Seasonal products : July

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Légumes d'été (c) Juta shutterstock

Summer vegetables (c) Juta shutterstock

July marks the explosion of colors and flavors in the vegetable garden and orchard. The taste for good vegetables and fruits in season is increasing dramatically. The French are becoming more and more vegetarian. July is therefore a good month for the 21st century gastronome. The only view of a market in the south of France in this month of July is a wonder of colors and scents.

The summer vegetables that are tomatoess, the onionss, the zucchini and the eggplants incite to ratatouille, bohemian, piperades and other assortments that will brighten the gourmet’s palate. These dishes, which vary according to their region of origin, have in common to magnify the flavor of these vegetables of the sun and to accompany marvelously the slightest grilled fish or lamb that has become fat and fleshy at will. They like garlic, basil and fresh thyme ideally perfumed.

The barbecues are tempting in July: grilled sardines, Breton lobsters served with a simple lemon tarragon butter, dodus rabbits (rex du Poitou for example) that can be cooked by hiding an aromatic garnish under the bacon. The good weather encourages grilling.

The salad of the month is the rocket. It goes so well with the Parmesan (in fine chips), the tomatoes warm and fragrant of full season, or slices of a cheese (goat cheese, mozzarella etc) that all improvisations around this theme are welcome. But lettuces and romaine lettuces have also reached their perfection, chicory curls and the lover of crunchy salads can enjoy themselves.

Laitue (c) Ekaterina Kondratova shutterstock

Lettuce (c) Ekaterina Kondratova shutterstock

Side cheesesSpring milks work wonders: all French cheeses that require a fairly short maturing period are at their peak. It’s the return of the great Normandy cheeses (CamembertThe company’s products are at their absolute level of excellence. Choosing them creamy at heart will give the July gastronome unsuspected pleasure. The goats are also in all their splendor.

It’s time to go for a walk in the woods to look for chanterelle mushrooms and cepsThe slightest rain in July, followed by sunshine, must be interpreted as a happiness that will make them abound. The small strawberries woods are hidden but their powerful aroma can betray them to the attentive picker.

The orchard is enchanting: big melons juicy and fragrant, round red berries of all kinds to be enjoyed with a freshly drained cottage cheese, apricots and fisheries fluffy and fleshy. This is the great month of jams. Cordons bleus are actively cooking to continue to enjoy these wonders during the winter months. The fruits are put in brandy, mixed into an “old boy’s jam” to be eaten at Christmas.

In short, here is a summary of the seasonal products. To do this I used a lot of the not so recent but excellent Almanac du Gastronome.

As usual by clicking on the words in pink, you arrive on the list of recipes using this ingredient.

In the vegetable garden :

Haricots verts (c) KAppleyard shutterstock

Green beans (c) KAppleyard shutterstock

  • Beans Small and green or snap beans, they’re all there.
  • Pickles These miniature cucumbers are delicious pickled at home. Nothing to do with industrial preserves.
  • The tomatoes Round or oblong, it is the vegetable of the summer, so tasty in July and August. It is far from the bland and tasteless fruits, grown in all seasons under plastic tunnel.
  • The peppers Peppers and sweet peppers are the fruits of the same shrub. Only their shape (more or less pointed) and their flavours (more or less hot) differentiate them.

The products that arrive :

  • Eggplant It is always harvested and consumed before maturity to have less bitterness and fewer seeds. For this reason it is necessary to give priority to the small ones rather than the big ones. Choose them shiny and spotless with a shiny and tight skin.

The products that leave :

  • Spinach It’s best to avoid it now and wait for his return in the fall. In summer, the plants rise and the leaves become more acrid.
  • The artichoke : The big Breton camus, so fleshy in June, is still abundant, but it becomes so big that it is necessary to watch it. Beware of stringy bottoms.
  • The early potato From July 31, no more varieties are allowed to keep the appellation “primeur”. The “new” potatoes, i.e. picked young before full maturity, will continue. But, according to the regulations, this is the last month of the “primeur” period.
Pommes de terre nouvelles ©Olha Afanasieva shutterstock

New potatoes ©Olha Afanasieva shutterstock

In the orchard :

  • The strawberries The Gariguettes have disappeared. It is replaced by the famous Mara des bois, a fabulous fruit that has the size of a large strawberry and the aroma of wild strawberries.
  • The raspberry The real season begins. Their price becomes more advantageous.
  • Other red fruits The time has come for jellies and jams of currants. Red or white, these berries have a similar taste, but the reds are more acidic. Blueberries, blackcurrants and blackberries are also present.
  • Apricot : Varieties follow one another from mid-June to the end of August. In July, the best and most fragrant is the Bergeron, recognizable by its red and orange face.
  • The melon It blooms and perfumes wonderfully from July. The Charente Cantaloupe is the most present on the summer markets. It must be chosen heavy and fragrant. If its peduncle is ready to detach itself, it is just right.
  • The fisheries : Fluffy and melting, both yellow and white have their supporters. In reality, the important thing is less the color of their flesh than the precise moment of their picking, just before maturity (because the fruit is fragile) but as late as possible so that it has already acquired its perfume.

