Kayla Blackmore, who is the market manager of Coburg Farmers’ Market, writes about unusual foods that are in season in particular months.
A knobbly, rotund little guy, celeriac can look a bit intimidating to the uninitiated. But actually, it’s easy to prep this root vegetable. Just give it a little scrub, trim the top and bottom with a sharp knife, strip off the outer skin with a vegetable peeler, and trim any recessed parts of the root. Unpeeled and unwashed, it will last for up to three weeks in the fridge, or you can wash, chop and blanch celeriac before popping it in the freezer. The beauty of celeriac is in its versatility: roast it, sauté it, slice it gossamer thin and serve in a salad or alongside cabbage in a coleslaw. I’d argue that there are few ways of cooking it more divine than letting it soften in gently bubbling milk, adding a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon, and blitzing. The end result is a luxuriously creamy and rich puree that features just a hint of nuttiness and aniseed. Best of all, you can make it in advance and simply re-heat.
Celeriac pairs well with roasted meat of all types, pan-seared seafood, or even sautéed oyster mushrooms. You can buy it now at farmers’ markets.
May is the month to get excited about the new season nuts, including walnuts and chestnuts. Is there anything more evocative than the aroma of chestnuts roasting over hot coals? If you don’t own an open fire or barbeque with coals, you can roast your chestnuts in the oven. Heat your oven to 200-220 degrees Celsius. Then score each chestnut shell with an ‘x’ on top and place them on top of a cooling rack that is sitting in an oven tray. Pop into the oven and roast for 15–20 minutes. Your home will be filled with a unique and toasty aroma! Place the warm chestnuts into a tea towel and use this to roll the nuts around inside to remove the skins. Serve warm if you can.
Pine mushrooms (April)
“All the mushrooms that we get and bring to market are wild mushrooms. They cannot be cultivated. That’s what makes them unique and that’s why they’re only at farmers’ markets for a short period of time.” (Vlad, owner of Melbourne Pine Mushrooms). According to Vlad, the best way to store them is on paper trays, which should then be put in paper bags and refrigerated. Tip: pine mushrooms will oxidise and turn a greenish colour when bruised or damaged so handle them with care; however, they are still perfectly fine to eat if they have turned green. They love salt, oil and butter (don’t we all?) and are amazing on toast for breakfast or in a hearty stew or pasta sauce.