One of the best ways of enjoying fruit and vegetables at their best and saving money is to choose produce that’s in season. Supermarkets offer us the ‘choice’ of buying practically any item all year round, but this comes at a huge cost to the environment as it often involves shipping them from another continent.
In February we’re coming towards the end of the winter season and approaching the ‘hungry gap’ before the first spring vegetables arrive. Root vegetables such as potatoes, swede, parsnips, carrots and beetroot are still plentiful, as are winter leaves such as brussels sprouts, cabbage and kales. Pumpkins and squashes store well and provide the basis of a range of warming dishes and thick soups. Leeks and onions complement other ingredients well, or make interesting dishes in their own right.
By March, much of the winter veg is coming to an end and we wait for the first of the spring veg to come into season. Of course, potatoes and onions continue to be available, as do a variety of mushrooms, and the last of the savoy cabbage is also to be found. But there is also something of a treat in store. Purple sprouting broccoli has been growing since last spring and is finally ready to harvest. Although related to calabrese (the vegetable we know as broccoli) it has a slender, more delicate shape and wonderful sweet flavour when fresh. Purple sprouting broccoli can be eaten raw as a wonderful crudite, steamed or stir-fried and can stand strong flavours as well as rich and creamy sauces.