Summer Seasons News
With the warmth of summer comes an abundance of delicious produce; from stream to hedgerow, from earth to tree, nature’s larder is brimming with tasty treats. Because the start of spring 2018 was a faltering one, the UK is now looking forward to a sun-soaked, glorious summer as we watch the earth come to life – we hope so anyway!
Through the summer there are staple favourites, which remain from beginning to end, such as peas and beans, as well as elusive foods to catch while you can, like the mysterious asparagus. Either way we are super excited at the thought of delving into these foods, which can – and should – all be obtained locally for the best in quality and flavour.
So what offerings will we have during the coming months?
As well as the fruits of spring’s labours such as peas, beans and herbs, May introduces that elusive vegetable: the asparagus. Firm and with a subtle yet distinct, earthy flavour, asparagus is a gorgeous accompaniment to so many meats and fish – and superb dipped in home-made mayonnaise.
Other vegetables ripe for the picking include the technicolour selection of spring onions, radishes and purple sprouting broccoli. From the river, bejewelled fish such as mackerel and salmon leap onto the plate. Zingy fruits such as gooseberries, strawberries and raspberries can start to be enjoyed, washed down with our unique South Downs sparkling wine, made from grapes grown on the south facing chalky hills which were a part of the Champagne appellation millions of years ago.
In the herb garden, basil, chives, coriander, dill, oregano, nasturtium, curly parsley, rosemary, sage and tarragon are all great additions to your plate at this time of year.
Moving into June and July, spring lamb is now ready to eat; enjoy it hot as a Sunday roast – or any other day for that matter – with peas, beans and roast new potatoes or, for an alternative roast lunch, cold with a crisp salad of lettuces, cucumber, slithers of fennel and a new potato salad.
Wood pigeon, for the adventurous diner, is perfect now. Fresh from the sea; cod, crab, salmon, haddock, sardines, scallops and whitebait provide a varied seafood platter – be sure to ask and make sure you are buying locally caught fish!
Herbs such as thyme, mint and flat leaf parsley are now in abundance and can be easily grown in the garden or window box, or bought at local farm shops. Hedgerows offer elderflowers and young nettles now for quintessentially British, foraged cordial – whether you enjoy yours alcoholic or not!
The late summer months take on a more robust, autumnal twist as harvest time approaches. Courgettes and leaks fatten, perfect for roasted vegetable dishes with a barbecue or in the oven; peas, which have been our friend since May, are still available throughout July and August: a sweet, colourful addition to any plate – and frankly if they are home grown, are best eaten straight from the pod without cooking at all! From the tree, early plums, apples and pears tempt us with thoughts of crumble puddings and fresh compotes.
And of course, we won’t run short of the superb locally reared beef, lamb, pork and poultry, reared by our local farmers and which are flavoured by and help make the landscape of the South Downs what it is.
Is your mouth watering like ours? Looking for somewhere to buy these delicious offerings? Throughout the South Downs region, there are Farm Shops, which sell the season’s freshest food, such as:
The Sussex Produce Company, Steyning, West Sussex
Newlyns Farm Shop, Andover, Hampshire
Rushfields, Poynings, West Sussex
Cowdray Farm Shop, Midhurst, West Sussex
Goodwood Home Farm, Chichester, West Sussex
Charlie’s Farm Shop, Pulborough, West Sussex
Sharnfold Farm Shop, Pevensey, East Sussex