By Jane Reid
April is a month of anticipation. Finally, the weather warms so we can swoon over cherry blossoms and tulips while we turn our faces to soak up the welcome sunshine. We dream of summer and all the carefree joys that it brings. And we look forward to savouring the fresh, new, delicious bounty of another growing season.
Local harvests from last year continue to feed us–frozen BC berries, corn and peas, preserves like pickles or canned peaches, and veggies that hang on for months. What would we do without the rooty stalwarts like BC grown carrots, beets, rutabagas and potatoes to keep us fed all winter? Fall plucked BC apples, stored just above freezing, are still sweet and juicy, while cabbages and crispy skinned onions are still there for us–even in April.
But as they say, April showers bring May flowers—and luscious new things to eat. How we long for something fresh and green to tickle our palates! It’s hard to wait to taste the first harvests out of the ground. Farmers markets do not open until late May to mid-June because Jack Frost can pop in for a surprise night time visit in April. Plants are much happier when he is gone for good.
Meanwhile, we have the easy job. While we wait with anticipation, BC farmers are hard at work. They have to plan their season, choose their crops, tend their soil, plant their seeds, bury their seed potatoes, and baby the young seedlings they have started under cover or in greenhouses. And that is just the beginning. Every year is a bit of a gamble, but out in the field, optimism rules as yet another glorious growing season arrives.
How to enjoy BC harvests while we wait for what is to come? Root vegetables are still in great shape after winter storage, and provide hearty, comforting food to tide us over. For a soup to cozy up to the fireplace one last time, try this satisfying borscht on a chilly rainy April evening:
4 medium BC beets, cooked (see below) and chopped
1 large BC carrot, grated
1/3 head of BC green cabbage, thinly sliced then chopped
1 medium BC onion, chopped
3-4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (bouillon cubes with water will do in a pinch)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 398ml can tomatoes, chopped, with liquid
1 tsp. dried dillweed
1 tsp. sugar
¼ cup white wine vinegar
To cook beets, give them a good scrub and cover with water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer till tender when poked with a fork—1-2 hours. Drain, cool, and peel before chopping. Be prepared for pink hands! (For quick borscht—use 1 x 398ml can baby beets, chopped.)
Combine all ingredients together in a large pot on the stove, bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for one hour.
Serve hot soup topped with sour cream. Yum!
Jane Reid is the author of Freshly Picked: A Locavore’s Love Affair with BC’s Bounty, published by Caitlin Press and released in fall 2018. A passionate locavore, Jane enjoys writing and talking about locally grown BC harvests as well as eating them.