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June

Summer begins to spoil us with the choice of great Scottish produce, particularly soft fruits. Scotland, and traditionally Perthshire, is famed for these, with polytunnels helping extend the season.

June

Summer begins to spoil us with the choice of great Scottish produce, particularly soft fruits. Scotland, and traditionally Perthshire, is famed for these, with polytunnels helping extend the season.

Calendar Key

  • Best quality
  • Limited availability
  • Reduced quality

Fish & seafood

Lobster

Lobsters are available all year, but it’s good to be aware of females with eggs – for obvious reasons, these are best left in the sea. Most lobsters moult in summer and hibernate in winter: as a result their meat-to-water ratio is normally highest in spring/early summer and autumn, which makes the higher per kilo prices at that time deceptive.

Jeremy Dixon

Sales and Marketing Director, Ochil Foods

Megrim Plaice

Unlike Dover sole, plaice is best eaten as fresh as possible as the flavour quickly fades. Whole fish are easily identified by distinctive orange spots, which also indicate freshness – the brighter the spots, the fresher the plaice. As pronounced a flavour as lemon sole, it takes sauces and other flavours very well, and is great for battering. Best avoided when in roe (around February to April), as the flesh is thin and watery.

Seafish

Langoustine

Creel-caught langoustines are fished for all year round, subject to the weather. Langoustines moult in May, when they can be more difficult to catch as they bury themselves underground. The ultimate langoustine will arrive live in your kitchen capable of drawing blood! However this is not easy to achieve as they are difficult to transport live. Many fishermen will chill langoustine before packing them, so they are lifeless but remain extremely fresh.

Jeremy Dixon

Sales and Marketing Director, Ochil Foods

Monkfish

An ugly fish with a huge head, accounting for half the fish’s weight. Usually only the tails are sold: once skinned, trimmed and the membrane removed, the tails yield some fantastic meat, with a firm, meaty texture and a taste similar to langoustine. In the 1970s monkfish was only fished commercially as a cheap scampi substitute! The liver is also highly prized, and is a delicacy in Japan where it determines the price of the fish.

Seafish

Oysters (Pacific)

Three main varieties are available in the UK – native, Pacific (or rock), and Portuguese. The native (available September to April) is considered the best, but takes twice as long to grow, making it more expensive. Pacifics are available year round. Oysters should feel heavy for their size and be kept with the round ‘cupped’ part of the shell facing downwards to retain the moisture.

Seafish

Cod Coley

An alternative to cod and haddock, also known as saithe. A long tapered body, with a slight blue tint, coley range from 500g to 6kg but are usually only available as fillets. Coley can be a good buy, but needs to be as fresh as possible. The flesh is often a dull off-white colour which lightens during cooking, and has a fine flavour.

Seafish

Haddock

A member of the cod family, haddock is not usually available beyond 3.5kg so is not good for steaks or suprêmes. The flesh has a slightly sweeter taste, making haddock the best whitefish for smoking. Finnan haddock originated in the Scottish fishing village of Findon, and Arbroath smokies are small whole haddock, gutted and headed, then dry salted and hot smoked.

Seafish

Hake

Surprisingly not more popular in the UK – a large proportion of the UK catch goes to the Spanish, Portuguese and Italians. A long, round, slender body is mainly grey and silver in colour: its shape makes it great for cutting into steaks or loin suprêmes. The flesh is quite soft, but firms up on cooking and has a good flavour.

Seafish

Herring

"Herring range in size from 100-450g and are best grilled or baked whole, though a traditional Scottish recipe rolls them in oatmeal before frying in bacon fat. As with all oil-rich fish, they benefit from a sharp sauce. Most popular in their various smoked and cured forms, and as avruga – a great alternative to caviar."

Seafish

Lemon sole

Lemons have an oval body, more rounded than a Dover, with a lighter, yellowy-brown dark side. Sweet delicate flesh is ideal for any sole recipes, and works especially well with creamy white wine sauces. As well as being a great fish cooked on the bone, fillets are always popular, and are great for rolling around a filling (delice), then steaming or baking.

Seafish

Ling Mackerel

Ranging in size from 200-800g, mackerel has a bullet shaped body and silvery-blue skin with dark wavy stripes. One of the richest sources of omega-3, mackerel has greyish flesh with a rich flavour, which is best grilled or baked. As with most oil-rich fish, it is good for smoking, and makes a great paté. While herring provides the best alternative, mackerel is closely related to tuna, bonito, kingfish and wahoo.

Seafish

Mussels

Rope grown mussels are farmed and grown from the sprat of wild stock, and in Scotland have been granted Sustainable Status by the Marine Stewardship Council. Recommended over wild, they are sustainable and give a better product: free of grit as they don’t touch the sea bed, with thinner shells and more meat. Although mussels are available all year, production will be limited during an algae bloom (on average twice annually).

