After a washed-out end to July, we now look to August as British fields and orchards begin to bulge with their wares to take us into the main harvesting month of September. While berries are still great, we are now starting to see the first of the English plums beginning with greengages.
Greengages are super sweet plums perfect for dessert when ripe and high enough in pectin to make a delicious jam when less ripe and firm. Anna Hansen uses greengages as part of a savoury gooseberry relish to pair with an after dinner cheeseboard. Greengages also work wonderfully in a British classic – take a look at our guide on how to make greengage crumble.
Figs are now starting to become plentiful, mostly coming from the warmer parts of Europe but supermarkets have begun to sell figs hailing from Essex in recent years which is good news for British growers. Without the long air miles and refrigeration, this very individual fruit can be enjoyed at its best as figs have to be picked ripe and are notoriously difficult to transport.
Sticky, sweet and textured with hundreds of tiny seeds, figs lend themselves wonderfully to both sweet and savoury dishes; look to Paul Foster’s Fig ice cream with granola and yoghurt mousse or Geoffrey Smeddle’s Warm puff pastry tart with goat’s cheese and figs for inspiration.
At the absolute height of their season in August are tomatoes, the British and French heirloom varieties being the leaders in flavour due to their natural pollination by bees. Heirloom tomatoes are available in all shapes and sizes each with their own unique characteristics. Steer away from supermarkets and head down to your local greengrocer to find these unusual looking fruits with maximum flavour, perfect for a summer salad. Henry Harris serves his tomatoes with borlotti beans and goat’s cheese or for a refreshing gazpacho, try Tom Aikens’ cherry tomato version.