Foods in season - April
Seasonal April foods shows off the very best of Spring - from edible flowers to Spring Lamb as well as colourful vegetables. This month displays a plethora of the best of British seasonal food.
There is an array of foods that are in season in April. You can enjoy these ingredients whether you're buying from the supermarket shelf, freshly dug or picked from the allotment or perhaps from a local veg or meat box order.
It's amazing the amount of flowers that are actually edible. But, first let's get some housekeeping in order:
Make sure you have permission to pick the flowers!
Don't pick dusty, old or discoloured flowers. Also avoid foraging near a road or an area that animals use.
Be careful what you pick - not all flowers are edible! If in doubt - don't pick them.
Edible Flowers in season in April
Magnolia – you can actually pickle the flowers or use them simply in salads.
Pansy / viola - mild and fresh-tasting, these flowers make salads, cakes and desserts really pretty
Camellia - use the blooms fresh as a garnish or dry them to use in Asian cuisine.
How to preserve edible flowers
Edible flowers wilt quickly. Try crystallising for more stability and longevity.
To crystallise flowers: hold a flower or petal with tweezers and use a small paintbrush, painting both sides with lightly beaten egg white. Delicately spoon caster sugar over the petals and shake off any excess. Leave to dry for three hours or overnight. They will keep up to 4 weeks.
Vegetables in season in April
Wild Garlic grows in large clumps. They have vibrant green leaves that are long and pointed with a smooth edge. Wild garlic flowers form delicate white clusters and can add a potent punch to recipes. Make sure you forage responsibly:
only pick from areas with a plentiful supply
leave enough for wildlife to avoid damaging habitats
Use chopped wild garlic to make a pesto or wild garlic butter. It can also be frozen so it can be used year-round.
This leafy crop is easy to grow and really versatile. Mix in with salad leaves to add a peppery taste. You can also use rocket instead of basil to make a homemade pesto.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
This vegetable may be coming to an end of the season, but there's still time to make the most of this pretty vegetable. Purple Sprouting Broccoli adds colour and contrast to a plate. Use it to accompany roasts, it's also great in salads and pastas. What's more it's crammed with vitamins and iron.
Commonly served raw or to garnish meals, these mustardy leaves make the perfect partner to strongly flavoured meats. Watercress also makes a really good soup too.
Jersey Royal Potatoes
Sweet and earthy and synonymous with Spring, look out for the kidney-shaped Jersey Royal Potatoes in store. These creamy-white potatoes have been grown in Jersey since the 19th century. These potatoes are the best of the best, lifted by hand to protect their delicate skins, it's no wonder it has a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
Yes, you can make some wonderful salads and dressings but for me the best way to eat Jersey Royals is boiled until just soft and slathered in salted butter.
Rhubarb a vegetable? This is a fact I've only just discovered - for years I'd have said it was definitely a fruit. Forced rhubarb is grown under pots and is now available. The second, man crop will follow soon. Never eat the leaves - they contain a poison - oxalic acid. Eat the stems raw (dipped in sugar) or gently cook to use to make crumbles or sweet pies. Rhubarb is surprisingly good with fattier meats like pork and duck. If you have an abundant crop, preserve it to use later like our Rhubarb & Ginger Jam recipe.
Other vegetables in season in April: Asparague (early spears), celeriac, chard, kale, leeks, parsnips, spring greens, spring cabbage, spring onions.
Meat and Fish in season in April
Spring lamb is typically between 3 - 5 months in age. It's a very tender meat with a gentle flavour. Roast the leg, braise the shoulder, neck and shanks. Use in one pots like stews.
April marks the start of the season for succulent brown crab. It's a versatile ingredient that you can use with pasta (especially linguine and pappardelle). Alternatively use to make traditional potted crab or crab cakes.
Other meat and fish in season in April: coley, scallops, whitebait, wood pigeon and farmed venison.
Where to buy season food
Whilst supermarkets are a convenient option that sell great quality, it's important that we support small, independent retailers. So why not visit your local butcher or fishmonger? Grab a bargain from the greengrocer. Visit your local farm shop - to find out the shop closest to you, Farming UK has a list and interactive map.