Jeremy Dixon

Sales and Marketing Director, Ochil Foods

Razor clams

There are several varieties of clam; all are round and stone-like except the razor clam [nicknamed spoots in Scotland], so called because it resembles a cut-throat razor. Amande, hardshell, Venus and razor clams are the most common varieties. Palourdes (or carpet shell) are considered the finest clams and command a much higher price.

Seafish

Sea bass (wild) Sea trout (to 14th) Squid Turbot

Vegetables

Beetroot

The most versatile of vegetables, beetroot has so many uses. It can be boiled; peeled and served cold in salads; grated raw and stir fried very quickly in walnut oil and flavoured with orange zest and juice; or grated and put into cakes with chocolate, to name but a few. " Fiona Burrell Principal and Founder of the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School " Probably Scotland’s most neglected and versatile vegetable is available almost all year. Baby beet is one of the first veg of the year – sweet, with tops like its cousin ruby chard, it needs no peeling. Different varieties have different sweetness: the glorious stick-of-rock chioggia, startlingly golden with its pink concentric circles, is not really sweet at all.

Patricia Stephen

Owner of Phantassie Organic Growers

Runner beans Asparagus Broad beans Cabbages

So many and so old fashioned, or a source of good food value? Spring greens love bacon, pyramid cabbages hug butter, winter cabbages sup up gravy, while hard cabbage is good at slow cooking and at being raw and crunchy. All are easily available, and even if the outer leaves are a little ragged or tired, their heart will be in the right place.

Patricia Stephen 

Owner of Phantassie Organic Growers

Cauliflower Celery (green & winter) Chillies Courgettes Cucumber Endive Kohlrabi (green)

Nearly all brassicas grow happily in Scotland. Oriental greens (cabbage’s cousins) are vitamin rich, cook quickly, and grow all year round except in hot summers. The exception is emerald green calabrese broccoli, a foreign interloper best regarded as a summer visitor as frost upsets it. Sprouting broccoli is a better native bet: frost intensifies the flavour, with the best on stream from February to April. Like all purple headed brassicas, the flower sprouts go bright green on cooking. Kohlrabi, another Continental visitor, is less temperamental than calabrese. Pale green globes are seen in spring, and purple ones in spring and autumn. Optimally tennis-to-cricket ball size, they are the best big brassica to eat raw. Brussels sprouts are best bought on the stalk after a good frost: the smallest are sweetest, the biggest good for shredding.

Patricia Stephen 

Owner of Phantassie Organic Growers

Lettuce Mangetout New potatoes

New potatoes are dug carefully out of the ground before the skin has set: you can rub the skin off, and they’re sold fresh and smelling of earth. Not ‘baby’ potatoes, they can be any size, though early summer varieties are mostly waxy salad/boilers. They should be finishing by September.

Patricia Stephen 

Owner of Phantassie Organic Growers, founding director of Earthy Foods and Goods

Onions Pak choi Peas (shell) Radish (summer) Summer squash

From courgettes through custard yellow scallopini to marrows and spaghetti squash, these grow easily in Scotland. They do not store well, but are quick to sauté, steam, stuff and make buttery summery soups with little preparation. The flowers are deliciously edible, females usually being sold with a small “fruit” attached and males just plain.

Patricia Stephen 

Owner of Phantassie Organic Growers

Herbs & wild food

Field mushrooms

Found from June until November, a field habitat is critical to identification. Be sure of this, especially to avoid yellow-staining mushrooms which cause sickness. If you don’t know your fungi, find a collector who does to enjoy the real, earthy flavour of mushrooms that cultivated ones seem to lack.

Fiona Martynoga

Forager and Writer

Basil Bishop's weed

Ground elder, bane of gardeners, has an aniseed taste. The tiniest leaves, before they are unfurled, make a delicious addition to salad, and the larger young leaves can be served like spinach. It’s best from April until June but young leaves can be found in mown areas much later in the summer.

Fiona Martynoga

Forager and Writer

Chives Common sorrel

Best in June, but available in many months where grass is cut, wild sorrel leaves have a fresh tang that will quickly flavour soup or sauces. Add them late to the cooking or use the youngest and most tender leaves in salads – they look like a small, smooth-leaved dock, and are in the same family as wood sorrel. The plant is common and will thrive on harvesting.

Fiona Martynoga

Forager and Writer

Dill Dulse

This common seaweed is a dark red, sometimes with purple tones. Its delicate, broad, flat blades are easy to harvest at low tide on clean rocky beaches (check SEPA website) between May and October. It has a rich, smoky taste and is versatile as a seasoning for fish and meat or as a vegetable in its own right.

Fiona Martynoga

Forager and Writer

Elderflowers

Pick the flat white flowerheads from this common bush of wasteland on a dry, sunny day for the best flavour. Delicious cooked with gooseberries or made into wines or cordials, the flavour is strong enough to invite experimentation, especially when used with lemon.

