In season: Summer specials

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Claire Power, product marketing manager, Fresh Produce, Pauleys: July and August is a great time for British produce with more and more ingredients...

Claire Power, product marketing manager, Fresh Produce, Pauleys​: July and August is a great time for British produce with more and more ingredients becoming available, including new season tender and sweet runner beans. Available from early July until the end of September, the best runner beans are grown in locations where they can attain maximum sunlight, including Chichester on the south coast. Runner beans can be boiled, steamed or stir-fried, but for maximum flavour, they are best cooked until on the soft side of al dente.

From mid-July until the end of September, British bunched beetroot is available. Grown in the rich soils of East Anglia, by leaving the leafstalk on the plant it takes longer for cell damage to occur. As a result, the beetroot stays fresher for longer and the flavour is also retained. Beetroot is perfect for adding a refreshing flavour and vibrant colour to summer salads.

British plums are also great at this time of year. Plums thrive in Britain's mild and moist seasons, giving them a unique and popular flavour. There are eight main varieties of plum grown for market in the UK, all of which are harvested between July and September.

The most loved variety, the Victoria plum, has a short season of about four weeks running from late August. Its versatility as a dessert and cooking plum has made it popular with chefs across the country.

With a dark coloured skin and sweet purple flesh, it is used to make the best jams, scrumptious stews and delicious crumbles. To soften hard plums, place several in a loosely closed paper bag and leave them at room temperature for a day or two, then once softened, transfer them to the refrigerator.

Chef's Tip​: When cooking bunched beetroot, wash it well but do not peel as this causes it to bleed and lose some of its colour and flavour. Trim off the roots and leaves, leaving about 2cm of stem, then cover with cold water and boil until tender. Once cooked, simply peel and serve as needed.

Alan Edmeades, marketing product manager, M&J Seafood​: The summer months are a great time for flat fish, so products such as plaice, brill and turbot will be of a good quality and readily available. Cod and haddock are improving and will be best in September, October and November.

Summer is also an excellent time of year for fish caught in local inshore waters. This is particularly true of the south coast where the improved weather means a lot more boats will be put to sea, bringing in a wide variety of local fish including grey and red mullet. The quality of these fish will be very good but be aware that the quantities will be comparatively small.

May to September is monsoon season so supplies of more exotic fish such as tuna, marlin and swordfish will be up and down during this period. On the plus side, the Canadian sockeye salmon season runs from July to August, whilst the Pacific halibut and snapper seasons are now in full swing.

The native oyster season has now come to an end, so the only varieties available at present are from the Pacific. Supplies of Scottish mussels will start to dwindle shortly as the sea temperature rises, but fear not, the Dutch mussel season starts in July, and they will be both abundant and of excellent quality.

Chef's Tip​: Coat your fish with herbs, spices and citrus fruits to create rich, strong aromas, and serve simply with vegetables or as part of a summer salad. Alternatively, to stand out from the competition, why not try a modern twist? For example, instead of offering traditional fish and chips, coat your fish with a batter flavoured with eastern spices, and serve with jasmine rice and a minted pea puree.

John Martin, product marketing manager, Prime Meats​: Meat and poultry is a lot less seasonal than fresh produce, and therefore during the summer months, publicans should serve what will be popular with customers. For pubs in particular, especially with the smoking ban, barbecue food is a must during the summer. Burgers, sausages, steaks and chicken portions such as drumsticks are all popular pub barbecue choices.

To save time and for food safety, ready cooked options are worth considering. This reassures publicans that when cooking chicken butterfly breasts, sausages or burgers, there is no risk of undercooking, and they are quick and easy to heat and serve.

As with most product areas, provenance is really selling, so if you are serving Aberdeen Angus burgers or Lincolnshire sausages, flag up the origin on your menu, particularly if they are locally sourced.

Although most game does not kick in until November, wood pigeon is available all year round and is particularly good in the late summer and early autumn as young birds are reaching maturity, and having fed on corn crops in the summer they have plenty of meat yet are still tender.

British meat is currently selling very well. There is still a shortage of chicken, which is predicted to last through the summer with prices remaining high. In contrast, there is a surplus of New Zealand lamb in the market at the moment, which is driving down British lamb prices.

Chef's tip​: Add value to your barbecue offering by using different and interesting burger buns such as ciabatta or a sour dough bun, and add fillings such as bacon, mushrooms, and chilli or blue cheese sauces. You could also tempt customers by including enticing descriptions on the menu.

For example, a cheese and bacon burger can become a 99 per cent Aberdeen Angus half pound burger topped with crispy smoked bacon, fresh sautéed mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese, served in a Italian ciabatta bun.

For further information:

Pauleys: 0870 600 2005

M&J Seafood: 01269 333800

Prime Meats: 0845 606 9090

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