British seasonal food in May – what to eat now

Welcome to the comprehensive guide to the best British seasonal food in May. It includes UK fruit, vegetables, foraged foods, herbs, fish, meat, game and cheeses, plus a few imported ingredients.

Food production is often just getting started this month as the weather starts to warm up a little more. Many overwintered crops are finishing around now, but those much-awaited new roots, shoots and fruits are starting to come though too.

Looking for a seasonal treat? The first few UK strawberries are ready to pick, especially if they’ve been grown in greenhouses in the southern counties, and there are some tasty baby vegetables to cook up. Look out for delicious Jersey Royal new potatoes too.

Here’s what’s at its absolute best over the next few weeks. Enjoy.

Fruit in season in May

Clockwise from top left: Alphonso mangoes, strawberries, pineapples, rhubarb

There’s a relatively small selection, but it’s all delicious:

Home grown British fruit

  • strawberries (first few)
  • rhubarb

Best imported seasonal fruit

  • Alphonso mangoes
  • pineapples

Recommended seasonal fruit books

Vegetables in season in May

British seasonal food in May UK home grown vegetables
Clockwise from top left: baby broad beans, asparagus, new potatoes, new season garlic

There’s plenty for you to choose from in May:

  • asparagus
  • baby broad beans
  • baby carrots
  • broccoli (calabrese)
  • garlic (new season, wet)
  • globe artichokes
  • Jersey Royal potatoes
  • lettuce and other salad
  • new potatoes
  • radishes
  • seakale
  • spinach
  • spring greens and spring cabbage
  • spring onions
  • baby turnips
  • watercress

You may also be able to find some very early season peas from plants that have been started off under cover.

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

Recommended seasonal veg books & box delivery

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.]

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Wild / foraged food in May

Clockwise from top left: wild garlic, elderflowers, morels, samphire
  • elderflowers
  • morel mushrooms
  • St. George’s mushrooms
  • samphire (rock)
  • wild garlic

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

Recommended foraging & wild food books

Fish in season in May

British seasonal food in May fish shellfish and seafood with flounder brown crab pollock and plaice
Clockwise from top left: flounder, brown crab, plaice, pollock

Seasonal fish varies greatly around the UK, and weather fluctuations are also likely to affect spawning and peak seasons, but here’s a rough guide to what’s at its best and on sale now.

British Fish in May, sustainable

  • coley / saithe
  • crab (brown / edible)
  • flounder
  • herring / sild
  • lobster (European)
  • plaice
  • pollock
  • pouting / bib
  • prawns (Northern)
  • rainbow 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

You may also be able to find the following fish and seafood from responsible fishmongers:

  • brown shrimp
  • langoustine / scampi / Dublin Bay prawn
  • wild salmon

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

Recommended fish & shellfish books

Meat, poultry and game in season in May

British seasonal meat and poultry in May with new season lamb and poussin
Left to right: new season lamb, poussin
  • new season lamb
  • poussin / spring chicken

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

Recommended meat, poultry & game books

Cheese in season in May

British seasonal food in May cheese with UK sheep's cheese and Stinking Bishop and imported Camembert and Coulommiers
Clockwise from top left: fresh ewe’s milk cheese, Stinking Bishop, Camembert, Coulommiers

This month, more soft and squidgy quality cheeses start to arrive in the shops. Make the most of it if you’re a seasonal cheese fan.

British-made cheese

  • English soft cheeses
  • ewe’s milk cheeses
  • fresh goat cheeses
  • Stinking Bishop

Imported cheese in May

  • Camembert
  • Coulommiers

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

Recommended cheese & wine books & subscription

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What we’re eating at Golightly Gardens

As we start to move out of the ‘hungry gap’ there’s more to choose from, and I think I might treat us to some early Kentish strawberries if I can find any. Also, a bundle of British asparagus for a treat, maybe with crispy garlic breadcrumbs on top as a starter, or I could make more of a midweek dinner of it with fried eggs on top and buttered new potatoes on the side.

We didn’t get out to the cheesemonger last month, but it’s probably time to pick up a tub of fresh goat cheese, a small camembert and a wedge of Stinking Bishop for cheeseboard heaven. If there are any leftovers, a goat cheese salad with lettuce and peas, and a big spring vegetable gratin are next on the menu.

Delicious seasonal ingredients I’ve already eaten include mangoes, homegrown rhubarb, spinach, lettuce and potted shrimp, and I’m looking forward to a few radishes and fresh herbs from our kitchen garden too.

What are you looking forward to cooking up this month?

Do you have any favourite recipes for these seasonal ingredients?

Recommended general seasonal books for inspiration

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