Fiona Martynoga

Forager and Writer

Fennel Garlic Garlic mustard

Its other name, Jack-by-the-hedge, describes the habitat of this biennial very well. The new growth of pale, heart-shaped, slightly crinkly leaves appears around October and can be harvested from then until the spring. Take only a few small leaves as they are pungent. Use in sauces or salads.

Fiona Martynoga

Forager and Writer

Good King Henry

Not common but easy to introduce to waste land where it self-seeds, this vigorous spinach family plant produces masses of edible flower shoots from April onwards, providing it is harvested regularly. Steamed lightly and buttered, it makes a useful and unusual ‘hungry gap’ vegetable.

Fiona Martynoga

Forager and Writer

Hogweed

You can’t confuse native hogweed with the giant variety because the latter is three times as tall as our own species. Common on roadsides and in wasteland from June to August, it is the flowering stems of hogweed that make an excellent vegetable. Pick when young and pliable, skin them, and steam for their interesting, slightly citrus, flavour.

Fiona Martynoga

Forager and Writer

Lemon balm Lovage Marjoram Marsh samphire Mint Nettles

The top 10cm of nettles before they flower are at their most delicious and least stringy. Harvested regularly from the same patch, the plants produce side shoots that can be used from April until the autumn. Best as soup, they can also be served as greens, or even raw in a pesto with surprising flavour.

Fiona Martynoga

Forager and Writer

Oregano Roses Sweet cicely Tarragon Vetch

The young flowering tips of many of the blue and purple vetches are delicious. The best of them taste strongly pea-like and are very sweet but some species are too furry or too stringy. Experiment with what grows near you and add to salads from May until late summer.

Fiona Martynoga

Forager and Writer

Fruit

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

Cherries Gooseberries

It is said that the flavour of a gooseberry improves with the latitude in which it is grown – Scotland, therefore, is ideally placed to grow these prickly bushes. Usually propagated from cuttings, they can be found among old ruins as they were grown extensively as a garden plant for many centuries. The red gooseberry is becoming popular for being sweeter than its green cousin.

Donnie Macleod

Founder and Director of Macleod Organics

Jostaberries

The shiny, black-fruited jostaberry is so called because it was developed as a cross between the blackcurrant and the gooseberry – respectively ‘(jo)hennisbeere’ and ‘(sta)chelbeere’ in German. The berries and the taste are somewhere between the size and taste of its parents. A big benefit when harvesting is that the bush is thornless.

Donnie Macleod

Founder and Director of Macleod Organics

Raspberries

Raspberries are an important fruit crop grown all over the temperate regions of Scotland, and the development of new varieties has extended the season from early summer right into late autumn. Although the traditional red variety is most popular, colours can range between black, purple and yellow. The fruit is formed on second year canes, cut out after fruiting.

Donnie Macleod

Founder and Director of Macleod Organics

Redcurrants Rhubarb

As the season progresses, rhubarb stems become thicker and redder. All rhubarb can be turned into wonderful pies, crumbles, fools, tarts and preserves. It needs sugar but matches well with oranges, ginger and strawberries. Add some to the sauce to go with game; it will give a decisive sharpness.

Fiona Burrell

Principal and Founder of the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School

Strawberries

In the 1300s, the French began taking wild strawberry plants from the forest and domesticating them in their gardens. Now the modern varieties are grown everywhere, with wide variation in seasonality, size and flavour. Most strawberries are propagated by runners which grow horizontally from the mother plant, then bud to form a new plant that can be cut off. Eight strawberries contain as much vitamin C as an orange.

Donnie Macleod

Founder and Director of Macleod Organics

Tomatoes

Once part of Scotland’s horticultural glory, the tomato industry was obliterated by cheap transport from sunnier climes and expensive heating. There is evidence that lycopene, the pigment that reddens tomatoes as they ripen, is good for us: British tomatoes have up to three times as much as imported, with much better flavour to boot. Although hothouse tomatoes start in May, the season for best flavour in red or traditional Scottish yellow is mid-June to the end of September. You are more likely to find them at farmers’ markets and farm shops than supermarkets.

Patricia Stephen 

Owner of Phantassie Organic Growers

Meat & game

Roe deer bucks

A lowland deer, found throughout the British Isles in large numbers. They are quite small, ranging from 15 - 35kg. Though there are also seasons around roe deer, like red deer the bucks can be shot year round to protect forestry and farming interests. Roe deer are extremely tender and flavoursome, often preferred by chefs to red deer: on the flip side they are much smaller and slightly more expensive.

Jeremy Dixon

Sales and Marketing Director, Ochil Foods

Other

Scottish honey

Scottish honey bees produce honey from April through to September. During April, May and June they visit mainly oilseed rape and other blossoming flowers. Many hives are placed in heather during June, July and August producing beautiful heather honey.

Jeremy Dixon

Sales and Marketing Director, Ochil Foods