Published: 06:00, 07 June 2021
Our desire for fresh, local fare grew in the pandemic and Kent's farmers' markets are thriving.
Here, Kent-based former MasterChef winner, chef and food writer Julie Friend gives the latest market news and tips.
Blooming June would normally be the month when the Garden of England really earns its name.
Growers and producers will be at full stretch but with the heavy rains of May, everything will be ripening a little later than anticipated. As the county responsible for supplying all the berries for Wimbledon, unsurprisingly our markets will be full of jewelled coloured punnets. Strawberries and raspberries will hopefully have had some sun but with May such a wash-out, many growers will be depending upon the warmth of a polytunnel.
Crush some with a fork, add a squeeze of lemon and pinch of sugar to bring out the juices and serve with local cream and crumbled meringue for Eton Mess. Or pack them into a bowl, lined with thinly sliced white bread for a vitamin C-boosting summer pudding.
Early broad beans, mange tout and peas are appearing and together make a delicious salad. Quickly blanched and dressing with local rapeseed oil, lemon juice and some torn mint leaves, they make for a wonderful lunch - why not crumble on some Kentish Blue cheese?
Crab is great right now and several stalls such as Arcade Fisheries and Botterells sell them picked and prepared. As the waters around our coast begin to warm, mackerel and sardines will be abundant and need just a quick burst of heat under the grill or on the barbecue to enhance their flavour. Tangy gooseberries are a great accompaniment.
On Saturday, June 5 Penshurst market celebrated its 16th birthday; Shipbourne is back in its original home of the church and grounds on Thursdays too.
We also hope to have a new venture at Biggin Hill opening this month along with the Whitstable Castle Artisan offering and East Dean farmers' market, near Eastbourne.
For details of all Kent’s farmers’ markets and special events, visit kfma.org.uk