Nova Scotia Local Foods

Lobster, Fiddleheads, and Other Local Specialties

Nova Scotia eating involves more than its justly famed lobsters. Wild, foraged foods like fiddlehead ferns, chanterelle mushrooms, and wild blueberries are of particular note. As are the thick, crunchy oatcakes that go so well with tea or coffee that are baked around the province. A range of shellfish, including Digby scallops and Cape Breton oysters, are another great fact of local foods in this maritime province. The lobsters, though, they really really remarkable good.... Like all of these guides, this one is a work in progress. Is there something you love about eating in Nova Scotia that you don't see here? Tell us about it!

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    Nova Scotia Seasonal Produce

    Baby Spinach Leaves. Photo © Molly Watson

    The growing season on this island is short, but it is also very sweet. Like in the rest of Canada, the long summer days help gardens and truck farms really kick into gear, with harvest hitting from July through September. Know when to expect and when with this Guide to Nova Scotia Seasonal Produce.

  • 02 of 12

    Nova Scotia Farmers Markets

    Beets and Carrots at Market
    Beets and Carrots at Market. Photo © Molly Watson

    Find seasonal produce and much more at Nova Scotia's oldest market, Halifax Seaport Farmers Market. Nova Scotia markets are increasingly featuring eggs, meat, honey, and other food products besides fresh produce, allowing them to stay open for longer seasons, such as the May-December season for the Wolfsville Farmers Market.

    Find a market near you in Nova Scotia with this guide from Farmers Markets of Nova Scotia (FMNS), a cooperative of farmers markets from across the province.

  • 03 of 12

    Nova Scotia Lobster

    Lobster. Photo © Richard Boll, used with permission from Getty Images

    The best lobster I've ever had was in Nova Scotia. More than once. Fresh, sweet, tender lobster. It's a regional specialty and tradition; to the point where a Nova Scotia native and son of a lobsterman told me tales of being ashamed of bringing a lobster sandwich to school for lunch since that's what poor people (i.e. the families of lobstermen) ate. Anyone who could bought canned ham and other "delicacies."

    Taste, it's subjective. And it's local.

  • 04 of 12

    Digby Scallops

    Scallops Clams Shrimp
    Scallops Clams Shrimp. Photo © Tom Gill, used with permission from Getty Images

    Digby, the town where ferries from St. Johns, New Brunswick come in, is home to some very tasty scallops. Small, tender, and sweet.

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  • 05 of 12

    Nova Scotia Oysters

    Atlantic Oysters
    Atlantic Oysters. Photo © Molly Watson

    Nova Scotia produces some fabulous oysters. Both true ocean oysters, like Cape Bretons, with all their brine and minerality, and lighter bodied Bras d’Or oyster, which was developed the Department of Fisheries. Check out this great map of Nova Scotia oysters for more info, and learn more about Oysters here.

    The waters of Nova Scotia are also home to others bivalves, including rope-grown mussels (no grit there!). See How to Cook Mussels if you get your hands on some.

  • 06 of 12

    Nova Scotia Blueberries

    Blueberries. Photo © Molly Watson

    Wild blueberries are the very best blueberries, on that point blueberry-philes can agree. Nova Scotia has both wild blueberries and cultivated blueberries. The cold winter and long summer days work in concert to grow the very sweetest and more flavorful blueberries you have ever seen. 

  • 07 of 12

    Nova Scotia Fiddleheads

    Photo © Molly Watson

    Wild fiddlehead ferns grow in the damp spring forests all over Nova Scotia. These grassy-nutty greens-slash-vegetables are hand harvested by traditionalists and culinary die-hards alike, and are sometimes for sale by foragers at local markets and roadsides. Learn more about Fiddlehead Ferns.

  • 08 of 12

    Nova Scotia Wild Mushrooms

    Chanterelle Mushrooms. Photo © Molly Watson

    The first place I ever went foraging for wild mushrooms was in Nova Scotia. It is also the place where I was once confronted with several pounds of chanterelles and asked if I knew what to do with them. Boy, did I! We sauteed them and put them on homemade pizzas and gorged ourselves silly before awaking the next morning to chanterelles and scrambled eggs, the breakfast of champions if ever there was one. Learn more about Wild Mushrooms.

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  • 09 of 12

    Nova Scotia Apples

    Jonathon Apples. Photo © Molly Watson

    Annapolis Valley is famous for its apples (and other produce too!). Find apple orchards, including ones open for u-pick, with this map from Orange Pippin. Figure out what to do with your haul with All About Apples.

  • 10 of 12

    Nova Scotia Cranberries

    Fresh Cranberries
    Fresh Cranberries. Photo © Getty Images

    Natural and man-made bogs in Nova Scotia are home to the bright red sweet-tart fruit that is the native North American cranberry. Get great Cranberry Recipes here.

  • 11 of 12

    Nova Scotia Oatcakes

    Nova Scotia Oatcakes
    Nova Scotia Oatcakes. Photo © Molly Watson

    Oats, flour, sugar, and always a bit of salt - since its their sweet-yet-salty flavor that makes them so irresistible (at least to me) - keep oatcakes simple yet yummy. They are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, but I find they work great as a homey dessert or quick breakfast, too. 

  • 12 of 12

    Nova Scotia Local Eating Resources

    Sunrise over village and bay
    David Henderson / Getty Images

    Nova Scotia Select promotes local foods and local vendors by making it easier for consumers to find local producers near them.

    Taste of Nova Scotia promotes local food and wine and is also a good source for food-related events around the province.

    This Nova Scotia Local blog is about much more than food, but has plenty of resources and information for those looking to eat locally.