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Summer Fruits & Vegetables to Eat
Summer is the absolute perfect time to enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables and you certainly aren’t stuck for choice when it comes to the range of seasonal produce on offer. If you want to see what’s on offer all year round, take a look at our Ultimate Fruit and Vegetable Season Calendar. Read on to see what fruits and vegetables are in season in the summer, why they are good for you and some tasty suggestions of how to enjoy them.
Whilst we do see the summer solstice mid June (which means the nights start drawing in!), but don’t let that fool you into thinking there is no amazing fruit and vegetables in season. In fact, there is an abundance of choice on offer, from sweet apricots and peas to asparagus and aubergine.
Strawberries are available imported all year round, but the great British strawberry season runs from late May to early September, and is the perfect time to find yourself a local strawberry picking spot (lots of farms open their doors for you to pick your own) Look for plump, shiny and tender strawberries to know you’re getting the best. Strawberries are another great source of vitamin C, as well as vitamin K, folic acid, fibre and potassium. They also contain flavonoids and phytonutrients, which give them their bright red colour. Strawberries are best enjoyed raw – their sweetness packs the most flavour!
Similarly to strawberries, tomatoes are available in many different varieties imported from Europe all year round, but British tomato season runs from June to October – and you could even try your hand at growing your own at this time of year. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which is the antioxidant giving them the punchy red colour. Lycopene is linked to many health benefits – including reduced risk of heart disease. Tomatoes can be enjoyed a variety of ways, from being the base in pasta sauces and casseroles, to becoming the perfect side to a summer BBQ. Add a bit of basil and mozzarella for a really special flavour combination. And yes, tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable!
Asparagus is coming to the end of its season in June, but is still worth a mention as it’s such a brilliantly versatile vegetable and so delicious. Asparagus is another great source of fibre, as well as folate and vitamin K, among other vitamins and minerals. Asparagus is ideal for a summer side with Parmesan and olive oil, or sautéed in a pan with a sprinkling of black pepper.
Aubergine is at it’s best from late May to mid October, and whilst it might be a love it or hate it kind of vegetable, the humble aubergine has a lot to offer (in flavour and nutrients). Aubergines (or eggplants) are a naturally good source of vitamin B1, B6 and potassium. In addition it is high in minerals such as magnesium, manganese and copper – all of which offer a host of health benefits. Aubergine is really delicious roasted in the oven with olive oil. Try roasting with some honey, soy sauce and sesame seeds for a really tasty combination.
Carrots are at the best late May to September, so June to August is the perfect time to enjoy this bright orange vegetable. You might think carrot as more of a winter vegetable (roast dinner anyone?), but carrots can also be shredded to make delicious coleslaw, light carrot fritters or even a carrot and yogurt dip. Carrots are high in beta-carotene, which gives them their bright orange colour. Having said that, you can also find carrots in a variety of colours, including purple, yellow, white and red.
Fresh peas are at the peak mid May to October and despite their size, pack a lot of nutritional punch. Peas are a type of legume and are grown inside a pod. Interestingly the sugars in peas quickly start to starch a few hours after picking, which is why frozen peas are often much superior in taste to fresh peas. Green peas are full of vitamin K and manganese – both attributed to aiding bone growth. Enjoy peas in a fresh salad with mint or even with pancetta and red onions.
As we reach mid summer, a host of new fruit and vegetables come into season, which means you’re really spoilt for choice. Many of the fruit and vegetables in season in June, are also in season in July – making your list of options even longer!
Plump, shiny cherries are at their best mid July, so make sure you enjoy these in abundance whilst you can. There are many varieties of cherries, which will very much impact the flavour of the packet you pick up. Some are sweet, whilst some have more of a bitter twang. Cherries are very well known for their antioxidant properties and a portion of 14 cherries counts as one of your five a day. Enjoy cherries in jams, puddings or just as they are – just remember to eat around the stone!
Redcurrants are another little known berry, distinctive in their bright red exterior and minimal size and are at their peak season in July through to September. Their flavour is tarter than other berries, but still sweet enough for many to enjoy raw. Redcurrants are especially good for vitamin C and vitamin B, as well as potassium. Some studies also attribute it to lowering blood pressure and playing an important role in cardiovascular health.
Another vegetable bursting with colour and unique flavour, beetroots are best enjoyed in July and definitely worth trying, if you haven’t previously. You will spot a beetroot because it’s bright purple and has a very distinct flavour. Beetroot is a root vegetable and full of nutrients, such as folate, manganese, potassium, vitamin C and iron (to name a few!) Betanin is the compound in beetroot which makes it pop with colour. Beetroots are often enjoyed pickled and sliced up in a salad. We would definitely recommend making this an addition to your next salad spread.
• Cavolo Nero
You might not of previously heard of cavolo nero, but it’s another seasonal green vegetable which is typically grown in Tuscany in Italy. It’s considered a ‘loose leaf cabbage’ and has a tangy bitter flavour, with a sweet aftertaste. It is particularly delicious sautéed with garlic, or dressed in salad. Cavolo nero has been dubbed the ‘new kale’ and it’s true it certainly has a lot of nutritional content. It is full of antioxidants, high in vitamins and minerals including lutein, which is also known as the ‘eye vitamin’, as studies have attributed it to huge benefits to eye health.
Summer is drawing to a close, but we know the nice weather often lasts until September, which means there is plenty of time to still enjoy light summer dishes, featuring some of these fruit and vegetables.
Blackberries are at their prime for picking in August and picking spots can be found across the UK. Blackberries are tarter than a strawberry or raspberry for example and they really are best enjoyed fresh, they won’t last too long unless frozen without losing flavour. Blackberries are also a good source of vitamin C and dietary fibre in the multitudinous tiny seeds. Blackberries are lovely with a little sugar if you like it sweeter and delicious in jams, tarts or part of a summer fruit salad.
Figs are a super versatile fruit and are available from August to September. They aren’t particularly ‘juicy’, which makes them a very popular addition to salads or savoury combinations, such as figs and cheese. Figs enclose hundreds of seeds in a fibrous skin. Figs are a great source of soluble fibre, which can keep you fuller for longer and are excellent for aiding digestion. They are also packed with an abundance of other vitamins and minerals. Enjoy figs drizzled in honey as they are, with nuts or pop into a salad with a balsamic dressing.
Courgettes (also known as zucchinis) are available from early summer to mid autumn, making August a perfect time to enjoy this summer vegetable. Courgettes are full of vital vitamins we need for a healthy body, including vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. It’s ample vitamin A content is attributed to a healthy immune system. Courgettes are incredibly adaptable, and can be enjoyed in many ways. Roasted with olive oil or shredded to make zucchini fritters are both popular ways to enjoy courgette.
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