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Kent farmers' markets' news for July by former MasterChef winner Julie Friend

Our desire for fresh, local fare continues to thrive.

Here, Kent-based former MasterChef winner, chef and food writer Julie Friend gives the latest market news and tips.

Winterdale cheeses
Winterdale cheeses

Cucumbers, beetroots, crunchy green leaves and baby root vegetables will also be coming through as salad season is well upon us. Raw beets, simply grated with carrots and some fresh herbs (chives, parsley and tarragon work well together) will make the most vibrant coleslaw once dressed with a little oil and vinegar or a spoon of crème fraiche.

Why not make a point of trying a new local cheese too? We have some great artisan makers at the markets such as Kingcott Dairy with their popular blues, Winterdale Shaw with their cheddar style cheese and the Cheesemakers of Canterbury with their award-winning Ashmore range and Kelly’s of Canterbury goat.

And with good cheese you need great bread. If you are into sourdough then you must try the breads from either Bakehouse124 or Teston Bakery. These bakers work with aged ‘starters’ naturally yeast free leavening mixes, to make their delicious crusty loaves often including seasonal ingredients such as wild garlic and local cobnuts. And for baked goods with an Italian twist look out for Enzo’s Bakery – their ricotta and spinach pies are something else.

Bakehouse124 goodies on sale at Penshurst farmers' market
Bakehouse124 goodies on sale at Penshurst farmers' market

Berries and currants will continue to be abundant and alongside them some of the early stone fruit will appear. Cherries, of course, have been a staple of Kentish roadside stalls for many years, but did you know we are now growing apricots in the county? In fact, my garden overlooks a huge orchard of Italian ‘albicocca’ trees in West Kent and I have to say, the plentiful crop has surprised me. What next – pineapples?

Poaching fruit is a great way to add some extra tenderness to them, and also to infuse flavours. Apricots would work well with bay or thyme or perhaps let some cherries simmer away in a local red wine. Served with crème fraiche and crumbly shortbread and you have a simple but impressive dessert.

And if you are into your sweet things, we have had some new stallholders join us recently. Penny Licks are making a range of ice cream and frozen desserts. Nick Salman of the Naughty But Nice Chef will be tempting you with fresh doughnuts and you won’t want to miss the chocolates and truffles from Ira Harris from Patisserie Lingaud.

* For details of all Kent's markets, stallholders and special events visit kfma.org.uk

For more Food and Drink news across Kent click here.

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