Summer brings juicy, thirst quenching, scrumptious British fruit laden with components that give energy, ward off illness and keep our bodies’ cleansing processes working properly. Not to mention all the vitamins and minerals, and all for virtually no calories. Sample our delicious smoothie and juice recipes, or carry out your own experiments with an array of summer fruits and vegetables. Blending the ingredients means the goodness is digested into your system immediately, allowing you to reap the instant benefits.
Great British summer fruits
Berries have the highest antioxidant content of all fruits – five strawberries contain more power than three apples or four bananas. Low in fat, carbohydrates, and calories but high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, these delicious gems of flavour not only contribute to overall health, but may even help prevent cancer and heart disease, as well as slowing the ageing process. Berries can be used in many traditional sweet dishes such as trifles and they’re scrumptious in pies, jams and desserts. Combine for a mixed fruit pie or simply place in jelly as it sets for extra flavour.
These are delicious fresh and raw but you can also make raspberries into wine and vinegar. They were once regarded as a late summer fruit but with modern farming techniques the season has been extended from April to December. Raspberries from Scotland are usually the best but there are many varieties to enjoy and at just 24 calories per fifteen, they’re a nutritional delight.
Strawberries used to be regarded as an aphrodisiac; in the medieval times a soup made of strawberries, borage and soured cream was traditionally served to newlyweds at their breakfast. Nowadays the growing season begins in mid-April in Britain’s glasshouses, plants are dormant until February when they are prompted into growth with a little heat and lighting to fool the plants into thinking they are already into long warm days. By the second week of April the first fruits can be picked. In the summer tunnel-protected fruit production supplies the nation with the delicious berry until December. The Elsanta variety remains the most popular variety owing to its excellent flavour, shelf life and glossy quality. Strawberries are a great garnish for desserts and drinks; keep the berry firm by plunging into ice-cold water first.
Once known as brambleberries or brumblekites, delicious blackberries contain very high amounts of vitamin C and E for young and radiant skin. The darker the berry, the better, it means the fruit contains more antioxidants as the anthocyanin pigments are stronger – these strengthen blood capillaries and improve circulation to the brain. There are two types of blackberry, the European and the North American. The North American types fruit earlier in the summer and the European one later, together they give a constant supply of blackberries across the season.
Blueberries are one of the most potent antioxidant foods in the world, and have become extremely popular since being labeled a ‘super food’. But it is only in recent years they have started to be grown in Britain, with the peak British season lasting about six weeks during July and August. With very few calories they can increase vitality and the immune system, and like blackberries the darker the berry, the better.
Plums, like blueberries, are widely praised for their health benefits, their level of antioxidants and the many nutrients they contain. One plum contains about the same amount of antioxidants as a handful of blueberries but is around a third of the price. British plums have a unique taste, the Victoria Plum is the most popular variety although there are many more to enjoy raw or cooked and in a range of hues to brighten up your fruit basket. Plums ripen fast but can be frozen – halve the fruit and remove the stones first. The versatile flavours go very well in savoury dishes, particularly with gammon, duck or lamb.
Cherries are one of the greatest tastes of summer; the flavour complements the delicious chocolate and creamy sweets of the season like pavlovas and scones. The stones of cherries are actually full of flavour so if you’re stewing them leave intact to save time and taste, even if it does get a bit messier when it comes to eating.
The sweet, refreshing and soft fruit; apricots are tasty enough on their own or great added to savoury recipes. Two apricots provide 50 per cent of your recommended daily allowance of carotene, excellent for a kick-start to your summer tan. The tastiest apricots are the soft and fragrant ones, but dried apricots are wonderful to have on hand for snacking.
The season for peaches starts early and lasts almost all summer. For the stickiest, juiciest peaches choose ones that are soft when you apply a little pressure but mostly firm; white peaches generally have more taste than yellow ones. Try farmers markets for the widest and freshest variety.
Pick Your Own
Picking your own fruit is the freshest way of getting it from field to fork and it’s delicious fun for children and adults. You’ll be charged by the punnet for what you pick, allowing you to choose the fattest and juiciest fruits of the crop. It’s also great for the environment as it reduces the amount of food miles the fruit takes, the only ones you use are to take you and your pickings home. Visit http://www.pickyourown.info to find your nearest PYO farm.