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What’s in season to eat this spring?

From rocket to rhubarb, eating seasonally might be cheaper than you think.



A lot of us have no idea how to eat seasonally, a new study suggests.


According to research done by Ocado, 70% of Brits say they’d like to eat more seasonally, but 47% don’t know when produce is in season.


This means only fewer than one in five (17%) of us base our food shops on what’s in season.


“Eating seasonally has benefits for the consumer and the planet,” Martha Springham, trading manager for produce at Ocado Retail, told PA Media.


“Buying British produce reduces air miles and pollution, whilst consuming food that is at its peak – in terms of quality and flavour – makes for a more enjoyable eating experience.”



While a lack of education is at play here, money is also a factor – with 33% of the 2,000 people surveyed believing that seasonal eating is too expensive.


However, this isn’t necessarily the case – it could even be a good idea in a cost-of-living crisis.


“Eating produce when it’s at its peak tends to be most economical as it’s when the harvest is most reliable,” Springham said.


“When you move away from peak season, crops aren’t as abundant and can be impacted by factors out of a farmer or retailer’s control – for example, the weather – which can increase costs.”


Plus, she said retailers like Ocado are more likely to have promotions on seasonal ingredients – just see its in-season aisle.


Springham’s advice? “You can also buy in season to take advantage of the flavour and quality, and then freeze to use another time and keep fresh.”


The majority of people surveyed incorrectly thought most fruit and veg was grown in summer – but there is plenty of produce at its peak in spring.


So, what fresh fruit and veg should we be buying right now?


Rocket



Springham said she loves rocket – also known as arugula or rucola – for “its peppery flavour”, and added: “It works really well tossed into a salad or taking centre stage in a pesto.”


Rhubarb



“Did you know that forced rhubarb is hand-harvested by candlelight to maintain the tenderness of the shoots?” Springham said.


Forced rhubarb is grown in dark sheds and harvested so no light gets onto the plants, causing them to photosynthesise – meaning they stay as sweet as possible.


She recommends eating it in a tart, or popping it in your next crumble slathered with custard.


Radishes



Radishes “are related to wasabi and pack a punchy flavour”, Springham said.


“Add them to a salad for an extra crunch” – or she even recommends getting a bit creative (and making the kids love them) by carving radishes into tiny mushrooms for a cute snack idea.


Blueberries



According to Springham, many of us are eating blueberries wrong by snacking on them straight out of the fridge.


“To get the most out of your blueberries, bring them to room temperature just before eating,” she advised.


And if you want to bake with them, you can’t go far wrong with a classic blueberry muffin recipe.


Strawberries



Think strawberries are just for summer? Think again.


Springham said: “The British strawberry season is just starting. Many might think the season is contained to the summer months but in fact, we’re starting to see the first fruits now.”


Enjoy the sweet berries on their own, as a treat with plenty of cream, or use them as a centre for a coronation party-worthy cake.

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