Many states are commonly associated with their foods and traditional cuisine. Maryland is best known for the blue crab, the bountiful delicacy of the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland agriculture also plays a key role in the health of the state's economy, environment and quality of life. There are more than 12,800 farms in Maryland providing a wide variety of fresh, nutritious foods that are available locally. The following is a guide to the specialty foods and popular cuisine of the region.
Blue Crabs have been caught commercially in the Chesapeake Bay area since the mid-1800s. They are plentiful from late spring through fall. Crab is a favorite Maryland food and is prepared in many ways—steamed or sautéed (soft shells), like crab cakes and crab imperial, or in crab soup and crab dip. Although the blue crab is commonly known as “the Maryland crab,” a large portion of them are caught in the Virginia waters of the Chesapeake Bay as well.
Oysters are harvested wild from the Chesapeake Bay or cultured in tributaries. They can be used in a variety of recipes from soups and chowders, and even eaten raw on the half shell. Oysters are at their best during the months whose names contain an “R.” During the summer their quality is poor because they have just finished spawning. Nearby Virginia is the largest producer of fresh, farm-raised oysters in the country.
Old Bay Seasoning
Old Bay Seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices produced in Maryland by McCormick & Company. The seafood seasoning mix includes mustard, paprika, celery seed, bay leaf, both black and red pepper, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, salt, mace, and ginger. Although is most popular for seasoning seafood, Old Bay is used to spice up a variety of foods including french fries, fried chicken, hamburgers, dips, vegetables, and more.
Maryland farmers grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. Here is an alphabetical list of typical Maryland products:
Apples, Apricots, Arugula, Asian Pears, Asparagus, Beets, Blackberries, Blueberries, Bok Choy, Boysenberries, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cantaloupes, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cherries, Collards, Cucumbers, Currants, Daikon, Edamame, Soybeans, Eggplant, Endive, Grapes, Green Beans, Green Onions, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Lima Beans, Melons, Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Nectarines, Okra, Onions, Parsnips, Peaches, Pears, Peas, Persimmons, Plums, Potatoes, Radishes, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Rutabagas, Salad Greens, Shallots, Spinach, Sprouts, Squash, Strawberries, Sweet Corn, Sweet Peppers, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Tomatillos, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watermelons, Zucchini.
The Maryland Eastern Shore is home to many chicken farms. Did you know that one of the most famous Perdue Farms is located in Maryland? Privately held and family-run for three generations, the company employs more than 21,000 associates and partners with 2,200 independent farm families.
Smith Island Cake
Known as the “official state dessert” of Maryland, Smith Island Cake contains several thin layers of yellow cake with rich chocolate fudge icing in between. The origin of the cake is unknown but it dates back to the 1600s and the early settlement of Smith Island, Maryland’s only inhabited island in the Chesapeake Bay. You can order them online from the Smith Island Baking Company.