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It is June the 1st as I write this at the kitchen table on a stunningly beautiful morning. The sun has just come up, the birds are singing and the fields and hedges are a lush green. The summer solstice and the beginning of shorter days are not far away now and the year is fast disappearing !
June really brings an abundance of delicious fruits and vegetables and I will be making the most of these as much as I can.
So what is in Season in June,
Strawberries are at their peak in June, look out for locally grown Irish strawberries and if you can get them from a local grower (we are lucky to have many around here in County Armagh and Tyrone) even better. I love to have them just on their own or with a few juicy blueberries but they are especially good on a pavlova or meringues or in a whisked sponge cake with some double cream. I will be making ice cream and sorbet and the classic strawberry jam of course, which traditionally has to made before July 12th.
I will be using lots of lovely summer berries including local strawberries in my Summer Baking Class.
When I was a young child my father had two fields of gooseberries and children came from around the country to pick them from the thorny bushes. Tart, green and hard gooseberries are not a popular crop and you rarely see them here in shops. They are delicious in a classic gooseberry tart made with buttery shortcrust pastry and for many years I made gooseberry jam which I sold at St. George’s Market in Belfast. The elderflowers are in the hedges at the same time as the gooseberries ripen and can be added to the jam for a subtle floral flavour.
I will be talking all things preserving and making lots of jams in my Summer and Autumn Preserving classes.
Look out for UK and Irish cherries, the season is short-lived. I don’t often use cherries for cooking or baking but I do have high hopes of making a black forest gateau which was always a childhood favourite of mine. I have tried making jam with them but they are very low in pectin.
What else, Potatoes of course, new potatoes for salads and simply boiled with our lovely Irish butter and new season Cyprus potatoes are in the shops now. All the lovely herbs are springing up again in the garden, namely oregano, parsley, mint, thyme and sage. Nasturtium and borage flowers if you have them growing are a lovely colourful addition to a green salad. My broad beans are coming on and best when freshly picked, small and tender but you should be able to find lovely broad beans from Italy and then the UK in the shops now.
And my first ever homegrown garlic looks like it is almost ready to harvest.
The green coloured Cantaloupe and Chantareis melons have lovely orange flesh and are great in June. Delicious served simply with some prosciutto and they also make a lovely sorbet.