June in Germany is, for me, all about strawberries. The season peaks in June where we live, and they’re everywhere you look: at the farmers’ markets, in the shops, at pop-up stalls on roadsides and dotted all around the town. With 500g punnets available for 2,00€ a go – or less – in high season, you’d be mad not to make the most of them (see the May seasonal eating guide for ideas). However, there are plenty of other summer fruits and vegetables around at the moment that shouldn’t be missed…
Here in the Rhein-Main, everyone’s mad about cherries (Kirschen). It’s for good reason: they’re grown in huge volumes round these parts, and they’re sweeter and juicier than any others I’ve ever tried. My husband grew up surrounded by orchards in a suburb of Mainz, right next to a field full of cherry trees, and he spent his summers plucking them straight from the tree with his sisters, having pit-spitting competitions before going home with the sweet juice streaming down their chins. At this time of year, there was always – and still is – a heaped bowlful of dark red cherries on his parents’ kitchen table. It’s the case in our kitchen too now, and as well as grabbing a handful on my way past, I’ve started getting creative with them. I’m looking forward to trying:
★ Diana Henry’s goat’s cheese and macerated cherry salad,
★ David Tanis’ duck with cherries and red wine vinegar, and
★ cinnamon rice pudding with cherry compote and pistachios.
(I’d also recommend my Black Forest trifle!)
Peas (Erbsen) freeze so well that it may seem pointless shelling fresh ones, but there’s something incredibly satisfying about eating ones you’ve taken time to pod yourself – and if you’re on the balcony with a glass of wine, it can be a rather relaxing task, too. To show off your hard work, I think pea recipes are best kept simple. I have bookmarked:
As a child, I loved a bowl of raspberries (Himbeeren) covered in crunchy brown sugar and thick yellow cream, but I’ve since discovered they also go terribly well with chocolate – white, milk or dark – and tart citrus flavours. I’d like to try making:
★ Felicity Cloake’s Scottish Cranachan (a fabulous mix of raspberries, oats, cream cheese and whisky),
★ Smitten Kitchen’s raspberry buttermilk cake, or
★ a raspberry and white chocolate tart (with only five ingredients).
Broad (fava) beans
I won’t lie: broad beans, or fava beans (Dicke Bohnen), are incredibly tedious to shell. You don’t have to do it, certainly, but if you take the time to remove them from not just their pods but also their thin individual skins, you’ll be rewarded with a much smoother mouthful of beans. Best known (probably) for their contribution to veggie burgers, there are numerous other more exotic options for using broad beans, both with meat and without. For me, tempting options include:
★ Rose Prince’s spiced mince lamb with broad beans,
★ Nigel Slater’s vegetarian summer rolls with radishes and cucumber and
★ Florence Knight’s broad bean, mint and ricotta bruschetta.
Redcurrants (Johannisbeeren) are very popular in Germany, and you’ll find them in cakes, desserts, sauces and preserves just everywhere you turn. (One of my favourites is Rote Grütze, a summer berry compote.) My parents had a huge redcurrant bush in the garden as I was growing up; how I wish I’d known I could grab a handful and make myself:
Also in season in June: asparagus, green and white (Spargel), strawberries (Erdbeeren), gooseberries (Stachelbeeren), radishes (Radieschen), green beans (Bohnen), spring onions (Frühlingszwiebeln) and various salad leaves.