Eat the Seasons: Summer Fruit & Vegetable Special

By Leah Larwood of Roots and Toots Blog

My love of local produce stems from childhood. Growing up, my brother and I would sell our garden leftovers - namely pears, blackberries, apples and Victoria Plums - from the end of our drive. A small bag was fifty pence and a large freezer bag was a pound. This is how we made our pocket money during the summer holidays. Still to this day, here in Norfolk, roadside vans, pop-up stalls and driveway booths sell similar edible treasures: bundles of asparagus, Cromer crabs, samphire, waxy spuds covered in soil, wildflower honey and a plethora of ripe berries and homemade preserves. 

Of course, it makes financial sense to eat the seasons but local seasonal fruit and veg also come with some surprising health benefits. Foods in seasons have all the minerals and nutrients that we need at certain times in the year. For example, autumnal foods tend to have more vitamin C, which is exactly what we need to fight off winter colds and bugs. Supermarkets often buy out of season produce from overseas that’s been treated to kill germs, and sometimes, they are preserved in wax to extend the shelf life. Whereas, eating local and seasonal is also a great opportunity to broaden your diet, try new things and experiment with different foods. 

Here are three other reasons why buying seasonal is a smart choice:

1. Taste

Firstly, seasonal fruit and veg will always taste fresher, lovelier, sweeter and riper. When that piece of fruit or veg has naturally ripened and has been harvested at the right time, it will have sacks more nutritional content and flavour too. When overseas crops have been imported, usually they have been harvested early and then chilled so they travel well. However, when they are refrigerated, this reduces the flavour. Before they even make it to the supermarkets, they’re often kept at a holding house where they’re heated so that they can complete the ripening process. This, of course, is artificial and doesn’t yield the same quality, flavour or texture. 

2. No Nasties

When fruit and veg have been imported, you just can’t guarantee what’s happened to them after they’ve been picked! Regulations for pesticides and herbicides vary drastically. Here in the UK, we’re pretty good but there are loads of countries, even those within Europe, that have relaxed laws about chemicals being sprayed on fruits and vegetables.

3. Planet Friendly

Eating seasonally reduces the demand for out-of-season produce, which further supports more local produce and promotes local farming in your area, which in turn, means less transportation, refrigeration, hothouses, and irradiation of produce. However, it’s easy to lose track of what’s ‘in’ and what’s out of season. So below is a list of seasonal foods for the summer!

 

June

Asparagus, Aubergine, Beetroot, Blackcurrants, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cherries, Chicory, Chillies, Courgettes, Cucumber, Elderflowers, Gooseberries, Lettuce, Marrow, New Potatoes, Peas, Peppers, Radishes, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Rhubarb, Rocket, Runner Beans, Samphire, Sorrel, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Strawberries, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tayberries, Turnips, Watercress.

July  

Aubergine, Beetroot, Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Blueberries, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cherries, Chicory, Chillies, Courgettes, Cucumber, Gooseberries, Greengages, Fennel, French Beans, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Loganberries, New Potatoes, Onions, Peas, Potatoes, Radishes, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Rhubarb, Rocket, Runner Beans, Samphire, Sorrel, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Strawberries, Summer Squash, Swish Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress.

August

Aubergine, Beetroot, Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cherries, Chicory, Chillies, Courgettes, Cucumber, Damsons, Fennel, French Beans, Garlic, Greengages, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Loganberries, Mangetout, Marrow, Mushrooms, Parsnips, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Plums, Pumpkin, Radishes, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Rhubarb, Rocket, Runner Beans, Samphire, Sorrel, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Strawberries, Summer Squash, Sweetcorn, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Watercress.

SOURCE: The Vegetarian Society

Foraging for Seasonal Veg

One of my fondest memories from a blistering summer’s afternoon way back when, was foraging for samphire in North Norfolk. Our family has been weekend gathers of fruits and nuts before ‘foraging’ achieved a renaissance. Chestnuts, hedgerow fruits, samphire, mushrooms and herbs – and that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. I urge you to do the same. It’s such a rewarding experience. 

Naturally, it’s best to forage responsibly and stick to public woodlands, meadows and coastline that are not protected nor on private land. It’s also important that you only forage for what you can positively identify.

Here are some of my favourite and easily recognisable things to forage for in the summer months:

  • Wild Garlic (May)
  • Elderflower (late May to mid-June)
  • Blackberries (July onwards)
  • Marsh Samphire (July and August)
  • Elderberries (August)
  • Figs (August)
  • Red clover (from May)
  • Lemon balm (from June)

Best way to cook seasonal veg

Wash your veg just before you chop them up and avoid soaking them, this can remove nutrients.  On the whole, the best way to lock-in nutrients during cooking is to steam your veg. However, for the maximum health benefits, eat your veg raw.

Leah is a freelance writer and published poet. She also blogs about quirky and vintage-inspired travel, local produce, independent eateries and alternative therapies.

Lifestyle blogger at www.rootsandtoots.com

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