Whenever we develop recipes we always start by thinking first about what’s in season. One of the main reasons is that ingredients bought in season are more likely to be fresher, naturally ripened on the vine or tree and harvested at the right time, and therefore tend to have much more flavour and higher in nutritional value. Eating with the seasons also supports your body’s natural nutritional needs and creates a balanced variety in our diet over the year.
1. Broad beans
In season May to September. For the freshest broad beans buy from a local fruit & veg market and use quickly as they quickly lose flavour with each day that passes after picking.
Did you know? Broad beans are a type of vetch with the Latin name Vicia faba. Vetches, which include peas and alfalfa, are nitrogen fixing plants that enrich the soil in which they are planted.
Nutritional notes: Broad beans are good sources of protein, fibre, vitamins A and C, potassium and iron. They also contain levodopa (L-dopa), a chemical the body uses to produce dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with the brain's reward and motivation system).
In season June to October. Peaches get softer and juicier after picking but they only develop flavour and sweetness on the tree. Scent strength is a very good indicator of the level of flavour. The amount and depth of pink coverage on the skin varies and does not signify ripeness, but any sign of green reveals fruit that has been picked prematurely.
Did you know? The peach tree (Amygdalus persica) is a member of the rose family and is related to both the apricot and the almond.
Nutritional notes: Peaches are full of vitamin C and are also a good source of potassium and fibre. They contain beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.
In season April to December. Raw watercress adds a peppery yet smooth edge to dishes and is highly nutritious. A great alternative to rocket in salads and sandwiches. It is a classic soup ingredient and when cooked has a milder flavour. It's also great in juices and gives carrot-based drinks a lovely bite.
Did you know? The proper name for watercress is Nasturtium officinale. Nasturtium is Latin for 'nose twister', a reference to the plant's pungency.
Nutritional notes: Watercress is rich in vitamin C, calcium, iron and folic acid. It is a cruciferous plant containing anti-cancer phyto chemicals such as beta-carotene and flavonoids.
4. Jersey Royal New Potatoes
In season March to July. The early season potatoes are smaller and more tender, the later season ones larger and more flavourful; both are delicious. Look for unwashed potatoes; they travel better wearing a jacket of earth. Leave the skins on and give them a good wash, most of the flavour and goodness lies just beneath the surface.
Did you know? In around 1880 a Jersey farmer, Hugh de la Haye, discovered and harvested a potato that was initially named the Jersey Royal Fluke. This developed into today's Jersey Royal new potato which is now grown by approximately 90 island farmers and accounts for two-thirds on the island's agricultural output.
Nutritional notes: Jersey Royal new potatoes are a good source of fibre and vitamin C.
5. Artichoke (Globe or French)
In season June to November, artichokes aren't grown extensively in this country, so if you can't find any UK-grown examples go for fresh-looking French imports. Look for firm, heavy artichokes with stiff, bright green leaves. To test for freshness, squeeze the artichoke and listen for a squeaky sound. Avoid those that look dry or have split leaves or heavy browning.
Did you know? The Globe Artichoke is not technically a vegetable at all but the unopened flowering bud of the plant Cynara scolymus from the thistle family.
Nutritional Notes: The artichoke contains significant levels of vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and fibre.