Blogs

Write new blog
HughFW

June at River Cottage

by HughFW published on
, ,

I don’t think I could ever be pinned down decisively on which time of year is my favourite, but early summer has got to rank as a pretty hot contender for the top spot. It’s not just the balmy days (if we’re lucky), or the long evenings (which, hopefully, are filled with play rather than work), it’s something to do with the sheer, brazen green-ness of it.

Fresh young leaves and lush new grass have that particular shade of shining, yellowy green that seems to glow with energy and to almost give off its own light. You see it everywhere, from city centre parks and B-road hedgerows to riverbanks and deep woods and, of course, our own back yards.

June is the month when the garden comes good in a very real and satisfying sense. The work that’s gone into it – both the gardener’s own efforts and that rather more mysterious and indefinable work done by the elements, the seasons and the soil itself – suddenly starts to bear fruit in the most fabulous and delicious way.

I’ve been growing fruit and veg for well over a decade now and I never tire of the sight of a veg patch chock-a-block with verdant growth, or a greenhouse whose windows are half obscured by sky-reaching vines, tendrils and stems.

True, much of the actual produce is still a little on the immature side, but by now I can at least see what it will become: the incipient green chillies that will glow with colour and heat in a few weeks time, or the hard, green berries on the currant bushes that will soon be bursting with sugary juices.

In any case, there are many veg which are absolutely worth eating in these very early stages – indeed, I have to restrain myself from harvesting too many finger-sized courgettes and  miniature carrots in order to ensure there’s some left to see me through the summer.

If you grow some of your own fruit and veg, you will know what I’m talking about. And I’d urge you to look at this time of year as an invitation to sample your produce in its purest, sweetest, truest manifestation.

I eat more raw food in June and early July than at any other time because when peas, beans, greens, herbs and even some roots are still in their juicy infancy, they taste fantastic uncooked. Just picked, briefly washed and patted dry, everything from tiny beetroot to just-unfurled chard leaves and baby fennel bulbs will amaze you with its intense flavour.

Take a bit of time over preparation – finely sliced or julienned veg are often particularly delicious – and add a little top-notch seasoning in the form of extra virgin oils, lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and you will not be disappointed.


It’s no accident that we chose June as the month for our fantastic River Cottage Spring into Summer Fair. This event, now in its fourth year, is a terrific opportunity for visitors to explore River Cottage HQ and meet some of the people who make the place tick. There will be live music, activities for kids, demos, talks, workshops and, of course, lots and lots of lovely food.

One of my favourite elements in the mix is our hugely popular produce exchange stall. We invite all our visitors to bring along some of their own produce, whether it’s a few dozen eggs, an armful of fresh spinach, or a batch of homemade flapjacks, and swap it with others.

It’s always a great success and it sums up to me what the fair is all about: celebrating this most exciting part of the year when everything is starting to fruit, flourish and flow. Even if you can’t make it to Park Farm for the fair on June 12th, you could always organise a little bit of produce-trading with your friends and neighbours.

In my experience, not many people will turn down something homegrown or homemade – and just about everyone has something to offer.  

3 replies
Replied on

Should I be worried about the weather forecast for Sunday?

Replied on

Hugh - wonderful opening paragraph. I agree. Green park tonight in London is just the most magical collection of greens. More importantly though - your new hair cut is fab!

Replied on

I've never particularly liked raw veg, but served with the dip of Hugh's from the River Cottage Everyday Cookbook (and also a good one by Sarah Raven in her Food for Friends and Family Cookbook), even I was convinced. Debra

