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Here's what's in season at the farmers' market in February
If it’s February then it really should be fish on the menu. Buying produce in season ensures you get the best quality at the cheapest price and for fish that means they are also at their most abundant. And these days we want to buy our fish from sustainably managed stocks that are caught or farmed in ways that cause minimum damage to the marine environment..
In February Lemon sole, halibut, skate (more properly called ray), monkfish and sardines are all good, and shellfish fans should keep an eye out for clams, mussels, oysters and cockles. Local Kent and Sussex coast scallops come in this month. Try them wrapped in local streaky bacon and baked or with cooked on a griddle with slices of black pudding or chorizo. Or stir fry with ginger, garlic, shredded pak choi and a dash of soy sauce, or serve on a creamy puree of wonderful seasonal cauliflower.
For meat eaters, game is an excellent choice for seasonal healthy eating. Venison, guinea fowl, wood pigeon, partridge and hare are all good in February. Most modern game is lean and full of flavour so cook steaks or breasts simply on the griddle or quickly stir-fried, or braise tougher cuts or older birds with wine and bacon and serve with pureed celeriac.
For comfort eating try mutton for its rich flavour or a lovely piece of rare breed pork – stuff a shoulder joint with rosemary, garlic and slices of lemon and slow cook for 12 – 14 hours (find a recipe on the internet) for a Sunday celebration .
Serve your meat with steamed kale or Brussels sprouts, both at their best this month. Savoy cabbage and purple sprouting broccoli l work perfectly in stir fries and curries, or serve them simply shredded and steamed tossed with a little seasoning, and a dash of cold pressed rapeseed oil.
Main crop potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and turnips provide the starch that keeps us going in the cold so mash them together to go with your game dishes. Or try a mix roasted in rapeseed oil and scattered with sea salt.
Local fruit is sparse this month but there are still apples to be enjoyed – the storing varieties keep well until April so make sure to go on buying local when you see them. The flavour is still sweet and fragrant for many crops. Early forced rhubarb is the cook’s friend now – wonderful in traditional crumbles, compotes and pies, it also goes well with rich flavoured meat and fish so serve a rhubarb sauce with grilled mackerel or spice it up with Chinese five spice and serve with slow cooked belly pork.
Each month a different farmers' market is featured in Kent Life Magazine along with a seasonal recipe made with local produce HERE>
Why buy seasonal food?