2 July 2015

What's in season in July

Instead of listing what is in season in July, it may be easier to say what is not in season in July, at least in terms of fruit and veg. The high summer months of July and August are when vegetable growers reap their most significant harvest. In some cases being overwhelmed by gluts of beans, courgettes and other veg.

In the kitchen garden

By July, home-grown courgettes are ready to harvest. Courgettes are a hugely versatile vegetable, and can be picked small for use raw in salad, as well as being cooked in almost any way imaginable. If you grow your own, the flowers are a great delicacy, and can be eaten raw or stuffed and fried. If you find yourself with a glut, you can preserve courgettes by smoking them over the embers of a dying barbecue, then preserving them under oil.

Some legumes, like peas and broad beans, are in season in the UK from June, but the bulk, like runner beans, French beans (or haricots verts) and borlotti beans, come into season in July. A freshly picked home-grown runner bean usually tastes much better than its shop-bought cousin. I usually eat them hot, with butter or a shallot vinaigrette, or refresh them in cold water and use them cold in salads. Broad beans and peas, including mange tout, continue to be in season.

Plenty of salad crops are in season in July, as are carrots and beetroot. When they are fresh, beetroot tops are also delicious, and can be cooked like chard. In the UK, onions and garlic are often harvested in July. They will keep for months, but freshly harvested wet garlic is always worth looking out for, having a slightly softer flavour than when its skin dries.

There are a number of cabbage and kale varieties that can be picked in the summer. I tend to avoid these, and grow the bulk of my brassicas for the winter and spring, when there is little else in the veg patch. I do have some swedes and kohlrabi which I will be thinning out this month. The thinnings can be cooked like spring greens.

Tomatoes grown in a greenhouse or polytunnel are available in July. If, like me, you grow yours outdoors, you might get a few at the end of the month, but August is the main month for outdoor-grown tomatoes.

Finally, artichoke plants can fruit at various times of the summer, but often during July and August. I planted some new plants this spring, and have just picked the first artichoke from them.

British soft fruits


One of my favourite foodie things about summer is soft-fruit. And for British soft-fruit, July is the height of the season. Luscious strawberries, followed by cherries, loganberries, raspberries, currants and gooseberries. At home, I love eating the fruit as they are, but soft fruits also make great sorbets and ice creams. For a more substantial dessert, go for a summer pudding. If, as we do most years, my wife and I get carried away fruit-picking on a pick-your-own fruit farm, there is always jam making.

If you get bored of British soft fruits, there are also a great array of stone fruits available from southern Europe – like peaches, nectarines and apricots. Apricots make a great jam, which is also ideal for glazing tarts.


The summer months are a good time of year for mackerel and sardines, which swim northwards into British waters as sea temperatures rise. Both are robustly flavoured, and are particularly good on the barbecue. The oil in the fish is a great vehicle for the smoky flavours of the charcoal. Sea trout are also in season. A whole sea trout is relatively substantial in size, and a moderate sized fish should be enough to feed six. Traditionally, they are often poached. I have been enjoying roasting them whole, and serving them with a sorrel bearnaise.

Wild food

I find that July is not a great month for foraging. You might find a few elderflowers at the beginning of the month, but these are usually past their prime. In south-east England it is usually too hot and dry for mushrooms, though you might find some in the damper cooler conditions of Scotland.

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