In Season

Eat British produce when it’s at its best.

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French beans May -

French beans

Long and lithe, the first French beans of the season bring a flash of emerald green to your table and a welcome crunch to early summer dishes, says Alicia Miller

Phaseolus vulgaris is a decidedly unromantic name that suggests an unremarkable vegetable, but with its long and slender shape, velvety, emerald coat and fine, pointed tip, the French bean is both striking and appealing, and as elegant as they come. How this ubiqutious pod, a favourite of home cooks, came to appear on our plates remains a bit of a mystery, despite much research by historians. South American in origin, it’s believed that the beans were brought over to France via Spain, and then on to Britain by the travelling ruling classes, or perhaps even by French Huguenot refugees. However and whenever they may actually have first appeared in the UK, the primary supplier of these then-exotic beans during the 16th and 17th centuries was most likely France, and so was born the name we still use for today, ‘French’ beans. While the majority of the crop will be available in market

  • Pomegranates

    January produce

    Scallops, kale, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory and pomegranates

  • Passion fruit

    February produce

    Cauliflowers, swede, oysters, lemons and passion fruit

  • Oranges

    March produce

    Purple sprouting broccoli, cabbage and oranges

  • Shallots

    April produce

    Spring herbs, spinach, watercress, shallots, blood oranges and rhubarb

  • Rocket

    May produce

    French beans, asparagus, Jersey royals, peas, spinach and rocket

  • Broad beans

    June produce

    Samphire, broad beans, gooseberries, cherries, strawberries and honey

  • Radish

    July produce

    Courgettes, cucumbers and artichokes

  • Apricots

    August produce

    Aubergines, peppers, tomatoes and apricots

  • Peppers

    September produce

    Peppers and figs

  • Apples

    October produce

    Wild mushrooms, onions, sweet potatoes, fennel, apples and plums

  • Celeriac

    November produce

    Savoy cabbage, pumpkins, celeriac, carrots, cavolo nero, potatoes, truffles and dates

  • Nuts

    December produce

    Brussels sprouts, nuts, walnuts, chestnuts and cranberries

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