Cooking with ingredients at their seasonal peak is such a tenant of good cooking that it bears constant repeating. Visit any convenience store and you can find almost any ingredient at almost any time of year. However, an ingredients mere availability offers no assurance of its quality. Or of the best possible price.
By cutting the demand for out-of-season produce, this environmentally friendly way of cooking contributes little to carbon emissions through less transportation, refrigeration and hot houses, and also eliminates the need for irradiation of produce.
Eating produce when in season offers you the best quality and flavour, at the best price, with the least impact on the environment. Each season suggests a different palette of ingredients and different ways of preparing and serving them.
While seasonality will drive your choice of ingredients, the weather will drive your decision as to how to prepare and serve them. No matter what the season, on the coldest days, you’ll want to warm your home as well as your body with slow-braised dishes, soups, and stews. On warmer days, you’ll want to keep your home (and yourself) cooler by doing more grilling, or on the hottest days serving quick-cooked or even chilled dishes.
Southern hemisphere: March, April, May
Northern hemisphere: September, October, November
Braise, glaze, roast.
Apples, avocados, figs, granadillas, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, naartjies, oranges, pawpaws or papayas, pear, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, quinces, sweet melon, watermelon.
Artichokes, aubergines (eggplant), baby marrows, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butter beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chives, courgettes (zucchini), cucumber, mushrooms, onion, parsley, peas, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, sweet peppers, squash, turnips.
Southern hemisphere: June, July, August
Northern hemisphere: December, January, February
Bake, braise, glaze, roast, simmer, slow-cook, stews, soups.
Apples, avocados, bananas, dates, grapefruit, kumquats, lemons, limes, melon, naartjies, oranges, passionfruit, pawpaws or papayas, pears, pineapples, tangerines.
Beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, cucumber, grains (heavy), greens (winter), lentils, mushrooms, parsnips, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, spinach, spring onion, squash (winter), sweet potatoes, turnips, waterblommetjies.
Beef, game, lobster, mussels, pork, squid, venison.
Caramel, chocolate, maple syrup, rosemary, sage, spices (warming),
Southern hemisphere: September, October, November
Northern hemisphere: March, April, May
Pan roast and other stove top methods.
Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, Cape gooseberries, cherries, coconuts, dates, grapefruit, guavas, lemons, limes, naartjies, nectarines, oranges, pawpaw or papaya, pears, pineapples, plums, strawberries, sweet melon, watermelon.
Artichokes, asparagus, aubergines (eggplant), baby marrows, beans, beetroot, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, courgettes (zucchini), cucumber, kale spinach, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, potato, pumpkin, radishes, red onions, rhubarb, turnips, watercress.
Southern hemisphere: December, January, February
Northern hemisphere: June, July, August
Barbecue, grill, marinate, panfry, pan roast, raw.
Apricots, apples, bananas, blackberries, cherries, figs, grapes, guavas, kiwi fruit, lemons, litchis, mangoes, melon, mulberries, nectarines, pawpaws or papayas, peaches, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, prickly pears, prunes, raspberries, strawberries, sweet melon, watermelon.
Artichokes, asparagus, aubergines (eggplant), baby marrows, beetroot, brinjals, cabbage, carrots, celery, chives, corn, green beans, mange tout, patty pans, pumpkin, radishes, red onions, spinach, sweet potato.
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