Each month, the French Department for Agriculture releases a list of what’s in season along with suggestions on how to cook it. Here’s what it recommends for the summer months…
If you’re lucky enough to be in France at the moment, or simply want to recreate a taste of France at home, France’s Ministère de l’Agriculture et de l’Alimentation can tell you exactly what to put on your shopping list as summer bursts into life.
FRUIT & VEG
Green peppers are perfect for adding a bitter, peppery bite to a curry, while red peppers will add plenty of rich sweetness to a ratatouille. Or try roasting a mixture in the oven and serving with a cold salad or rice and anchovies.
Earthy with a bitter tang, chard is best fried with garlic and lemon and then bake it with ricotta and pine nuts. Get cooking quickly though as it doesn’t last very well.
The fresh hint of aniseed makes fennel a beautifully sensory addition to summer dishes. Slice the bulb into thin strips and baked with trout. The Department for Agriculture also suggests cooking it over a low heat in a tagine with other summer vegetables, honey and almonds. They even reckon you can make fennel jam!
It’s well and truly cherry season, with sweet, juicy varieties perfect for eating including Bigarreau, Burlat, Cœur de bœuf and Reverchon, If you’re looking for tarter fruit to use in jams and alcoholic drinks, check out Guigne and rouge des Vosges.
France produces a wide variety of apricots – around 30, no less! − between June and August, all with different tastes and shapes. The Orangé de Provence is especially aromatic, while the Bergarouge is plump and juicy. Or perhaps the Abricot rouge du Roussillon AOC, with its pretty freckles and peachy tones will set your taste buds tingling.
Melons (not technically a fruit but a member of the cucurbitaceae family – still, you’ll find it in the fruit aisle!) is apparently the third most consumed ‘fruit’ in France… possibly in the form of calissons, a sweet treat of candied fruit and ground almonds topped with royal icing.
MEAT & FISH
Trout and crab are especially good at the moment. Cook simply with a seasoning of tarragon and a hint of cognac.
Valençay is an AOP goat cheese from Centre-Val-de-Loire with a slightly grainy texture making it perfect for serving baked with a drizzle of honey on a bed of peppery salad leaves.
Fleur du maquis hails from Corsica and is coated with herbs such as rosemary, oregano, marjoram and thyme. Made from pasteurised sheep’s milk, its light texture and acidity contrast well with intense floral aromas.
Langres is similar to Époisses and Munster. It has an orange rind and is on the whiffy side, though it’s not overpowering on the palate. Use this AOP cheese to make a sauce to accompany roast veal.