By Diana Matthews | Photography by Sunny Frantz
Why should you care about incorporating seasonality into your baking and cooking? Experimenting can broaden culinary horizons and expose taste buds to new and exciting flavors. In fact, you might fall in love with something you’ve never tried before! Here’s a few tips on using fresh fruits, veggies and herbs in creative ways.
- Keep your eyes peeled for the arrival of berries at the farmers’ market in early summer. Or find a berry patch and pick your own! I personally love the experience of getting food straight from the source. And if you have kids, make this outing into a fun field trip. Also consider loading up while you shop or scavenge in order to store some fruit for the winter via this method:
Gently wash and pat berries dry. Then spread onto a large cookie sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper and freeze. Once berries are frozen, put them in an airtight bag. This process ensures the berries won’t freeze in a big clump. Also remember that there are many uses for fresh and frozen berries such as crisps, crumbles, muffins, pies, smoothies, fruit and yogurt parfaits and shortcake.
- Pay attention to the foods or drinks that scream “summer” to you. Sweet Tea? Lemonade? Key Lime Pie? Watermelon? Margaritas by the pool? Whatever comes to mind, think about how to use those flavors in new and unexpected ways!
- Notice the local flora and fauna, especially during summer travels. Last spring, my husband and I visited Thailand and took a cooking class. We fell in love with Thailand’s exotic fruits and spices. We were also fortunate enough to be there during mango season, which was delish to say the least. Although passion fruit, lychee and dragon fruit might be difficult to find stateside, make a trip to a local ethnic grocery and/or experiment with flavoring oils to nail the authentic taste you seek.
- Don’t limit yourself to just fruits. Make use of veggies and herbs too. Carrots, zucchini, beets—and even avocados—are often used in baking. Lavender, rosemary, basil and mint are a handful of my personal baking faves. Extracts and culinary essential oils are also effective at imparting flavor into cakes and icings. Plus I recommend garnishing your creation with a fresh sprig of the selected herb or an edible flower for extra pizazz!
For more seasonal baking inspo, visit my online blog and gallery at: todiforbaking.com.