Why starting with seasonal ingredients is important

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Image Credit: Caroline McCredie

Great restaurants around the world create their menus based on the seasonal produce available. (Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse restaurant in California was a trailblazer in this approach long before it became fashionable.) And you too can cook and eat like this at home!

Here are five good reasons to let the seasons guide your shopping and cooking:

1. Eat produce at its best
Ingredients enjoyed in season are usually at their peak and most abundant, offering the best flavour and quality at the best price.

2. Support local
Seeking out local seasonal produce tends to be a more sustainable way of sourcing ingredients, requiring fewer food miles in terms of travel and shorter storage time. It also means you’re supporting local growers and makers at the beginning of the chain, and local grocers, butchers and fishmongers at the supply level.

3. Find complementary flavours
Produce grown in the same season and locally often inherently go together well. A great example is the perfect marriage of tomato and basil.

4. Get excited by ingredients
If you cook and eat seasonally, you really do get to truly live the joy of the changes in seasons. For me, it always starts with what’s in season at the market. I buy what I like the look of and then decide what to cook with it. I rarely shop with a shopping list.

5. Become a better cook
Having fewer ingredients to choose from will make you a more creative cook, encouraging you to try something different and to cook outside your usual repertoire. It also encourages you to really get to know your ingredients, resulting in greater intuity as a cook.

In sharing my seasonally-led recipes, I’m hoping to give you the confidence to cook freely. To experiment with flavours and substitutes and not be bound by a recipe ingredient list. To develop your palate and use everything. The practice of building flavours through using leftovers has many benefits and rewards. And then you too can enjoy the spoils of cooking seasonally.

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