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What's in season?
What's in Season

Food writer, Mary Gwynn's July

As I write this, the countryside is finally basking in the sunshine of high summer after the long cold spring, which means that now is the perfect time to indulge in some wonderful locally-grown produce, espeically outside . There really is no better way to enjoy any precious warm days than with a feast of wonderful summer foods, grown and produced close to home. At this time of year, everything is so good, you can follow the less is more precept and keep preparation and cooking to the minimum.

Grass-fed summer lamb is now at its very finest and, as a more fatty meat than some (the fat gives the meat flavour and keeps it from drying out), it’s ideal for the BBQ. A boned-out leg or shoulder can be marinated overnight and cooks perfectly in under an hour. I like to make up a paste of ground spices, lime juice and yogurt or try the Moroccan spice Ras al Hanout rubbed over the skin before cooking (try on cubed lamb for kebabs).

On the fish front look out for mackerel – bought silvery fresh from the market and cooked the same day to enjoy at its very best. Serve with a pickled cucumber salad. Midsummer is a great time to enjoy crab – all you need to make a feast is to serve dressed crab with simply buttered new potatoes and good mayonnaise, home made if possible. Serve with a chilled glass of one of the excellent English white wines that are now coming onto the market, such as the award winning Ortega from Biddenden Vineyards.

Amongst an abundance of produce at this month’s market, you’ll find tender broad beans (freshly picked little pods can be enjoyed whole), fresh green peas, radishes, beetroot, spring onions, spinach, and of course, new potatoes. Cucumbers, beans, both French and runner, and courgettes should be there alongside all kinds of salad leaves and great bunches of fresh herbs.

The slow cooler start to the season has been good for strawberries, especially now that the weather is warming up to ripen the fruit – so indulge yourself with the best of the British summer fruit all at its peak this month. You’ll discover a completely different experience from the pale imitations that can be found all year round in supermarkets, varieties grown for flavour rather than ease of transport and keeping qualities. Serve with rich golden pouring cream from cattle fed on the lush summer grass and a sprinkling of sugar – add a grounding of black pepper to really enhance the flavour.

And don’t miss out on cherries with the season now in full swing (Kentish cherries are justifiably world famous), gooseberries, black and REDCURRANTS, and wonderful raspberries. This is the month for jam makers and you don’t have to make huge vats of the stuff – just a few jars are incredibly satisfying to produce in your home kitchen, taste marvellous and make wonderful gifts.

What's Cookin'

Order Mary's latest book, commissioned especially to celebrate the centenary of the WI.
WI Cookbook

celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI
celebrate the centenary of the WI

Read more from Mary Gwynn at:

Why buy seasonal food?