Seasonal British Strawberries

School holidays are well underway and the weather tends to be rather wet… If we are lucky August summer-time is lazy, warm and wonderful. The hustle and bustle quietens down in August and superb seasonal produce makes for easy dishes, where ripe, sweet flavours shine through.

Summer seasonal fruit and vegetables are abundant now and we should make the most of preserving methods: pickling, jam, chutney, fermentation. All are wonderful ways to enjoy the abundance through the winter and into next year.

Seasonal fruit is wonderful this month. Apples have arrived! We have

  • Apples: bramley – the best bakers for crumble, tarts and preserves
  • Apricots – perfect just the way they are or make jam if you have lots
  • Black/ white/ redcurrants – perfect little tart flavour bursts, best used in jams and preserves. They make a fabulous wine
  • Blueberries – in season these are a magical flavour when they burst in your mouth. Lovely in blueberry polenta cake
  • Cherries – warm from the sun cherries are a delightful flavour. Life is too short to stone a cherry. Just eat them (unless you have too many and then get making some preserves)
  • Figs – just amazing straight from the tree if you can stop yourself from eating them figs are great in warm salads and in tarts
  • Greengages – small green plums is the best description. Great eaten fresh, baked in a tart and a brilliant preserve ingredient
  • Loganberries – a cross between blackberries and raspberries. Fabulous as they are, in tarts, jams, pickles or you could try loganberry wine
  • Nectarines – fabulous and juicy, slice in half and grill for a warm salad with spinach and rocket
  • Peaches – grilled peach salad or peach chutney are two winners
  • Plums – fabulous in preserves but also great stewed with cinnamon and nutmeg and served with gluten free, vegan icecream
  • Raspberries – always good with chocolate – raw chocolate raspberry tart anyone?
  • Strawberries – need no introduction, perfect the way they are.

Herbs seasonality maintains the choice from July. Lavender a wonderful aromatic to enjoy this month. Available herbs this month include

  • Basil – aromatic and fabulous with tomatoes added to a Rich Tomato Sauce at the end of cooking or in a tomato salad
  • Bay – fabulous with any long cooked dish such as casseroles or roasts.
  • Borage – with a taste similar to cucumber it is great in salads, soups and with gluten free pasta. The flower is sweet and can be used to decorate desserts
  • Chives – delicate herbs with a strong flavour great garnish that actually adds flavour and depth to spinach and potato soup
  • Coriander – some people have a strong dislike of coriander (like me with grapefruit!) but the slightly soapy pungency works so well with Vietnamese style salads and tofu dishes as well as curry
  • Lavender – not just an amazing border but wonderful in sorbet and with strawberries
  • Marjoram – wonderful fresh in super simple tomato salad with olive oil and salt
  • Mint – fantastic in rice paper rolls, amazing in drinks
  • Oregano – (AKA wild marjoram) wonderful in salads and tomato sauces
  • Parsley: curly, flat – a robust herb that works so well with walnuts
  • Rosemary – the smell of fresh rosemary is instantly relaxing. Wonderful with roast potatoes
  • Sage – whole sage leaves fried until crisp top and complete any gnocchi dish
  • Savory: summer – great with beans, the flavour reduces the longer it is cooked
  • Tarragon – delicate aniseed flavour which works wonderfully with delicately handled mushrooms
  • Thyme: common, lemon – pungent wonderful flavour. Amazing with roast potatoes, baked with nectarines and added to a warm salad

Vegetables are abundant in August. Look out for the garden peas. Too good to cook, eat them straight from the pod. Available June seasonal vegetables (and they will vary according to region) include

