Eating with the seasons is a wonderful way to connect with nature, all the while saving you money and aiding sustainability. When you buy seasonal ingredients, their freshness is unmatched, and if they’re grown the UK, you know they've not travelled far to reach your plate. August heralds late-summer crops that need a little boost of warm weather to grow and ripen, like summer squashes and stone fruits.
What fruit and vegetables are in season in August?
Garlic - homegrown garlic should be ready to harvest now, when the lower leaves begin to soften and discolour. Once lifted, keep in a dry, dark place. Garlic is a versatile aromatic, lending itself to nearly all cuisines. Add it into a rich meat ragu, use it in the base of a delicate Thai noodle soup, crush it with spices into a fragrant curry paste, or roast cloves of it with new potatoes. Struggling with your chopping technique? Brush up with our guide to preparing garlic.
Leeks - leeks are a simple vegetable that can be tricky to prepare and cook perfectly. It’s a good idea to split a leek lengthways and wash thoroughly if your recipe allows, as sandy dirt can often get trapped between the layers, ruining any dish it comes into contact with. Leeks can be tough if undercooked, so make sure you cook them on a lower heat for a longer time to get them as tender as possible.
Mushrooms - we don’t recommend picking your own mushrooms without an expert on hand to check they're edible, but trusted greengrocers and farm shops should have some more uncommon mushrooms in stock. Look out for delicate chanterelles and earthy ceps at this time of year, which are both delicious simply fried in butter. Be sure to clean and chop your mushrooms properly with our top tips, too.
Onions - the backbone of cookery, every good recipe starts with an onion, but why not let it be the star of the show? Make a French onion soup or serve a slice of pissaladiere as a satisfying lunch.
Plums - plucked and enjoyed straight from the tree, a ripe plum is a late-summer treat. Sweetest when in season, their perfumed flesh needs no cooking, but if you must, turn your plums into a crumble or, if you’ve a real glut, a delightfully sticky jam, so you can enjoy the fruit year round.
Summer squashes - with courgette being the most popular of them all, summer squashes grow in abundance. Harvest the flowers if you can, as they make a delicate and delectable starter when stuffed with ricotta, battered and fried. Shred courgette into ribbons for a low-carb pasta alternative, or if your courgettes become marrows, slice thinly, salt well and roast with plenty of olive oil until dark golden and tender.
Sweetcorn - sweet (as the name would suggest!) and bursting with colour, corn is a real family favourite. Available all year round frozen, buying fresh cobs in the summertime means optimum flavour. If you're grilling yours on the BBQ this August, we've got plenty of interesting ideas for toppings, while a zingy sweetcorn salad can be served warm or cold.
Tomatoes - the sheer variety of tomatoes available these days mean there's one for every occasion. Whether they’re petite piccolo or big beef tomatoes, if they’re ripe then all you need to do to enjoy them is slice and salt. Layer with torn buffalo mozzarella and lashings of olive oil for a chic side salad.
Strawberries - strawberries in August are unrivalled, as it's the peak of their season. The best of the crop will smell as good as they look, so do give them a sniff (packaging permitting) before you buy. Strawberries don’t have to be just for sweet dishes either, as they pair well with savoury flavours like smoked salmon.
Also in August, the cabbage family of kohlrabi and turnips come to fruition. Sweetheart cabbage makes an appearance, as does beetroot’s cousin, Swiss chard. Softer veg like lettuce, peas, peppers, mangetout, samphire, sorrel, rocket, runner beans, spring onions and watercress are also in season and make easy summer side dishes. Greengages, loganberries, redcurrants and raspberries are ripe for the picking, and though it feels early, parsnips, pumpkin and potatoes are all cropping up as well.