Food in Season: June
By WLR's Food Information Executive, Laurence Beeken
In June, summertime has begun and by the middle of the month, you can be tucking in to all manner of fresh produce, and kiss goodbye to the ones that have sat around in storage for months.
The foods seen in May are still around and are joined by a wider selection of soft fruits & vegetables.
Low in calories, full of healthy compounds and delicious eaten straight from the plant, strawberries are now available all year round. As it’s the British strawberry season from around June to September (weather permitting) this is the best time to savour that fragrant summer treat.
For the best tasting strawberries, it is always best to wait until the season has gotten underway and the fruits have been ripened by the summer sun, that way you will avoid the bland taste of the indoor grown, mass produced, imported fruits. As strawberries do not ripen once picked, home-grown and picked yourself will be so much juicier and flavoursome.
Strawberries are not just to be eaten with cream and sugar, so add them to as many dishes as you can while they are around. Summer salads can be garnished and meat dishes can be enhanced with sauces having a fruity tang. The traditional dessert Eton Mess is a favourite and although high in calories you can enjoy a meringue/fruit modification by omitting the cream. The more adventurous amongst you may like to add a couple of drops of balsamic vinegar and black pepper or a pinch of chilli powder to enhance their flavour, and if you get a glut then have a go at a low sugar jam or ice cream.
Like other fruits, strawberries are renowned for their content of protective plant compounds such as phenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins as well as their antioxidant properties which have been shown to help protect cell structures in the body from damage. Strawberries also contain a substance called ellagic acid which may help fight cancers, and they are also a good source of Fibre, Potassium and Vitamin C.
Strawberries do go mushy in water so rinse lightly and remove the calyx and stalk just before serving.
If not using immediately, layer on a plate covered in kitchen paper before storing in the fridge. Strawberries are highly perishable so best eaten on day of purchase/picking but can be kept in the fridge for a day or two.
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- Strawberry Salsa (31.7 kcal per serving)
- Salmon & Strawberry Salad (222.2 kcal per serving)
- Strawberries & Scallops (279.6 kcal per serving)
Carrots are an herbaceous plant, and although it is the root that is most commonly eaten, the leaves are also edible. Their sweet flavour has made them one of the most popular culinary root vegetables, and they can often be found as an ingredient in jams and puddings (for example the familiar carrot cake!)
Carrots are high in sugar and fibre and are an excellent source of carotene, which gives the carrots their bright orange colour. Carrots are also a good source of other nutrients, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, and folic acid.
Most of the goodness is actually in, or just below the skin so be gentle if peeling as this removes some of the valuable nutrients, and up to 15% of the carotene. When buying carrots, check to see if they have been shaved or tumbled as this abrasive process acts in the same way as peeling.
Carrots are available all year round in shops but when growing them, they do best in cooler weather, so the British climate is ideal! Planted in early spring the stump rooted varieties can be grown in a pot so there’s no excuse for not having a supply of home grown veg to hand!
When buying, look for carrots that are uniform in colour from top to bottom and whose skin is smooth and free of cracks or holes. Although a slight greening at the top is nothing to worry about, a dark discoloration at the crown is a sign of age and flavour may be impaired. Avoid carrots that have begun to sprout if the tops have been removed, that have blemishes, soft spots, or large green areas at the crown and any that have become limp or shrivelled.
Scrub thoroughly and remove the crown, including the leaves and the base (top & tail) then slice or dice as preferred. Older carrots may need peeling but try to keep this light rather than deep.
Carrots can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month if young and stored properly. To prevent condensation and rotting, wrap the carrots in a paper towel and then place them in a bag in the lower part of the refrigerator, or use a perforated plastic bag. If the carrots still have the greens attached, cut them off 2 inches above the crown to prevent them from drawing moisture out of the carrots. Do not store carrots next to fruits such as apples and pears.
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- Carrots with Tarragon (71.7 kcal per serving)
- Carrot & Orange Soup (154.6 kcal per serving)
- Roasted Carrot Houmous (209.8 kcal per serving)
A member of the pea family, broad beans are a hardy and versatile vegetable. They're a great source of protein and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins A, B1 and B2. Also known as fava beans, these legumes have been used as a staple food and even roasted and ground to make flour. Equally good when accompanied either with a rich sauce or simply with bacon, broad beans are at their peak from the end of June to mid September.
Buy broad beans as fresh as possible; pods should be firm and crisp. Avoid any that feel soft or leathery or if the pod is wrinkled or blackened. The beans need to be eaten within a couple of days of purchase and stored in the fridge, otherwise the carbohydrates in the beans turn to sugar which in turn changes the flavour.
Slit each pod along its seam and run your thumb along the inside to push the beans out.
As the bean pods become older they can develop a tough outer skin and if this is the case then the easiest way to deal with this is to boil the beans lightly, then remove the skin when cool. The beans can then be returned for cooking as preferred.
If the beans are very young, small and tender then they can be boiled or steamed and enjoyed whole.
Keep in a perforated bag in the fridge for up to five days or if you have a glut, then shell them and place them flat on a tray before freezing then bagging.
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Broad Bean Recipes:
- Broad Beans with Bacon (166.7 kcal per serving)
- Broad Bean Pate (147.7 kcal per serving)
- Broad Bean, Spinach & Feta Salad (398.3 kcal per serving)