December In Season

Eat produce when it's at its best.

This months seasonal produce

Brussels sprouts, nuts, walnuts, chestnuts and cranberries

Oysters

Oysters

The most storied shellfish of all is worthy of its place in our imaginations – and on our tables, says Clarissa Hyman.

Competitive oyster eating down the centuries makes for an eye-opening, stomach-gurgling list. Casanova ate 50 a day; Henry IV and Louis XIV as many as 300 in a sitting. The champion oyster-swallower, however, still has to be the Roman Emperor Vitellius, who is said to have regularly eaten 100 dozen oysters at a time, which may explain why his reign lasted less than year. That and the fact he spent more than the equivalent of £8 million on his imperial table in that brief period. When in Rome, as they say. As has frequently been noted, it must have been a brave soul who first ate a raw oyster. Desperate, I would say, as there’s no getting away from the fact we eat them both raw and alive. Thankfully they neither shriek when prised open nor squeal when jabbed, but as an American zoologist calmly noted: ‘Even thoughtful people callously look for the muscular twitch as they drop lemon...read more

Other seasonal produce

Walnuts

Eat preserved in syrups, sprinkle their luscious oil over salads, or use our recipes to turn the cracking kernels into cakes, bakes and stews. Clarissa Hyman likes them best with port and stilton, with recipes by Linda Tubby

Walnut. Whip. It’s a sure bet that in any word association test, a majority of the British public would put the two together. It was certainly my introduction to these curious, convoluted nuts, much as an earlier generation would have first encountered them in Fuller’s legendary white- frosted...read more

Walnuts

Brussels sprouts

These miniature cabbages are a festive must, says Rosemary Barron with recipes by Linda Tubby

It’s fair to say not everyone is a fan of Brussels sprouts, but if you’ve been put off by childhood memories of overcooked, stinky sprouts – think again. The Brussels sprout (brassica oleracea var. gemmifera or ‘garden cabbage-bearing gems’) is an offspring of wild cabbage, a plant that...read more

Brussels sprouts

Nuts

Christmas without knobbly walnuts, glossy chocolate brazils and moist, savoury chestnut stuffing? Inconceivable, says Helen Hokin

Nature gives us nuts, seal-wrapped and ready to go, in sturdy little brown packages of fibre, protein and fat. In December, when the sun and our energy levels are low, their buttery texture comforts while their good fats galvanise. And they ensure that there’s still a little crunch in the diet...read more

Nuts

Cranberries

These traditional winter favourites brighten up savoury dishes and make desserts shine, says Clarissa Hyman with recipes by Linda Tubby

The crimson fruit of the bog is so tooth- clenchingly astringent it makes you wonder how the Native Americans ever ate it raw. But they did, long before the first Europeans arrived, and also cooked the fruit with maple sugar or honey. You could say, therefore, cranberry sauce was invented by Native...read more

Cranberries

Chestnuts

A true scent of Christmas, these mahogany gems are not just for roasting over an open fire. Their sweetness makes them perfect for roasts, desserts and more, says Clarissa Hyman with recipes by Linda Tubby

Last night I dreamt not of Manderley, but of Nesselrode pie. The legendary iced pudding, said to have been invented by the chef to the great 19th-century Russian diplomat and bon viveur Count Karl Von Nesselrode, requires delirious mountains of chestnut purée, alpine peaks of whipped cream and...read more

Chestnuts

Clementines

A burst of colour in your kitchen, these Christmas staples are perfect for adding a citrus kick to desserts or a sweet touch to savoury dishes, says Rosemary Barron with recipes by Linda Tubby

Christmastime without clementines? It’s unimaginable. On gloomy winter days, a fruit bowl piled high with these orange gems is as cheering as lights on the tree. Their sweetness enhances our ham and, for generations, children have joyfully turned them out from the toes of their Christmas...read more

Clementines

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