February In Season

Eat produce when it's at its best.

This months seasonal produce

Cauliflowers, swede, oysters, lemons and passion fruit

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

Oysters

As our wintry coastal waters yield up their treasures, Helen Hokin prises open the secrets of Britain’s precious pearly kings with recipes by Linda Tubby

‘Possibly the best thing to come out of Britain,’ enthused the Roman general (and, briefly, emperor) Vitellius on tasting oysters from the Essex Blackwater River during the first century AD. He would summon slaves bearing snow-lined baskets of delectable Colchester and Whitstable Native...read more

Oysters

Cabbage

Treat their tender leaves with respect and spring cabbage and greens will give a burst of colour, nutrients and flavour, says Clarissa Hyman with recipes by Linda Tubby

Consider the cabbage: does it have a heart, and where is its head? Can it have one without the other? Is it red, green or white, and does spring always follow winter? The unruly world of the brassica is full of such conundrums. The original wild plant, the ancient patriarch of the family, was...read more

Cabbage

Cauliflowers

These crucifers are best just after winter, when they’re packed full of vitamins – great for soups, stews and curries, says Rosemary Barron with recipes by Linda Tubby

Do cauliflowers have a season? Yes, they do. Although sold in our supermarkets all year round, this very special member of the wild cabbage family (Brassica oleracea) is at its bright and healthy best in early spring. Cauliflowers harvested at that time have had the benefit of a longer growing...read more

Cauliflowers

Passion fruit

The perfumed sweet-sour flavour of these heavenly fruits is the perfect partner for game, desserts or cocktails. Clarissa Hyman is a true devotee with recipes by Linda Tubby

Passion fruit – what’s not to love? How could anyone resist a fruit with such a, well, passionate name? It helps, of course, that it has a seductive filling secreted within its wrinkled, leathery exterior, like the luscious contents of a cobweb-draped bottle of grand cru claret. The fruit’s...read more

Passion fruit

Swede

The humble swede is enjoying its moment in the culinary spotlight. After being championed by top-class chefs for its distinctive flavour and texture, this root vegetable is assuming its rightful place on fine-dining menus, writes Michael Raffael with recipes by Linda Tubby

When is a turnip not a turnip? Answer: when it’s a swede. No, this isn’t a bad joke left over from a Christmas cracker. The culinary border between these two vegetables is indistinct. To add to the confusion, swede is listed on some pickle jar labels in the UK as ‘rutabaga’. This is a...read more

Swede

Lemons

Sprinkle a little sunshine into your dishes this month, says Clarissa Hyman, as she celebrates the cheery citrus fruit – an indispensable and everyday ingredient for cooks with recipes by Liz Franklin, Brian Glover and Rosemary Stark

Abowl of lemons can light up the kitchen on a chilly, slate-grey day. Their vitality and vivid colour bring memories of bright blue skies and southern sunshine. Undeniably beautiful, they are also indispensable. At their best at this time of year, lemons are one of the few imported fruits we rely on...read more

Lemons

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