Traverse City Record-Eagle

Life

May 22, 2014

From the Farm: Spring greens aren't only for spring consumption

The term “spring greens” is used in a myriad of ways — referring to everything from baby lettuce salad to leaves associated with spring like pea shoots and nettles.

True spring greens, in my mind, are the first crop of leaves of the season. These are rarely lettuces and usually from the brassica, or cruciferous, family. These greens — tatsoi, bok choy, mustards, mizuna, arugula and kale — are much less sensitive to cold and frost than the greens we grow later in the season, and so can be planted and harvested sooner. Similarly, they are also planted at the end of the season to last into the cold snaps of fall.

At Birch Point Farm, Michelle Ferrarese and Brenin Wertz-Roth started their current growth of greens as seeds in early to the middle March. Under the protection of their heated greenhouse, those seeds grew for a month and were then transplanted to the non-heated hoop house.

Those greens are now ready for sale at the Sarah Hardy Farmers Market on Saturday.

They will be cut on Friday, cooled in water, dried, packaged in bags and brought to the stall. They will last about a week without going yellow and wilty, because the greens are cut so soon before market and do not undergo the stress of long-distance travel.

Several of these greens are familiar to most market goers. Kale has had a recent renaissance as the darling of the leafy green world. And arugula is now as ubiquitous as iceberg lettuce once was. The other greens in the brassica family are not as familiar and so are often passed over at the market stall.

As the season goes on, these greens will develop a much more pronounced flavor and more toothsome texture — though I loathe calling them bitter or tough. As with most things, the younger the being, the less developed the personality.

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