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All year round

All year round

All year round

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Apples

The apple tree was the earliest to ever be cultivated. In Scotland, a recent surge of interest has seen new orchards being planted with heritage cultivars. Good Scottish varieties to look out for include: Coul Blush, our most northerly growing apple from Coul in Ross-shire – gold coloured, with sweet tasting, soft flesh; James Grieve, pleasantly acidic and refreshing, was developed at the end of 19th century, and Beauty of Moray - first recorded in 1883 - originated in the Moray Firth area. A green apple, it has crisp white flesh.

Donnie Macleod
Founder and Director of Macleod Organics

Blackcurrants

The blackcurrant is native to the temperate parts of Northern Europe and likes damp fertile soils. It is winter hardy, but cold weather in the spring will reduce the size of its crop. The fruit is produced on one year old shoots, and the bush should be severely pruned back to two buds above ground level to encourage new shoots. 95% of the blackcurrants grown in the UK were bred in Scotland.

Donnie Macleod

Founder and Director of Macleod Organics

Blueberries Brambles (cultivated)

Our best and most gathered berry is commoner and often bears better fruit on the west, although excellent and under-used patches can be found on Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat. No cultivated berry can touch wild brambles for flavour, especially when paired with apple. The season is usually September to the first frosts.

Fiona Martynoga

Forager and Writer

Meat & game

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Common snipe (from 12th) Duck (wild, below HWM until 20th) Grey squirrel

These ‘tree rats’ were released into Britain in 1876, and have largely replaced the native, smaller and more beautiful red squirrel. Largely seen as vermin, if you want to get a bit quirky on your menu it is a great addition. They are not easy to get hold of, but go very well with garlic and lemon. Find a friendly local gamekeeper/landowner and every time he shoots or traps a squirrel ask him to put it in his freezer until you have enough for a special.

Jeremy Dixon

Sales and Marketing Director, Ochil Foods

Beef Chicken Grey squirrel

These ‘tree rats’ were released into Britain in 1876, and have largely replaced the native, smaller and more beautiful red squirrel. Largely seen as vermin, if you want to get a bit quirky on your menu it is a great addition. They are not easy to get hold of, but go very well with garlic and lemon. Find a friendly local gamekeeper/landowner and every time he shoots or traps a squirrel ask him to put it in his freezer until you have enough for a special.

Jeremy Dixon

Sales and Marketing Director, Ochil Foods

Guinea fowl Pork Rabbits (wild)

The majority of breeding happens in spring, and therefore prime trapping and shooting time is generally June/July until November, weather depending. Despite the large numbers we see in the fields, rabbits are relatively hard to come by in any volume, mainly because the price the end consumer is prepared to pay leaves little in it for a rabbit catcher or rifle shot to make a living. This is changing slowly, but rabbit tends not to be the cheap meat you might expect.

Jeremy Dixon

Sales and Marketing Director, Ochil Foods

Rose veal

Properly reared, rose veal is the most sustainable meat. Due to harsh rearing methods banned in the UK since 1990, eating veal has long had an image of being cruel, yet perversely we remain happy to drink milk with little thought to the bullocks born to produce it. Thankfully attitudes are changing to catch up with Britain’s humane rose veal husbandry practises. Make sure your veal is Scottish/British and rose, i.e. 35 weeks or older (8-12 months).

Jeremy Dixon

Sales and Marketing Director, Ochil Foods

Venison (farmed)

Venison can be substituted for beef as it is a lean red meat and lower in cholesterol. The best roasting cuts are fillet, saddle, loin and haunch but because there is little fat it needs to cook quickly or be well protected from the heat. The tougher cuts can be stewed and venison sausages are now widely available.

Fiona Burrell

Principal and Founder of the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School

Wood pigeon (most likely spring/autumn)

It is legal to shoot wood pigeon all year round; this is usually done by using decoys to fool them into flighting in to land near a hide. In Scotland this is easiest when farmers are drilling (spring) or harvesting (late summer, early autumn), making these the times when you are most likely to get fresh pigeon. This is not to say it will be unavailable at other times, however, as there are numerous other variables at play.

Jeremy Dixon

Sales and Marketing Director, Ochil Foods