Summer fruits: Don’t let them pass you by
Date: 16-06-2017 published by Nick Baines
The window of opportunity is small when it comes to British summer fruits, and that’s before we even begin to talk about the fleeting weather that is here one minute, gone the next.
With changeable seasons and disruptive UK weather, there’s no guaranteed time when fruits will be in their prime and it takes great farmers, accurate buying and speedy delivery to ensure our customers get what’s ripe, juicy and intensely flavourful at exactly the right time.
But this continuous shuffle doesn’t mean you have to keep rewriting your menus. Breakfast and brunch, one of the fastest growing commercial mealtimes in the UK, is the perfect place to showcase the abundance of British summer fruit. From medleys of ripe berries spilled over stacks of fluffy American style pancakes, to quick unsweetened fruit compotes and coulis that can be slung across tangy Greek style yoghurts, airy Belgian waffles and infused into vibrant bircher mueslis.
However, the sharper fruits such as gooseberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants are also prime for a number of dishes, from champagne jellies, to granitas and sorbets. The acidity spike in these berries make them perfect for tempering very sweet desserts, or mellowing out cocktails and alcoholic fizz.
This is also the opportune moment to capture the bright freshness of British summertime to use at a later date. Jamming and preserving in-house is a practice of many a popular trendsetting restaurant and the results can be pulled out come the bleak months of autumn and winter when vibrancy and acidity is sparse. Redcurrant jellies and intense pickled fruit is of course a deft accompaniment to bust out when game is in season – and ‘The Glorious Twelfth’ is actually a lot closer than you might think, so preparing things like this in advance could be a solid move.
Depending on your food business setting, cream teas may very well be the order of the day right now. And either concocting house made jams for your clotted cream and scones, or perhaps knocking up something a little leftfield, like a gooseberry jam, or a fresh raspberry and cardamom preserve, could flex some of your practical kitchen knowhow.
Of course the growing popularity in cold pressed juices has given way to a wide range of juice bars up and down the country and riper fruit used in season, results in more intense fruit and often, more juice upon extraction.
The cherry strikes that amazing balance between juicy sweetness and tart acidity, and one of the most underutilised crops balance. This makes the cherry one of the most versatile ingredients in the summer pantry and arms
chefs with a base note for everything from Black Forest gateaux, to succulent conserves.
With such an abundance of delicious, home grown produce, the options are blown wide open, making this one of the most exciting times in the culinary calendar. However you choose to embrace the intensity of summer fruit, make sure you get what’s in it’s absolute prime condition and use it in as many ways as you can.
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