July is always a fantastic month for British seasonal foods, with a wide range of produce to choose from and bursts of colourful berries decorating the shrubbery.
Much of the season’s produce is so simple to serve and enjoy, just as it is, especially when freshly picked. But if you’re looking for something unique, we’ve selected our favourite recipe ideas for doing something a little bit different with your summer harvest. Take a look at our favourite July finds.
These fragrant, sweet fruits are in season from May to September and are the perfect summer fruit for a hot day. A relative of the peach, nectarine, plum and cherry, apricots are fragrant, with a soft, velvety skin that ranges from pale yellow to deep orange.
Apricots are suited to warmer climates, therefore growing apricots in the UK is a relatively new phenomenon, but new cultivars mean trees are now popping up on several fruit farms and producing some excellent fruit.
Recipe: Apricot and Thyme Chutney
How to grow guide:
Although fully hardy, apricots flower early and are vulnerable to frost, therefore, they are best grown on a warm, sheltered, south-facing wall, or freestanding in milder climates.
Apricots flourish on deep, moisture-retentive, well-drained, ideally slightly alkaline soils and struggle in poor, shallow soils.
Dig in one bucketful of fertiliser before planting your apricots. Plant during the dormant season from November to March. Autumn is ideal as the soil is still warm.
Marsh samphire has vibrant green stalks, similar to baby asparagus, with a distinctively crisp and salty taste. It can be used raw in a salad, though it tends to be very salty, so is more often boiled or steamed for a few minutes. Samphire is also known as sea beans, sea asparagus, sea pickle and Salicornia.
Marsh Samphire describes a genus of plant, rather than a single species. It is a plant that has been collected and used for centuries, not only as a food but until the last century it provided a raw material used in the manufacture of glass, hence its other common name ‘glasswort’.
Recipe: Sea Herb Fritti
How to forage:
Samphire grows in salt marsh areas near the sea, such as estuaries and mudflats. The best time to forage for Marsh Samphire is late spring to summer. When foraging for samphire, look for long, thin spikes that look like miniature asparagus stalks, often growing in large numbers. To harvest, pinch or use scissors to snip the tips of the stems, leaving the tough, yellow lower stalks intact.
Mulberry trees are traditionally grown for their leaves — mainly in Asia and North America — as they’re the only food that silkworms eat. They carry colourful berries — most commonly black, white, or red — that are often made into wine, fruit juice, tea, jam, or canned foods, but can also be dried and eaten as a snack.
Mulberries are hard to come by in shops, but the UK has a bountiful supply of mulberries to forage from. Black mulberries are generally considered far tastier than white mulberries, having a sweeter taste compared to the white’s more acidic tang. Fortunately, the majority of mulberries found in London are of the black variety, which ripen in late July and August.
Recipe: Mulberry Margarita
How to forage:
In Britain, mulberry trees are most often found on the grounds of stately homes, public parks, squares and private gardens. They almost never grow in woods but can be found in orchards, or on sites of former orchards. Mulberries can be hard to identify, especially in winter before the leaves are out. Bear in mind that mulberries are among the last to come into leaf (usually in early May in Britain).
The Mulberry looks a bit like a large blackberry or loganberry and consists of a cluster of tiny fruits, each with a seed. When picking, take care not to touch your clothing and wear protective gloves as the fruit can stain your fingers.
Mackerel is a beautiful oily fish, both for its iridescent, striking skin and its rich, fishy flavour. Mackerel has a distinctive flavour and is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Mackerel is a comparatively sustainable fish, although the Marine Conservation Society recommends only buying line-caught, UK-landed mackerel where possible.
Mackerel are migratory and come to the UK in spring and early summer, when they will feed actively and then migrate to warmer seas in the autumn months to spawn, therefore the best time to catch and eat this delicious fish is in July.