When the days have grown in length,
When the sun has greater power,
Shining in his noonday strength;
When the Elder Tree's in flower;
When each shady kind of place
By the stream and up the lane,
Shows it's mass of creamy lace
Summer's really come again!
Cicely Mary Barker (1895-1973)
I have said it before and I will say it again . . . June is probably my favourite month, for no better reason than it is my birthday month, the days are getting longer and as a child I was firmly convinced of June’s magical properties; Mid Summer Day was full of faeries, enchantment and stories of future loves and I had no reason to disbelieve this. On my sixteenth birthday, I was given a bottle of homemade wine as a present, with a beautifully designed label entitled “Rachel’s Midsummer Magic” and I have been trying to maintain this feeling of enchantment ever since!
The elderflower comes into season – a plant that was once thought to have mystical qualities and the ability to protect us from witches. I am intending on getting my act together this year to make some elderflower wine (which should protect me from most things, although probably not an overwhelming desire to sing karaoke after a couple of glasses or two!)
As summer approaches, most of us Brits are praying for sun and a chance to picnic and barbecue, although most of the time it is a hopeless case as our summers seem to be getting even wetter. But we can still soldier on with lovely party food, such as lamb and feta bites, perfect whatever the weather.
But despite the weather, home-grown food really is coming into season, albeit a few weeks later than normal. My favourite English asparagus has a couple more weeks to go and my beloved broad beans and peas are here to stay for a while. Thank god! Tomatoes make their first appearance too and the lettuces are raring to go too. British strawberries are only weeks away, cause for celebration indeed - I shall definitely be making bucket-loads of jam this year, as last year my strawberry jam ran out far too quickly. I shall also definitely be making Eton Mess again, with my strawberry and hazelnut meringues. It is divine (she says modestly!)
Look out for Jersey Royals, the king of new potatoes, where the specific growing environment (island slopes, sea breezes and seaweed mulch) gives them an intense potato flavour.
vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (globe), asparagus, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli (calabrese), broom buds, cabbages (various varieties), carrots, cauliflower, chard, horseradish, lettuce, marrow, peas, peppers, sea spinach, tomatoes, turnips, wild fennel
fruit and nuts:
apples, cherries (European), elderflowers, gooseberries, pears, raspberries, redcurrants, rhubarb, strawberries, tayberries
meat and game:
chicken, lamb (welsh), mutton, pork, turkey, wood pigeon
fish and shellfish:
black bream, crab (spider), freshwater crayfish, cuttlefish, grey mullet, herring, mackerel, pilchards, pollack, prawns, river trout (brown and rainbow), salmon (wild), sardines, sea bass, sea trout, shrimp