To leave a response to the post you will need to be a registered user. Sign-up here or Login here
@rivercottage
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Only 7 tickets left for our @martinharley gig in April. Don't miss out! https://t.co/H8x7p0PrL8 link
  • A beautiful sunset over the valley tonight! link
  • RT @RCChefsSchool: Welcoming our first #Trainees to River Cottage - the first step of their 3 month work experience programme. link
  • Hey @nationaltrust still looking for lovely frosty pics? :o)
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Wrap up warm, it's frosty out there! link
  • RT @plymouthcanteen: Feeling hungry this lunch time... Visit @plymouthcanteen for 3 small plates for only £10! link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Tickets just released for our @sohsteve gig on 22 May, which kick starts our #RCFoodFair weekend. Grab a ticket now! ht…
  • Make the most of your oven's energy, cook meals in bulk where poss. Reheating uses less energy. Top tip via @wwwfoecouk
  • . @johnmushroom looks like someone needs a #selfie stick!
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: We have discounted tickets available for this Sunday's dining experience. Gather your loved ones + come on down! https:…
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: The only thing blue about our Monday is the sky. #BlueMonday link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Want to meet @GillMeller and hear about his forthcoming book #pigsandpork? Don't miss this! https://t.co/MHIsUvUb7t htt…
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Gain work-experience in our @RCChefsSchool – free traineeships starting 26 Jan – travel expenses paid. link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: How much cake is too much cake? The fruits of our labour from today's #cake course in our #cookeryschool... http://t.co…
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Hooray! #pastrysuccess #choux link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Oh dear #pastryfail link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Time for our third breakfast of the day. It's a hard life at our #cookeryschool... link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Time for a second breakfast at the #cookeryschool... Drop scones with runny honey. link
  • @anneHuscroft1 so lovely to hear, thanks Anne! Any plans to come back to the farm soon?
  • RT @Hartsturkeys: Great stuff @ChefTomKerridge @BBCFoodandDrink @rivercottage. The best 30mins of TV this week. Looking forward to @Corriga
  • RT @jiholland111: @rivercottage @BBCFoodandDrink Great show. Excellent banter with @ChefTomKerridge :)
  • @linsalad @BBCFoodandDrink glad to hear it :o)
  • Hope you are all enjoying Hugh on @BBCFoodandDrink right now, BBC2!
  • @CharlotteClare1 sorry, blame Hugh!
  • And of course we couldn't let Hugh go without a birthday cake #50yearsofHugh #AskHugh link
  • And if you'd like to buy the book, check it out here! #lightandeasy #askHugh link
  • Thank you, its been great chatting! Have to dash, making a birthday cake for a fellow 50-year-old. Chocolate + hazelnut, pg 374! #askHugh
  • .@Eco_Gite It spreads like mad so not in the veg patch, better in a big pot, but it does take nearly a year to produce good sized roots.
  • . @Lou_la_may Default topping is a sprinkling of soft brown sugar but a trickle of runny honey is also great. #askHugh
  • .@trishaocf Could be your choice of flour or that your sd starter needs a feed up, take a good tblsp, feed it for a few days & start again.
  • . @bookslinger always lovely to hear that people are cooking from my books and enjoying the results! #askHugh
  • .@harrycornwall Cider is a good choice, I would choose a fairly dry one as the onions are quite sweet #AskHugh
  • . @_DjTC_ soon! Early Feb is good, provided you can keep them frost-free. A sunny window is good. #askHugh
  • .@IantheCW I'm all over the roots right now, big trays of them roasted and finished with a sprinkling of toasted seeds and spices #AskHugh
  • . @ACoSfChildren but it's so flat! Actually I do have a soft spot for Norfolk and it's been a while so who knows. #askHugh
  • .@rojob1 Yes, series 3 coming your way very soon and as ever Paul champions the sustainable approach to fish, veg and meat #AskHugh
  • . @missaniela really sorry but I'm not around for that one. I will be here for the Spring Food Fair in May... #askHugh
  • .@pupspigspoulets We said goodbye to our Oxford Sandy & Blacks before Christmas, they were fab! We like ringing the changes though. #AskHugh
  • . @bookslinger It's always a treat to be given other people's goodies. Of course I try them! #askHugh
  • .@GrowandEat That's a tough one to comment on without knowing the whole picture.
  • . @MyrtlesGarden there's a lovely potato gnocchi recipe in RC Veg and you could swap a GF flour in for the wheat flour. #askHugh
  • .@pickleshlee A good way to deliver vitamins and fibre but not to be drunk by the gallon as they are often quite high in sugar #AskHugh
  • . @AmberLofts523 that's better than a birthday suit! #askHugh
  • . @NellieRBean once it's all mixed up you should keep in the fridge and eat within two days #askHugh
  • .@acornwoodcraft I like dual purpose varieties eg Light Sussex Dumpies & Road Island Reds, but Hubbards are good free range modern meat bird
  • . @EmzJ_Smith It's a great campaign, we should be eating this lovely stuff. Let's hope supermarkets get the message @jamieoliver #askHugh
  • .@dikparkes I'll be back in the Autumn with a brand new series - something a bit different too! #AskHugh
  • . @beanbrackets That sounds like my dear Uncle Will - an outstanding gardener and all round top bloke. #askHugh
  • .@petermartindk Grow vertically to max returns. E.G. Climbing peas & beans, plus herbs you like best, thyme, sage and Rosemary are my favs.
  • . @Cooked_UK There are lots I hope. Check out the salad section for some zingy and elegant #lightandeasy starters. #askHugh
Login or Sign-up

Login & Sign-up

Forgotten your password? Retrieve it here
Or connect via Facebook
Connect with Facebook
Join River Cottage
Close
Shopping basket: 0 items £0.00