Capturing the Freshness of Summer

For a while now, we’ve been infatuated with deep, dark and mysterious flavours. Every trendsetting Top 50-listed restaurant has been coaxing out umami rich tinctures from the most exotic, and under-loved ingredients and cultivating ways to extract deliciousness, be it from new and unusual sources, or age old traditional methods.
A lot of this has been due to recent fascination with the cuisines of countries that have colder, harsher climates. But Britain, and to a greater extent, south western Europe, is about to dive headlong into the bounty of summertime. Now is the time to exploit the bright, light, and fragrant flavours that only the warmer months can muster. From plump vine-ripened tomatoes, delicate courgettes and the dark purple of the versatile old aubergine, all this fresh produce is about to hit its peak, and that’s not only the best time to flood the kitchens with it for summer menus, but to plan ahead for autumn and winter.
We’ve seen a devout resurgence in preservation techniques over the past 18 months. From Redzepi’s crew at Noma, through to more down-home restaurants like Brighton’s Silo, pickling, jamming, fermenting and curing have all become the trademark of popular young restaurants. Whether it’s preserving three-cornered leeks in a light vinegar, or capturing the intensity of elderflowers in cordials and wines. These products can bring dynamic balance to your dishes both now and ahead.
Sharpness and acidity is a trait that we are seeing more and more in high-end dining establishments and early season fruit can be a great way to deliver this. Harvesting fruit early ensures the fruit doesn’t see too much sun, or receive too much heat, which in turn concentrates the sugars. Conversely, if you find British strawberries in their prime, then the juicy sweetness is phenomenal and is the optimum time to pull out a little vinegar to help temper them.
From taking a look across the white tablecloths of some of Europe and America’s fine dining elite, the humble salad is getting a well-deserved upgrade. Places like L.A.’s Gjelina are delivering bold bowls of leaves that are proving even more popular than items from the grill.
Naturally, moving away from the iceberg is the first step in elevating your salad game, but empowering them with pickled and preserved ingredients, fish and an abundance of huge intricate croutons has kept them nosing out ahead of other salad heavy restaurants and has them signed up for a New York expansion.
However you plan to exploit the abundance of summer produce, be sure to take home a little extra and think cleverly on how to preserve it. Harnessing the brightness, freshness and zestiness of summer, and saving it for a rainy day.

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