How many of us have had a sudden craving for strawberries in late November, then gone to the shops and found them at triple the expected price? This happens because produce grows seasonally. Food grown in the UK during its peak season is usually very affordable, as shipping costs are low and harvests are plentiful. On the other hand, November’s strawberries are more likely to have been grown abroad or in special heated conditions, making the growing and shipping more expensive.
By choosing to eat seasonally, we can slash our food bills and enjoy some really excellent produce – harvested at its best and often sourced closer to home. Whether it’s midwinter curry or smoothie recipes for kids, there’s sure to be a seasonal option out there for you.
Winter fruits and berries
Most edible fruits grow and ripen in warm weather, but there are late-blooming options around. Here are a few:
Apples: Many British apples ripen right at the end of summer, and are traditionally stored over winter and eaten right through until spring. Look out for varieties such as Jazz, Empire, Gala, Jonagold, and Rubens.
Berries: Gooseberries and cranberries are often available late into the winter. Some other berries, like sloes, elderberries, and blackberries, grow through the autumn as well – but they only stick around until the end of November, so enjoy them while they last!
More unusual fare: Quince has been a national staple for centuries, but has gone out of fashion in recent years. It’s around until early December though, so be sure to keep an eye out for it if you’d like to try something new!
Hearty winter vegetables
Most people are familiar with winter vegetable soup, but there’s more to the chillier months than turnips and potatoes. Here are a few others:
Winter leaves: Leafy vegetables like chard, kale, chicory, sprouts, and cabbage are all good winter growers, as their tougher leaves help them stand up to the cold British weather. Steamed, broiled, or fried, even the strongest cabbage can have a delicate flavour that your family will love.
Warm roots: There are turnips and swedes, of course, but parsnips, potatoes, and beetroot are also available for eating in cold weather. To add extra flavour to those warming soups, look out for fennel, celeriac, and leeks too.
Something different: The Jerusalem Artichoke is an often-overlooked root vegetable with a distinct flavour. Look out for it at a market or grocer, or ask local grow-your-own buffs if they have some squirreled away – it’s incredibly easy to grow, and delicious fried.
How to cheat
Fresh produce may be limited to certain seasons, but there are ways to cheat the system and ensure a steady supply of treats all year.
So, when you’re next shopping for fresh produce, try to take note of where the items were grown – seasonal produce grown in the UK might just represent a big saving for you, and many people will tell you it tastes better to boot!