hot. The trees are deciduous and produce flowers in early spring before the leaves. A typical peach cultivar begins bearing fruit in its third year and has a lifespan of about 12 years.
Even though the grocery store treats them as different fruits, peaches and nectarines are the same species. Nectarines have an orange center and faint fuzz, while peaches have white centers and very fuzzy skin. Cultivated peach varieties include White Flesh, Clingstone (flesh clings to pit; softer, sweeter and juicier than Freestone; great for baking), Freestone (flesh doesn’t cling to pit; larger and good for eating out of your hand), Semi-Freestone (a hybrid of Clingstone and Freestone), and Donut (an heirloom variety; flat, white-fleshed, and low in acid).
Peaches are sweet and - depending on the variety - can have an acidy tang.
Like other stone fruits, peaches have a juicy, fleshy exterior with a hard pit inside, and a smaller seed inside the pit. Most of us are accustomed to yellow flesh peaches, which like their name have a golden yellowish skin and yellow flesh. The flesh is very delicate and can bruise easily.
As a late-summer fruit, peaches are great on the grill, in drinks, on salads or as ice cream. Also, you can preserve them to capture that sweet, summer taste for a treat in the middle of winter.
Peach & Blueberry Crostata (Liz Beals of Beth’s Farm Kitchen)
Honey-Sweetened White Peach Jam (Food52)
Peach Gnocchi (101 Cookbooks)
Bourbon Peach Hand Pies (Smitten Kitchen)
Peach Salsa (the Kitchn)
Peach Crumble (Martha Stewart)
Roasted Peach Salad (Tasting Table)
Peach & Pesto Crostini (Love & Lemons)
Love peaches too? Share your favorite recipes in the comments.
Sour Cherries (Prunus cerasus)
Samascott Orchards, Kinderhook NY
Harvesting date: Early July 2013
Catholic and Protestant missionaries planted the first sour cherry trees along Traverse Bay in northwestern Michigan in the 1800s.
Sour cherries are fleeting and have a brief growing season - from around the end of June to the beginning of July. When harvesting, cherries should be soft to the touch as they do not continue to ripen like other fruits once they are picked. Cherries tend to grow in groups because the plant’s flowers bloom from a single focal point which then wilt and become the fruit. The plants prefer a rich, well-drained, moist soil, and require more nitrogen and water than sweet cherries.
When eaten raw they can be pretty tart, but they go well with savory dishes and help balance out sweet recipes.
Cherries are a type of stone fruit - which are fruits that have an outer fleshy part surrounding a pit, such as peaches and apricots. Sour cherries also go by the names tart, wild, and/or pie cherries. Sour cherry trees are shorter than sweet cherry trees and the fruit tends to be a darker red, crimson color to almost near black.
Cherries can be preserved as jams or in liquor, and also keep their flavor when frozen. For fresh cherries, keeping the fruit attached to their stems will keep them fresh longer. If you think pitting is the pits, (yes, we did) try these techniques out and then go make one of these:
Find Samascott Orchard’s sour cherries on the menu at Rose Water Restaurant in Brooklyn.
Tatsoi (Brassica narinosa)
Harvesting: Late May/Early June
An Asian green also known as Spinach mustard, Spoon mustard, or Rosette bok choy.
Part of the brassica family, Tatsoi is a unique and easy to grow green. It is suitable for late spring through autumn sowing. Tatsoi grows low to the ground in cooler climates and In warmer weather grows more upright. Before bolting, the plant will begin to flower and the flavor becomes slightly more bitter.
Mild, mustardy flavor. The stalks are juicy and crisp.
Tatsoi has dense, dark green rounded leaves which form a rosette.
Harvesting: Early June
Scapes are the imature stalks that grow from the garlic bulb. Also known as garlic shoots or spears.
The garlic plant goes through many iterations. It is planted at the end of the season before winter, hibernates and then begins sprouting in the spring. It is not ready to be harvested until the summer and must then be cured for long term storage. But, in between this period the scapes and young (or spring) garlic are harvested and prepared. Garlic scapes are harvested early in the season so that the garlic bulbs will grow bigger.
Scapes are bright, fresh and can have a milder taste than the cloves.
Thin and loopy, garlic scapes resemble a leafless spear. Mature scapes have 1 or 2 loops and are firm with about 1/4 inch diameter.
Pick a bunch up at Foragers Market in Brooklyn.
Harvesting: Early April
Chevre means goat in French. Unlike cows, goats browse rather than graze and eat all sorts of grasses, weeds and shrubbery that influence the flavor of their milk.
Generally, cultures are added to the fresh milk as a curdling agent and the curds are allowed to separate from the whey. It can be made into a “bag cheese” or molded for a couple of days or aged in a cheese cave for longer. Salt can then be added to the curd.
The flavor of chevre can totally vary according to the season and what the goats are munching on at the time they are milked. In the early spring the cheese tends to be more mild and become more goaty or gamey in the fall. The chevre Joyce produces with the spring milk is fresh and creamy and is a little tart and grassy.
As with flavor, the texture of chevre tends to vary depending on how it is produced. Some are white and smooth with a consistency similar to cream cheese, some are crumbly, and some are aged and therefore firm and have a more yellowy color. Sometimes they are creafted into a log shape and rolled with fresh herbs or spices.
Acorn Hill Farm chevre is being served up on cheese plates at Tuffet in Brooklyn. Get yours here.
