Saturday, 9 July 2016

Seasonal eating

In season right now
I'm a great believer in seasonal eating. By sticking to what's in season locally (or at least in your country), you only eat what's freshest and therefore tastiest and most nutritious. In the UK, with its mild maritime climate, you can keep up eating seasonal food all year round since vegetables continue to grow through the winter. We make the most of what we grow and, apart from a few top-up purchases such as extra garlic, we manage to eat only veg from our own garden all year round.

Apart from the obvious environmental arguments for this (such as minimising food miles), I particularly like the way seasonal eating divides up the year. There is always some delight to look forward to. Right now it is strawberry season and there is just no comparison between the taste of outdoor-grown local strawberries and the ones available in the supermarket during the rest of the year when strawberries are imported.

Pizza with chard, onion and pickled nasturtium seeds
Yes, that means less choice, except during the height of summer, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Too much choice can be overwhelming and stressful.

So what's on the menu throughout the year? We tend to have a lot of soups and casseroles in the winter and lots of mixed salads in the summer, but the ingredients vary depending on the month. Here are a few examples.


Brussels sprouts, parsnips and leeks are at their best.

  • Leek & potato soup
  • Root vegetable casserole with pheasant


Jerusalem artichokes, celeriac and, increasingly, purple-sprouting broccoli are popular menu items.

  • Celeriac apple mash and sausages
  • Cream of Jerusalem artichoke soup
Eggs, kale and chips, plus burger


The month of purple-sprouting broccoli and the month to use up the remainder of the leeks, parsnips and celeriacs.

  • Kale, eggs and chips
  • Cheesy broccoli pasta


Spring cabbage is at its peak, chard is putting out fresh leaves and the first salad leaves and rhubarb stalks are available.

  • Rhubarb crumble 
  • Sourdough pizza with chard topping


Pak choi is the earliest crop sown in the year. There are also spring onions and salad leaves. This is the hardest month for seasonal eating, with chard, spring cabbage and, decreasingly, kale the staples before the new crops get going.

  • Pak choi stir-fry
  • Chard curry


Globe artichokes are very productive and broad beans are starting up.

  • Creamy broad bean pasta or risotto
  • Globe artichokes with vinaigrette


More and more veg, fruit and herbs are coming on stream: cucumbers, tomatoes, beetroot, carrots, peas, but possibly most important are the new potatoes. The salads are getting very colourful.

  • Beetroot and blue cheese risotto
  • New potato salad with fresh herbs


August is the bonanza month when a glut of veggies is available, particularly courgettes, beans, carrots and brassicas. Onions that won't store will have to be used up.

  • Courgette cake
  • French onion soup


The month of the maincrop potato harvest and raspberries are at their best.

  • Cranachan
  • Baked potatoes with sour cream and chives


The squash and pumpkin season begins and will last for at least three months. Carrots will need to be used up or frozen.

  • Pumpkin pie
  • Carrot & coriander soup
Venison with winter veg


Squash is dominating as the summer vegetables come to an end.

  • Venison casserole with squash and root vegetables
  • Curried squash and coconut soup


The first Brussels sprouts should be ready in time for Christmas.

  • Roast potatoes, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts with Christmas chicken
  • Baked pumpkin with spicy mince filling

Now it's time for some of that strawberry cake!

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