After a rainy end to July, we now look to August as British fields and orchards begin to bulge with their wares to take us into the main harvesting month of September. While berries are still great, we are now starting to see the best of the English peaches.
For us, August is about eating al fresco. Start with delicate langoustines on the grill with garlic and parsley butter and finish with a simple bowl of Burnt peaches with buttermilk ice cream and hazelnuts.
Take a look at our favourite August finds:
July to September is peach season in the UK and there can be nothing better than biting into this sweet fruit on a balmy summer’s day. Their fragrant flesh marries well with both savoury and sweet partners, so it’s a great time to include an abundance of peaches in your recipes. Vanilla or almondy flavours, such as marzipan or Amaretto, will waken the peachiness, whereas the fruit’s texture and sublime juiciness make it a natural foil to salty cured meats such as Parma Ham and chorizo. Choose unblemished, perfectly fuzzed fruit that gives when gently pressed.
How to grow guide:
Peach trees should be planted on a mild day any time from November to March. Although they’re hardy in the UK (apart from the far north), the blossom and young fruits are vulnerable to frost. Grow your trees against a south- or west-facing wall, or in a pot, which you can move under cover for winter.
Peaches will tolerate most soils, but before planting dig in plenty of well-rotted garden compost or manure. If you have clay soil, improve drainage by filling the bottom of the planting hole with rubble. Plant your tree so the top of the rootball sits level with the soil’s surface and the stem is at least 20cm away from the wall. Prepare a framework of wires ready to tie in the stems as they grow.
To plant a tree in a pot, fill the bottom with pea gravel (to improve drainage and stability), then fill with soil-based compost. Leave a gap between the compost and top of the pot for easy watering. Never let the compost dry out.
Also known as Norway lobsters or Dublin Bay prawns, langoustines are pale orange-pink crustaceans, similar to lobsters but a lot smaller. In recent years they have garnered appeared regularly on fine dining menus across the country.
Langoustines thrive in cold water and are abundant in Scottish lochs. In fact, over a third of the world’s langoustines are caught in Scotland, but many are exported to other countries. Langoustines are in season from September to May, and fishing only stops in spring to allow for the breeding season. A lot of langoustines out there are not caught using sustainable methods, so make sure you only buy MSC-labelled, organic or pot-caught. When buying langoustines live, check for shiny jet black eyes, a fresh smell of the sea and quick, lively movements. The legs and antennae shouldn’t be damaged, and the shells shouldn’t be marked.
Chanterelles are a prized ingredient and a forager’s favourite. Succulent and delicate in flavour, chanterelle is used by chefs the world over. Yellow or orange in colour, smelling of apricots, chanterelles are a Spook favourite. Chanterelle is the common name for several species of wild, edible fungi in the Cantharellaceae family. They appear between summer and late autumn in woodlands and have a fruity aroma when first picked.
Chanterelle is eaten widely and can be very expensive. It is considered a gourmet fungus by many chefs because of its delicate flavour and succulent texture. It also has medicinal qualities, particularly antibacterial and antiviral properties and contains eight essential amino acids.
Recipe: Pickled Chanterelles
How to Forage:
Chanterelles are common but localised in the UK. They grow in coniferous forests in mossy areas or in broadleaved forests. require established woodland to grow, which means they’re not likely to be cultivated anytime soon. Chanterelles develop interdependent relationships with trees, called mycorrhizal relationships. This relationship takes a while to establish, so they require a mature forest to grow. A forest that’s been cut in the past few years won’t have chanterelles. Look for older trees and a solid forest canopy. They’re most commonly found around maple, beech, poplar, birch and oak trees. In some areas, like Scotland, they’re associated with pine and fir trees.