Making the most of seasonal summer food
If there is one thing I love about summer, it’s the proliferation of seasonal, homegrown food items that crop up everywhere. It’s true, we are now used to being able to purchase fruit, veg and other items in supermarkets all year round but these have usually been imported and have undergone some sort of treatment to keep them fresh until they hit the shelves, resulting in loss of flavour, nutrients and a price increase.
How many times have you passed a summer farmer’s market or roadside stand and seen fresh strawberries, tomatoes, new potatoes and other summer fruit and vegetables on offer? Better still, how many times have you stopped to buy? There is nothing to beat the taste of a newly-picked strawberry or a sun-warmed tomato straight from the vine. Best of all, these roadside stands and markets usually sell their food at keen prices so it’s worth enjoying these foods while they are in season and are so readily available. It’s fresh, home-produced and hasn’t travelled thousand of miles. Best of all, you are helping the local economy which is always a good thing.
One of my fondest childhood memories is of going to a farm where we could pick our own fruit. I can still close my eyes and feel the sun on my back and smell the distinctive fragrance of strawberries in the air…. and the taste! I was also lucky enough to have a lane full of bramble bushes and trees at the back of my house and many late summer/autumn days were spent snacking on blackberries and beech nuts while playing. These days my mother, a keen gardener, keeps me well supplied with tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers from her greenhouse and really, there is nothing to rival the taste. If you’re a gardener yourself, then you know how rewarding it can be to enjoy produce that you have worked hard to grow.
Fruit and veg that are commonly in season during the summer are as follows: Strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, artichokes, beetroot, broccoli, peas, rocket, tomatoes, watercress and new potatoes to name but a few. These are all high in nutrients and can be easily added into your plan. Think of a smoothie blended with fresh summer fruits or served with a dollop of low-fat yoghurt. Summer salads with garden-grown tomatoes, lettuce and scallions or gently steamed new potatoes and green beans with a pinch of mint or parsley. Meat and fish need not be left out either. Lamb is commonly in season in summer and instead of indulging in ice-cream or chips at the seaside, why not treat yourself to a pot of shellfish or a fresh crab salad? Seaside towns usually have plenty of fish shops where locally caught produce can be purchased so taking home some freshly caught fish for tea can be a real treat.
Taking advantage of seasonal foods is a delicious and highly nutritious way to enjoy summer eating. It’s also easier on your pocket and supports the local economy so make the most of your summer foods while they last.