Seasonal food is important for extra freshness, value and flavour, find out ‘what’s in season’ this month and how to make the most of seasonal flavours from our Farm shop.
Green peppers are the unripe state of red peppers and are the most fullest of flavours, being vegetal, acidic and a little bitter, that soften once cooked, red peppers are gentler and sweeter in flavour and far more use raw or cooked, although it’s common to use red and green peppers together and also yellow. Great raw in salads or cooked in stir-frys or roasted.
A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in fact a fruit, but their affinity for other savoury ingredients means that they are usually classed as a vegetable. Round is the traditional British tomato, a good all rounder, but really needs to be ripe to get the best flavour or cherry very small and very sweet, cherry tomatoes are sometimes more expensive than salad tomatoes but their intense flavour is worth the extra, good in salads, pasta sauces or roasted. Or try plum tomotoes, baby or full grown tomato, plum tomatoes have an oval shape, with a rich flavour and comparatively few seeds, also good for making sauces and stews.
Used in almost every cuisine across the world, spinach is an enormously popular green vegetable. The leaves can be either flat or slightly ruffled, and are a bright green when young, deepening to a more intense colour when older. The bitter flavour is distinctive, you either love it or hate it, and particularly complements dairy products and eggs. The younger leaves can be eaten raw in a salads, while the older ones are usually cooked (spinach has one of the shortest cooking times of all vegetables). It reduces very dramatically during cooking; a 450g bag will be just enough for two people. Great cooked in omelettes or added to one pot dishes or cooked with chicken and fish!
Also known as green onions, spring onions are in fact very young onions, harvested before the bulb has had a chance to swell. Both the long, slender green tops and the small white bulb are edible, and are good either raw or cooked. They have a similar flavour to onions, but are much milder in taste, great for adding to salads and stir-frys.
Watercress has deep green leaves, and crisp, paler stems, watercress is related to mustard and is one of the strongest-tasting salad leaves available. It has a pungent, slightly bitter, peppery flavour and is highly nutritious, containing significant amounts of iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and E. It’s sold in either bunches or bags, and is good combined in a salad with milder leaves, or made into soups, also great in salads and pairs well with cheese!
New potatoes are in season April to July have thin, wispy skins and a crisp, waxy texture, these are young potatoes and unlike their fully grown counterparts, they keep their shape more once cooked and cut. They are sweeter because their sugar has not yet converted into starch, and are therefore particularly suited to salads. Jersey Royals are the best known variety, and their appearance in late April heralds the beginning of the summer, varieties include Pentland Javelin and salad potatoes, which are best eaten cold to appriciate their full flavour.
The courgette comes from the same family as cucumber, squash and melon. It is the most popular vegetable of the squash family, being extremely versatile, tender and easy to cook. Just don’t boil them! They have a deep green skin with firm pale flesh and are also known as zucchini. Courgettes do not need peeling, simply slice off each end to prepare, best not to boil, as they will become mushy and lose their flavour. Instead lightly sauté in butter or oil and a small amount of water, delicious raw in salads, or great on the griddle or bbq.
One of the delights of the summer, cherries are much loved for their succulent texture, flavour and gorgeous good looks. The juicy flesh can be sweet or sour, depending on which of the hundreds of varieties they are. Cherries are divided into three groups of sweet or sour, great for making jams, purees, coulis, and pies.
The juiciest fruit in the stone fruit family, plums come in many different varieties, some sweet, some slightly more tart. All plums however have certain characteristics in common, with smooth, richly coloured skins and a hard central stone, great for making pies, jams and chutneys.
Blueberries are one of the few edibles credited with being particularly high in antioxidants. They’re now grown very widely internationally but the ever-increasing number of varieties marketed means there’s no reliable guide to flavour, sweetness or texture. They’re credited with many different health benefits if a handful or so is eaten every day, but this is only true if eaten raw. Cooked blueberries lose a great deal of nutrition and most also forfeit flavour; only small, sharp wild blueberries picked directly are likely to retain flavour when cooked, such as in a blueberry muffin or other desserts .