The weather might not know whether it's coming or going, but the fabulous produce on sale currently tells us we're in August. British Larder proprietor Madalene Bonvini-Hamel looks at which ingredients are in their prime
With heavy rain and thunderstorms, the summer berry season is moving out faster than expected and sadly raspberries, loganberries, mulberries and strawberries are coming to an end. Blackberries and redcurrants, however, are still plentiful. Stone fruits are taking centre stage. The British cherry season has ended, but peaches, apricots and plums are peaking.
August is the month for pickling, jamming and preserving and there is no better place to look than in our hedgerows. They bear some fantastic seasonal wild plums, brambles, rosehips, elderberries and sloes. Also look out for greengages and early damsons. And, of course, the grouse season starts on 12 August.
With the heavy rain comes other positives - the grasslands are lush, with cows and sheep reaping the benefits. Expect succulent and tasty meat from our British countryside.
Red poll beef
Native to East Anglia, Red Poll is one of Britain's dual-purpose cattle breeds, producing both milk and meat. Red Poll cattle are naturally hornless and docile, which makes them easier to breed and rear. The taste is strong and wilder than other traditional breeds.
The apricot tree is hardier than the peach and can tolerate erratic weather changes more easily. Apricot stones or seeds are used as a substitute for almonds and are more commonly used in the making of Amaretto.
Figs are native to Southern Asia and the Mediterranean, but some varieties can be grown in the UK. However, the climate here is not particularly well suited to figs as they require plenty of sunshine. Saying that, the figs found here are still edible and are perfect for cooking or making into jams or chutneys.
Duck eggs are marginally larger than hens' eggs, but taste similar. The white is slightly thicker and becomes rubbery when overcooked and the yolk is a striking yellow colour. Duck eggs have now become more fashionable to eat here in the UK whereas in Asia they have been a delicacy for many centuries.
Watercress is said to be one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans. It has many uses and is delicious either raw or cooked. If you are lucky enough you might see wild watercress growing in running streams of water shadowed by large trees and foliage.
Cobnuts are a cultivated variety of the hazelnut; unlike hazelnuts we tend to eat them fresh and do not generally store them throughout the year. They fall into two main categories: green or golden.
flavours of august
Apricots, artichokes, beetroot, blackberries, broad beans, cherries, clams, cobnuts, cod, courgettes, crab, crayfish, English lamb, figs, gooseberries, greengages, haddock, halibut, herring, John Dory, langoustines, lemon sole, lobster, loganberries, mackerel, monkfish, nectarines, new potatoes, peaches, plaice, plums, raspberries, redcurrants, runner beans, salad leaves, salmon, sardines, spinach, squid, sweetcorn, tomatoes, watercress
Flavours of July >>