  • Artichoke: Jerusalem – can make you windy but great in soup
  • Aubergine – bake whole to make baba ghanoush, fry slices and bake in a gluten-free, vegan lasagne or just wonderful in ratatouille
  • Beans: borlotti , broad, French, runner, flat – fabulous in a fresh borlotti bean soup or in a warm salad dressed with lemon juice
  • Beetroot – earthy and sweet. Gorgeous as a light pickle but amazing raw in salads
  • Broccoli: calabrese, purple sprouting – a stirling vegetable that is wonderful steamed and served with slivered almonds
  • Cabbage: red, white – wonderful shredded in Cabbage and Carrot Salad, red is particularly great as a side cooked with star anise
  • Carrots – too good to cook. Grate and slice in to strips in salads with toasted caraway seeds
  • Cauliflower – so versatile, raw, steamed, riced or roasted
  • Cavolo nero – a wonderful dark green its almost black and so easy to grow, amazing steamed with olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Celeriac – fabulous roasted and made in to a silky soup
  • Celery – one of the foundations of classic cookery with a very distinctive taste. Great in salads with apples and walnuts or in stews and soups
  • Chard – fresh young chard is great in salads, older chard is great sautéd or steamed
  • Chicory/ endive/ radicchio – slightly bitter tasting but if you grill and use in a simple salad with olive oil and walnuts it is wonderful stuff
  • Chilli – I love chillies, use in everything (dependent upon the heat and flavour) from guacamole to Ma Po Tofu to Chilli Sin Carne and all the other amazing uses in between
  • Courgettes – underused as a salad vegetable or slice thinly, grill and add to salads with lemon and flaked almonds
  • Cress: mustard/ mixed – always available, what more do you need to top off a salad
  • Cucumber – nothing better than in season cucumber with the seeds removed and sliced with sesame, soy sauce an toasted sesame seeds
  • Edible flowers – lots available from borage to nasturtium a striking addition to any salad, the tastes are amazing
  • Fennel – a lovely aniseed taste crunchy addition to salads. Great roasted with lemon
  • Garlic – a foundation to classic cookery, what isn’t garlic in. Roast whole to get a wonderful flavour
  • Kohlrabi – turnip like but with distinct layers. The tops can be used as greens, the flesh is great in salads
  • Lettuce: cos, curly, iceberg, lambs, little gem, round –  – one of the fundamental salad ingredients, keep it simple with a light dressing, enjoy the in season flavours
  • Marrow – roast with lots of spices and use in soups
  • Mushrooms: button / cup /flat (cultivated), enoki (Cultivated), girolle Scottish (wild), oyster (cultivated), pied bleu (cultivated), shitake (cultivated) –  lots of different types with different flavours, bring out the earthy, nutty flavours in a risotto, Lentil and Mushroom Soup, or a simple stir fry
  • Onions – a fundamental ingredient in many kitchens and forms the foundation to many classic dishes
  • Pak Choi – wonderful in a stir fry with chilli and soy sauce
  • Parsnip – nutty, sweet and the best flavour comes from roasting and then you can use in a roast, make soup or whatever you fancy
  • Peas – if you must cook them use them in risotto at the last minute to keep their delicate texture and flavour
  • Peppers: capsicum – versatile and available in several colours each with a subtly different flavour. Fabulous in a robust salad, as a key ingredient in ratatouille, in tofu with green peppers and black bean sauce
  • Potatoes – early: maris peer, osprey  – new potatoes are perfect with their waxy integrity for potato salads with a light dressing, mint and salt
  • Potatoes – main crop: anya, King Edward, marfona, maris piper, pink fir apple, rooster – perfect for Crispy Roast Potatoes, mashing or chips!
  • Pumpkin – wonderful Roasted Squash with spices and then the options are endless
  • Radish: daikon/ mooli – fabulous as Japanese style pickle accompaniment or as the main ingredient in Chinese turnip cakes. The green tops are eaten in Pakistan
  • Radishes – the mustardy heat of home grown radishes is wonderful, a simple salad is a perfect showcase
  • Rocket – growing like Billy-O at the moment, mustard hot, avocado and rocket salad is wonderful
  • Romanesco – the most beautiful vegetable in the world. Crunchy and mild great in salads and steamed
  • Samphire – there are lots of types of samphire. Mild and crunchy it is wonderful pickled, used in salads or lightly steamed
  • Savoy cabbage – amazing really finely sliced in a stir fry or use to wrap Walnut and Mushroom Parcels
  • Spinach – deep greens with a light metallic tinge, perfect in salads, great in bakes
  • Spring greens-  delicate steam to get the best from their delicate flavour
  • Spring Onions – great in salads and as a garnish to stir fries
  • Sweetcorn – fresh sweetcorn in a wonder try grilled whole on a barbeque or in a corn chowder
  • Tomatoes – lots and lots of types of tomatoes in varying sizes, shapes and flavours. Serve at room temperature with a good olive oil and sea salt. More battered tomatoes can be made in to chutneys, pickles and tomato sauces
  • Turnips – a much under rated salad vegetable, sweet and peppery, slice thinly with carrots and parsley
  • Watercress – iron rich and peppery a wonderful salad foundation and a great soup.
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