The profusion of new foods on the shelves in May should have you bouncing around like the spring lambs in the fields just now. We are not quite into the sunshine foods of early summer, but there’s definitely a whisper of a promise in the air.
Fruit and vegetables
The dreadful, freezing temperatures of late March and early April have wreaked havoc on the veg and fruit front, making their survival precarious and their arrival in the shops later than usual. But hopefully, you will now start to find early peas, broad beans, carrots and baby courgettes.
Jersey Royals are also late so, although usually more affordable in May, are still at a premium price right now.
Many of the soft, salad leaves and herbs which appear in May will have been indoor-grown and with the help of a little heat, so there should be no problem finding them. An early warning, though: you will need to get your skates on to enjoy asparagus, as the short season peaks in May.
Be nice to nettles
Otherwise, on the green front, you can’t help but love Be Nice to Nettles Week, which begins next Wednesday (15 May). The week is to raise awareness of the weed, which until the latter half of the 20th century was a common food ingredient in the UK.
Most of us work hard to get rid of stinging nettles in the garden – but in May, the leaves can be harvested to use in the kitchen. They make a cleansing tea, are tasty whipped into mashed potato, in soups, lasagna and stews, and can be substituted in any recipe calling for spinach.
Meat and fish
Meanwhile, lamb is by far the best meat in May, but continues to be prohibitively expensive because of the on-going Schmallenberg disease. The harsh winter also meant a lot of lambs were lost.
But don’t despair; our coastal waters and rivers have plenty to offer. Sea trout, wild and farmed salmon, crab, cockles, whelks and mackerel are just a few of the offerings. Dress them up with seasonal samphire, and I think you will be more than well fed this month.
See Elaine Lemm’s recipe for Asparagus and Salmon Lasagna