The products that arrive :

  • The plums After the allo, the Golden Japan, the Santa Clara and especially the exquisite Queen Claudes arrive.

The products that leave :

  • The cherries : There are still some late cherry cherries at the beginning of this month, especially white cherries, but as the song says, it’s the end of the nice cherry weather. For those who have not yet done so, it is too late to put them in vinegar, brandy or to make jam.
Cerises (c) SKatzenberger shutterstock

Cherries (c) SKatzenberger shutterstock

At the fishmonger’s

  • The crabs Oil cakes and spiders are abundant and inexpensive.
  • The lobster The season continues for the little bretons, the best.
  • The lobster It is fished with a drag net for two months. Rarer than lobster, it is often more expensive.
  • The langoustines This is their last month of full season. At the seaside, enjoy the live ones, they are so much better than those kept on ice.
  • The sardine Summer fish par excellence, it is very fat and fleshy.
  • The tuna Red and white are available. Especially take advantage of the white: it lasts less time and it is better (especially the belly, the fishmonger’s favorite piece. Be careful with the red, the species is endangered.
  • The céteaux This small variety of soles is only there for two months. It’s a pity to miss them because the season is short.
  • Anchovies If the period of great abundance, which will last 4 months, has begun, it is time to eat it raw with a drizzle of lemon and olive oil.

The products that arrive :

  • The squid He returns timidly to the stalls after having practically disappeared since April. But its price is still that of a time of shortage. Only Provencal people can taste them already stuffed or in fricassee.
  • The étrilles They arrive around the middle of July. To be watched to make a bisque because they are too small to be eaten plain.

The products that leave :

  • The Saint Peter : It does not disappear completely. One fishes a little bit of it all year long. But this fish is more abundant and much cheaper in spring. In July, its price goes up again.
  • The turbot Its great season (and its more advantageous prices) is over. Like the Saint Peter, it is a spring fish. It will now be rarer until next March.

At the butcher or poultry shop

  • Lamb He has been in the meadow for several months. The tender little one has become a fleshy and succulent beast. It is just right for the mechouis.

At the creamer’s :

Camembert (c) HandmadePictures shutterstock

Camembert (c) HandmadePictures shutterstock

  • The Camembert : Be careful that it is well specified “de Normandie” with the sign of its AOC on the lid. June and July are its best months.
  • The Pont-L’Evêque It is perfect, especially chosen refined to heart.
  • The Livarot It completes the trilogy of great Norman cheeses.
  • The goat cheeses Their full season continues, with a very large choice on the stalls.
  • LOssau-Iraty This Pyrenean ewe’s cheese with AOC can be served as a unique cheese, with black cherry jam in the Basque way.

The products that arrive :

  • The Reblochon : This is still the beginning of its period of excellence. Choose it very creamy, it will be incomparable.
  • The Saint-Nectaire : You can buy it from farmers as well as dairy farmers: both are in good shape.

The products that leave :

  • Northern and Eastern cheeses Creamy Munster, Epoisses or Langres are always good and even very good in July, but they are less tempting in the heat. We prefer to find them in autumn.

In the woods :

  • The wild strawberries : Real wild strawberries are becoming a rarity, but some corners of the forest still conceal these delicious little savages.
  • The ceps : With a little bit of temporary humidity, you can count on these delicious bolets; it’s usually the time of the pine boletus.
  • The chanterelles : At the time of the new moon, if a few showers precede a sunny day, the yellows come out in abundance.
Girolles (c) Elena Blokhina shutterstock

Girolles (c) Elena Blokhina shutterstock

The products that arrive :

  • The hairy goat : This mushroom with an elongated ovoid cap, topped by a Belgian cap strewn with frilly strips that explain its name, is little known and ephemeral (its season lasts only a few weeks). It is in its early youth, when it is still all white, that it should be tasted. It is a rarity with a delicate flesh particularly tasty in its raw state.

Click here to discover all my seasonal recipes.

For further information on the products, I recommend the book from which this information is taken: L’almanach du gastronome.

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