July in south-central Germany: the sun is hot and high in the sky and eating with the season means fruit, fruit, fruit. The strawberries may be slowly coming to an end but in the orchards, plump stone fruits hang heavily from the trees, and at the farmers’ markets, stands are laden with fat, oozing plums and apricots and the cherries and berries are so ripe and plentiful that you can buy them on the cheap for making jam. On Saturdays, I return home from the marketplace weighed down by bags of sweet, juicy locally-grown fruits of every kind: if you’re enjoying the summer crops of berries and stone fruits as much as I am, then here are a few ideas for what to eat in July.
I love apricots (Aprikosen) in slow-cooked savoury dishes such as middle eastern tagines, stewed till they’re swollen with juices and almost falling apart. However, I think those dishes are best kept for the winter months, when I need something hearty to warm myself up with and can use dried apricots instead. In the summer, I think these velvety little fruits are best showed off in sweet breakfast treats or desserts such as:
★ the Smitten Kitchen breakfast apricot crisp,
★ Delia Smith’s quick apricot, apple and pecan loaf cake or
★ Diana Henry’s simple apricot and almond tart.
I went right off gooseberries (Stachelbeeren) as a child when I fell into a very prickly bush of them. I grew to love them again, mainly thanks to my mum’s first class gooseberry crumble. Their sharp flavour works extremely well in both sweet and savoury dishes, from pies to sauces and coulis, and I very much like the sound of:
★ Nigel Slater’s classic gooseberry fool,
★ baked gooseberry, ginger and créme fraîche cheesecake, or
★ Jason Atherton’s cured mackerel and gooseberry salad.
The word “superfood” is often banded about in the context of blueberries (Heidelbeeren or Blaubeeren), chock full as they are of antioxidants that are said to lower your risk of heart disease. It’s a bonus, then, that they taste delicious, wonderful little explosions of sweetness for scattering on a salad or mixing with other ripe summer fruits and dollop of yoghurt or cream to create the perfect summer pudding, but I’m also rather keen to try:
★ blueberry and lemon cheesecake bars,
★ Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s blueberry clafoutis (and his blueberry, oat and walnut muffins lower down that page, too), and
★ Yotam Ottolenghi’s blueberry galette.
Zwetschgen are smooth, blueish-black apricot-shaped fruits with greeny-yellow flesh and a strong, acidic flavour, which makes them better suited for cooking than eating straight off the tree (though I’m quite partial to doing that myself). For a long time, I’d understood these were damsons, but they are in fact a subspecies of the damson. They’re for sale by the kilo at our local market and in such large quantities, would be the perfect purchase for jam-making. Other ideas for cooking with them include:
★ Delia Smith’s damson chutney spiced with cinnamon, allspice and cloves,
★ Diana Henry’s damson and blackberry Eton mess and
★ Sarah Raven’s damson vodka (otherwise known as sloe gin).
Often confused with damsons (and damson subspecies!), plums (Pflaumen) are larger, purpler and have smaller stones and a much milder, sweeter taste. They go just as well with savoury as sweet dishes though, so if you want to do something with them other than eat them raw and lick the sticky juice that’s dribbled down your arms in the process, then how about trying:
★ pork tenderloin with plum chutney,
★ a drunken plum frangipane tart or
★ poached plums with brown sugar syrup.
Also in season in July: blackberries (Brombeeren), broad beans (Dicke Bohnen) cherries (Kirschen), green beans (Bohnen), peas (Erbsen), radishes (Radieschen), raspberries (Himbeeren) and redcurrants (Johannisbeeren).
You know I love these posts!
What is it with Germans and their obsession with gooseberries? I didn’t even know what one looked like until I went for cocktails in Germany and was presented one on the side of my glass.
Haha! Are you sure it wasn’t an olive? 😉
I don’t honestly think I’ve ever seen a gooseberry anywhere on a menu (or the side of a drink) at all whilst I’ve been here, which, come to think of it, is a bit odd. I’m going to look up what Germans do with them. Cakes, probably. (And cocktail decorations.)
Cakes and the green version of “Rote Grütze”. And Jelly.
A green version of Rote Grütze? I had no idea! I’m going to investigate that one, thank you very much 🙂
Yep, really enjoying this time of year. Quick question: Sloe berries. Later in the year, but are the common here in Germany? Would like to make some sloe gin.
Hi Tom 🙂 I’ve never been sloe picking and I’ve actually never looked for them at the market either, but I had a look (I think they’re called Schlehen in German, please someone correct me if I’m wrong) and there’s plenty of recipes available for them online, so I’m sure you’ll be able to find them somewhere. Let me know if you find out – I’ll ask my mother-in-law about it when I’m home…
I love these posts! I’m not a fan of Stachelbeeren, I feel I should like them, as it would be quite a grown-up thing to do, but they’re just too sharp for my tastebuds.
I’ve never seen broad beans here, can you get them in Wiesbaden?
I totally agree about the sharpness of gooseberries and I definitely prefer them in savoury dishes – years and years ago I had a starter of hot brie parcels with gooseberry sauce (in a restaurant in Newcastle) that totally sold me on the idea. And *confession time* I’ve never even looked for fresh broad beans in Wiesbaden, I suppose I’m too overwhelmed by fruit at this time of year to think of it… and also I’m really put off by the idea of all the podding 😉 But I shall look tomorrow, if I make it after my day of trains home today, and report back 😀
And thank you!! 😀
You cannot cannot beat a good gooseberry crumble! Definitely my favourite of the crumble family! 😀
Oh you are so right… I’ve not had a gooseberry crumble for years! Could be time to rectify that…