British seasonal food in December – what to eat now

British seasonal food in December 2020

As the year draws to a close, it’s time for hearty meals, traditional ingredients and feasting. There’s plenty of delicious British seasonal food in December, so fill your boots.

Look out for Brussels sprouts and parsnips on the festive table, apples for baking in crumbles and pies with plenty of cinnamon, imported treats such as dates and clementines, British turkey and game, some of the best fish and shellfish, and December’s Christmassy cheeses.

British fruit in season in December

British Seasonal Food in December homegrown and imported fruit and nuts
Clockwise from top left: sweet chestnuts, clementines, medjool dates, cranberries

Home-grown fruit

  • apples
  • cranberries
  • medlars
  • pears (from store)
  • quinces

Best imported seasonal fruit

  • clementines
  • dates
  • passion fruit
  • pineapples (Caribbean)
  • pomegranates
  • easy peelers (satsumas, tangerines etc)

Nuts in season in December

  • almonds (imported)
  • hazelnuts (from store)
  • sweet chestnuts (imported or from store)
  • walnuts (from store)

Vegetables in season in December

British Seasonal Food in December vegetables veg UK
Clockwise from top left: red cabbage, brussels sprouts, parsnips, celery

  • beetroot (stored)
  • Brussels sprouts and sprout tops
  • celeriac
  • celery (white fenland)
  • chard (grown under cover)
  • chicory
  • endive
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • kale
  • leeks
  • pak choi (grown under cover)
  • parsnips
  • pumpkin and winter squash (from store)
  • salsify
  • scorzonera
  • swedes
  • turnips
  • winter cabbage (Savoy, red, white)
  • winter radish (stored)
  • winter salad leaves (grown under cover)

[Available most months in good condition: button mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower, maincrop potatoes, onions, rocket.]

Recommended seasonal veg books & box delivery

Herbs in season in December

  • thyme
  • winter savory

[Always available: chives, coriander, parsley grown under cover; older leaves of hardy perennials like bay, rosemary, sage, thyme.]

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Wild / foraged food in season in December

British Seasonal Food in December wild foraged food uk
Left to right: sloes, black truffle

The colder it gets, the harder it is to find foraged food, but you might still be lucky with these two ingredients.

  • sloes
  • wild mushrooms (winter chanterelles, truffle)

[Take great care when foraging as it’s very easy to confuse edible and poisonous ingredients.]

Recommended foraged & wild food books

Fish in season in December

British Seasonal Food in December fish shellfish seafood UK
Clockwise from top left: king scallops, haddock, oysters, turbot

Seasonal fish varies greatly around the UK, and from year to year, but here’s a rough guide to what’s on sale now and considered to be more sustainable.

British sustainable fish

  • brill
  • clams
  • cockles
  • coley / saithe
  • crab (spider)
  • dab
  • flounder
  • gurnard (grey & red)
  • haddock
  • hake
  • halibut (farmed)
  • herring
  • mackerel
  • monkfish
  • mussels
  • oysters
  • pike
  • plaice
  • pollock
  • pouting / bib
  • prawns
  • sole (Dover / common, lemon, Torbay / witch)
  • sprat / whitebait
  • trout
  • wild turbot

[To the best of my knowledge, the list above excludes critically endangered fish. Visit The Good Fish Guide from the Marine Conservation Society for the latest lists which change regularly.]

Less sustainable December fish

You should still be able to find these if you use a responsible fishmonger:

  • cod
  • cuttlefish
  • langoustine / scampi
  • scallops (King)
  • seabass (wild)
  • seabream
  • whelks
  • whiting

[In good condition almost all year: herring, farmed sea bream and turbot, megrim sole, sustainably-fished monkfish, rope-grown mussels and prawns.]

Recommended seasonal fish & shellfish books

Meat, poultry and game in season in December

British Seasonal Food in December meat game and poultry UK
Clockwise from top left: goose, partridge, turkey, red deer

  • capercaillie
  • hare
  • mallard
  • partridge
  • pheasant
  • snipe
  • teal
  • turkey (best quality breeds)
  • venison (red deer, fallow deer, sika deer, roe does)
  • widgeon
  • wild duck
  • wild goose
  • woodcock
  • wood pigeon

[Always available in good condition: beef, chicken, pork, farmed venison, rabbit, pigeon.]

Recommended meat, game & poultry books

Cheese in season in December

British Seasonal Food in December cheese cheeses UK French
Clockwise from top left: Vacherin Mont d’Or, Wensleydale, Blue Stilton, Munster d’Alsace cheese

A traditional Christmas cheese board usually includes some strong Cheddar (available most months), a Stilton or other quality blue cheese, and maybe something softer or more squidgy such as Brie or Camembert for contrast. Just add port and crackers!

British-made cheese in season

  • Stilton
  • Other blue cheeses (Blue Wensleydale, Stichelton etc)
  • Baron Bigod (a UK brie-style cheese)

Imported December cheeses

  • Munster d’Alsace (traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve)
  • Vacherin Mont d’Or
  • Extra mature Comte and other Alpine cheeses

Many people like to buy some ripe French Camembert around this time of year too, to add to their cheese board (plus it matches well with cranberry sauce). Technically the cows will have been brought indoors and won’t be eating fresh grass, but it should still have a good flavour.

[Many quality mature cheeses are available year-round, particularly hard cheeses.]

Recommended cheese & wine books + delivery

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We love seasonal UK food in December!

Well now, ’tis the season for treats and feasts, and all the party snacks. I do also like the occasional quiet night in with a good book and a satsuma or two to snack on, or something healthy-ish like a winter vegetable gratin or some simple grilled fish.

We also like a chicory, blue cheese, apple and walnut salad on nights when nobody feels like cooking. Winter salads are delicious and fresh, plus it’s a nice change from all the mince pies, crisps and chocolates.

We’ll be cracking out the sprouts, roast parsnips, spiced red cabbage and cranberry sauce on Christmas Day too. This year I’ll also be making some puff pastry chestnut tartlets with porcini mushrooms for the veggie contingent as a turkey alternative, adapted from a dip recipe, which should be savoury and delicious.

Recommended seasonal inspiration (GREAT FOR GIFTS!)

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What will you be cooking and eating this December? Any seasonal food favourites you can’t miss? Let us know in the comments below.

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