Embracing seasonal change is a major part of Arctic identity. Thanks to our Northern latitude, we Alaskans experience a huge shift as we swing from one season to the next. We live in a land drenched with summer sun, that then lies mostly in shade for the slow stretch of winter. Our day transforms itself from ineffably long to fleetingly short. Autumn is the midpoint -- that time of the even-handed equinox, when day and night hang briefly in balance.
At Wild Scoops, we celebrate seasonal change by centering our ice cream flavors around ingredients as they become available. We do this at every point of the year: we use warming spices when winter’s chill sets in, zippy new spruce tips as they emerge in spring, and ripe red rhubarb at the start of summer.
As for fall, the abundance of ingredients this time of year is a true cornucopia of delights. A trip to the farmers market makes this evident: local growers are harvesting everything from earthy beets to effervescently-fronded fennel. Does this sound strange in the context of ice cream? Maybe you’ve never had a dessert flavored by a root vegetable! That unfamiliarity is one of the major gifts of trying to eat seasonally. By intentionally seeking out produce that is at its peak now, you expose yourself to things you’ve never tried before.
And then there are the more familiar favorites of fall: berries. In Alaska, we can’t grow the variety of fruits that milder regions enjoy. However, we take special pride in what manages to thrive. Hence the local love for cold-hardy berries! From blueberries and cranberries to salmonberries and gooseberries, these fruits lead to some exciting ice cream pairings. Right now, we are featuring black and red currants. Whether pureed to give color and flavor to a smooth base (Currant Events) or used to add tartness to our vegan coconut ice cream (Coconut Red Currant) or made into a jam-like sauce that is exquisite with walnut shortbread (The Autumn), we can’t get enough of these edible gems!
When you choose to eat seasonally, you are doing more than eating what’s available to you. You are specifically rejoicing in the bounty of the moment -- the harvest that is happening at the time and place where you live. Seasonal food means being attuned to your environment. It means being aware of what’s happening outside the walls of your home. It means being committed to using of food at its freshest and finest.
There are sacrifices too, of course. Using seasonal ingredients means making peace with the fact that some of your favorite foods won’t be available whenever you want them. But, sure as this summer will end, another will come again next year. And in the meantime, saying goodbye to the taste of summer means welcoming the fresh flavors of fall.
- Nicole Emanuel, Staff Writer