The best British seasonal foods in May are a mixture of luxury flavours and more humble old favourites. Treat yourself to fresh spears of asparagus, the first strawberries, Jersey Royal potatoes, globe artichokes and an imported Alphonso mango or two, or enjoy elderflowers and wild garlic (also called ramsons) for free. Many kitchen gardens will be bursting with baby vegetables by the end of the month too, including broad beans, carrots and turnips.
Fruit in season in May
Strawberries (first few), rhubarb
Best imported seasonal fruit
Alphonso mangoes, pineapples
Vegetables in season in May
Asparagus, baby broad beans, baby carrots, broccoli (calabrese), garlic (new season, wet), globe artichokes, Jersey Royal potatoes, lettuce, new potatoes, radishes, seakale, spinach, spring greens and spring cabbage, spring onions, baby turnips, watercress
Available most months in good condition: broccoli, button mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower, maincrop potatoes, onions, rocket.
Herbs in season in May
Basil, chervil, chives, coriander, lovage, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sorrel, summer savory, tarragon, thyme
Always available: chives, coriander, parsley grown under cover; older leaves of hardy perennials like bay, rosemary, sage, thyme.
Wild / foraged food available in May
Elderflowers, morel mushrooms, St George’s mushrooms, samphire (rock), wild garlic
Take great care when foraging as it’s easy to confuse edible and poisonous ingredients.
Fish in season in May
Seasonal fish varies greatly around the UK, but here is a rough guide to what’s on sale now.
Brown shrimp, coley, crab, crayfish (signal), cuttlefish, hake, john dory, langoustine, lobster, plaice, pollack, pouting, sea trout (and brown trout)
To the best of my knowledge, the list above excludes critically endangered fish. Visit The Good Fish Guide from the Marine Conservation Society for latest lists.
Fish in season in May, less sustainable
Cod, wild salmon
In good condition almost all year: herring, farmed sea bream and turbot, megrim sole, sustainably-fished monkfish, rope-grown mussels, prawns.
Meat, poultry and game in season in May
New season lamb, poussin / spring chicken
Always available in good condition: beef, chicken, pork, rabbit, farmed venison, wood pigeon.
Cheese in season in May
English soft cheeses, ewe’s milk cheeses, fresh goat cheeses, Stinking Bishop. Imported: Coulommiers, Camembert.
Many quality mature cheeses are available year-round.