August’s arrival means prime English Strawberries, Broad Beans and Peas fade out of the picture and Plums, Runner Beans and sweet Corn-on-the-Cob come into view. The Cherries, which we’ve enjoyed throughout July, stay with us into August, getting ever darker and sweeter in summer’s heat until Plums edge them out of the picture. This is the month when southern European Peaches, Nectarines, Greengages, Apricots, Tomatoes and Melons are bursting with juice and flavour.
Here is a taster of the things you can expect to find at Puntarelle & Co in the month of August:
Runner Beans arrive and are at their best early in the season when they’re at their most tasty and tender. Towards the end of harvest they become tougher and need de-stringing and extra cooking time.
Bobbi Beans start to come in too, a good alternative to French Beans.
In good years, fresh Peas retain their sweetness and they, along with Broad Beans are likely to be around into early August.
August is the month for English-grown Sweetcorn, always a way behind its French counterpart.
We expect to have Fresh Coco de Paimpol (Coco Beans) right through August.
This is the month to look out for English grown Aubergines.
Summer Squash, including Courgettes and Patty Pan are more plentiful now.
The second crop of Broccoli, both purple and white, usually makes an appearance now and English Chard is reaching its best.
Borlotti Beans are in peak season now. The beautifully red and cream podded beans cook down to a lovely softness in around 30 minutes. They also preserve extremely well, either by drying the podded beans or by storing them in your freezer (no hassle of re-hydrating them later). Just don’t expect them to keep their colour on cooking.
The summer Tomatoes are wonderfully juicy, including Cuore di Bue (Ox Heart) and Vesuvio.
The English Cherry season continues into August, overlapping with the start of the Plum season. Victorias and Opals are always the first to ripen here, soon to be followed by bloomy, red-purple Marjorie Seedlings.
Later in August we see the first of the English Apple crop coming though our doors. The sweetly-perfumed Discovery Apple is always the first to arrive.
We can look forward to plump, juicy Blackberries too.
The Currants usually extend into August so you can expect to find Blackcurrants and, possibly, Redcurrants.
We may also see some Kent Cobnuts late in the month.
Sweet, honeyed Reine Claude (Greengage) Plums begin to arrive from France and greengage-style plums from Italy too.
The best tasting Apricots arrive now and we try hard to source good ones from Italy and, we hope, some Bergeron Apricots which are good for eating and for preserving.
Also look out for some luscious Black Figs.
French Blood Peaches and Nectarines arrive riper and tastier than the late July crops. Their touch of sharpness marks these stone fruits out from the non-blood varieties of Peaches and Nectarines which are more reliably sweet.
The fantastically aromatic Fragola Grape arrives this month and usually takes us into early autumn.
Melon varieties become ever more fragrant and juicy in August. Expect to see Honey Moon Melons and refreshing Watermelons throughout the month.
London Fermentary News:
August is a very busy and inspiring month for London Fermentary as there are so many fantastic fruits and vegetables to choose from for our Water Kefirs and Fermented Veg.
Water Kefir flavours for August include:
Blackcurrant which is not only particularly delicious and good for your gut health but is packed with Vitamin C.
Raspberry, a London Fermentary favourite.
Fragola Grape, which was a very popular flavour last year.
Lime Tree Blossom, which proves that this fragrant blossom is good not just for making a tisane.
Fermented Vegetables include:
Our new Kimchi Spread which has all the benefits of our our regular Kimchi in a, for some, more convenient and useable form.
To celebrate this time of high summer, here’s a reminder that those seasonal Apricots can make a delicious ice cream. This recipe is from the Kitty Travers’ book La Grotta Ices. It’s lusciously fruity and creamy with a slight bitter marzipan flavour. I can’t recommend her book highly enough, both for the recipes and the evocative writing. Here’s a taster.
Apricot Noyau Ice Cream
Recipe by kind permission of Square Peg and Kitty Travers
(makes approx. 1 litre or 10 good scoops)
About 375g fresh apricots
170ml whole milk
170ml double cream
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
To prepare the ice cream: slice the apricots in half and remove the stones; keep these to one side. Cook the apricot halves very lightly just until the fruit collapses. If using a microwave, place the fruit in a heatproof bowl with a tablespoon of water. Cover the bowl with cling film and cook on high for 2-3 minutes until tender. Otherwise simmer the apricot halves gently in a non-reactive pan, just until they are cooked through and piping hot (do not boil). Cool in a sink of iced water then cover and chill in the fridge.
Place a clean tea towel on a hard surface, then line the apricot stones up along the middle of the towel. Fold the tea towel in half over the apricot stones to cover them and then firmly crack each stone with a rolling pin (the tea towel prevents bits of the shell from flying all over the kitchen). Try to hit hard enough to crack the shell, but not so energetically that you completely obliterate it - you want to be able to rescue the kernels from inside the shell afterwards.
Pick the tiny kernel from each shell then grind them in a pestle and mortar with 20g of the sugar.
Heat the milk, cream and the ground kernel mix in a pan, stirring often with a whisk or silicone spatula to prevent it catching. As soon as the milk is hot and steaming, whisk the yolks with the remaining sugar and honey (if using) until combined.
Pour the hot liquid over the yolk mix in a thin stream, whisking constantly as you do so, then return all the mix to the pan. Cook gently over a low heat, stirring all the time, until the mix reaches 82°C. As soon as your digital thermometer says 82°C, remove the pan from the heat and set it in a sink full of iced water to cool – you can speed up the process by stirring it every so often. Once entirely cold, pour the custard into a clean container, cover and chill in the fridge.
To make the ice cream: the following day, use a spatula to scrape the chilled apricots into the custard then blend together with a stick blender until very smooth – blitz for at least 2 minutes, or until there are only small flecks of apricot skin visible in the mix. Using a small ladle, push the apricot custard through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois into a clean container, squeezing hard to extract as much smooth custard mix as possible. Discard the bits of skin and kernel.
Pour the custard into an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions, usually about 20-25 minutes, or until frozen and the texture of whipped cream.
Transfer the ice cream to a suitable lidded container. Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air, cover and freeze until ready to serve.