Mizuna (Brassica rapa nipposinica)
Harvesting: Starting late May
Mizuna has many names including: kyona, Japanese mustard, potherb mustard, California peppergrass, and spider mustard. Whichever you choose, Mizuna stands for “water greens” because it is grown in fields that are shallowly flooded with water. (Food52)
Mizuna is a unique mustard green that has been cultivated in Japan for ages, but likely originated in China. The plant produces dozens of pencil thin white stalks with deeply cut, fringed leaves. Mizuna is highly resistant to cold and can be grown extensively during the winter months. It is usually harvested from early to late summer.
LIke a toned down arugula, mizuna has a mild peppery/spicy flavor. It is crisp when eaten fresh.
Even if you’ve never heard of it, you may have already been indirectly introduced to Mizuna as it is often used in mesclun mixes. It comes in green and purple varieites and has narrow stalks with smooth feathery leaves.
Since we’re rekindling our love for fresh herbs and greens here on the east coast, this seems like a good go-to recipe. If you’re not going the raw route, you can toss it in a stir fry, add it to Nabemono or sauté it. Similar to spinach, when Mizuna is cooked it shrinks to about half its size - so be sure to buy extra.
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
Harvested: Late April 2013
Asparagus was used in recipes dating as far back as third-century AD, and many societies identified ways of preserving it for consumption during colder seasons.
Asparagus is a perennial and one of the earliest producing spring vegetables. It can be easily grown from the crowns or roots and can take up to 3 to 4 years before a mature plant is established for harvesting - but it can be harvested for years after planting once mature. A fully grown plant can resemble a fern with thin spears. It is unique in that it can tolerate broad temperature variations; it grows in the Imperial Valley of Southern California, where temperatures can reach 115° F, and it grows in Minnesota, where temperatures can plunge to -40° F.* In the northeast they are generally harvested from late March through June.
Aspargus spears should be tender and sweet. This is the best way to tell they are freshly harvested.
There are hundreds of varieties, but often asparagus has smooth stalks with compact crowns and can come in colors like white, green and purple. Spears can range in size based on the time they are harvested.
Only young asparagus shoots are eaten since once the buds of the plant start to open, the shoots quickly turn woody. Prep is easy: just trim off the bottoms of the spears. Then, enjoy them raw, fried, blanched, or simply roasted. Throwing them on the grill is also encouraged.
You can find Samascott Orchard’s Asparagus this week at Greene Grape Provisions in Brooklyn.
Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)
Good Fence Farm
Harvested: Early May 2013
When it comes to rhubarb it seems that people either love it or hate it. It struggles with its self-identity; vegetable or fruit? Sweet or savory? And though this spring has been slow to arrive, pushing the anticipated harvest time back a few weeks, we’re happy to say that time is here.
The Chinese have used rhubarb as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. Its presence in Europe was established when it was imported along the Silk Road. (A historical form of trade we are fans of here at Plovgh.)
Rhubarb is a seasonal plant that can grow in many areas. In temperate climates it is one of the first food plants ready to be harvested, usually around April/May in the Northern Hemisphere and October/November in the Southern Hemisphere. Ready-to-harvest, mature rhubarb can be pulled from the plant with a gentle tug. Stalks should not be harvested during the first growing season to allow the plant to become established, and after the first 3 years the harvesting period runs approximately 8-10 weeks long.
Freshly harvested, raw stalks are crisp and have a tart flavor. Red rhubarb varieties such as ‘Valentine’ and ‘Crimson Cherry’ tend to be more tender.
Rhubarb has short, thick roots, large leaves and long, fleshy stalks. The stalks of a rhubarb plant are usually a crimson red, but can vary from deep reds and pinks to pale green.
Quite often, rhubarb is used in bakes goods such as crisps, pies and tarts. You can also preserve it as jams or by pickling. Or, use it in your new favorite cocktail.
Note: Be sure to only eat the stalks, as the leaves of a rhubarb plant contain poisonous toxins.
Ramps (Allium tricoccum)
Harvested: May 2013
The ramp, also known as the wild leek, is the alliums’ herald of spring. It is a fleeting introduction to a new season and a foraged onion that has the ability to throw people into a frenzy.|Learn|
Wild ramps have close ties with the folklore of the central Appalachian Mountains. In the region, they have long celebrated spring with the arrival of the ramp, believing it to have great power as a tonic used to ward off the ailments of winter.|Cultivate|
Ramps are members of the lily family and a perennial plant. They grow in groups strongly rooted just beneath the surface of the soil. They don’t take well to traditional farming, but grow wildly as far north as Quebec, as far south as Georgia, and as far west as Oklahoma.|Taste|
Ramps have a peppery taste and a pungent aroma that is a mix of onions and garlic.|Identify|
Ramps have broad, smooth, light green leaves, often with deep purple or burgundy tints on the lower stems, and a scallion-like stalk and bulb. Both the white lower leaf stalks and the broad green leaves are edible.|Prepare|
I’ll be darned if I get another plastic bin of anonymous spinach that’s a little sopped from its journeys. The more you think about it, the more you want greens that are full of life. And if you want lively greens, they’d better not spend very much time out of the field.
So, go to Foragers Market, Greene Grape Provisions, and Rose Water this week to find crops that got to the city within hours of leaving the farms. Taste that Thai Basil for me, people.
Hydroponic Lettuce Mix, Thai basil, and sweet basil
Aqua Vita Farms - Sherrill, New York
Free range eggs
Fitzgerald Farms - Kerhonkson, New York
Onions, shallots, cippolinis
Glebocki Farms - Goshen, New York
Grassfed and finished beef brisket
Good Fence Farm - Fort Edward, New York
If you have any questions please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.