Khoollect tips: Harry Eastwood’s guide to eating seasonally

***Rachel Khoo would like to thank all the inspiring people who helped make the Khoollect studio a hive of creativity. Although the Khoollect studio’s doors have now closed, you can keep up with Rachel’s newest adventures on and on Rachel’s Instagram and Facebook pages – and, continue to enjoy the Khoollect website’s stories and recipes, which will remain available.***

Countless blogs, books and restaurant menus insist it’s best to eat seasonally. But what does this mean? And, how does one go about eating seasonally? We asked Paris-based food writer, TV presenter and cookbook author Harry Eastwood — the woman behind the book CARNEVAL — to fill us in. Here’s what she told us:

‘Seasonal’ is one of those words constantly used by chefs and food writers that is hard to pin down. What does eating seasonally actually mean and why does it matter?

Eating seasonally means eating locally produced ingredients, and this applies as much to meat and dairy as it does to fruit and vegetables. The best way to ensure that you’re eating seasonal and local produce is to build a relationship and talk to the person who’s selling it to you. If you’re shopping in the supermarket, this means taking care to read the labels and finding out where the ingredients have come from. Remember: seasonal = local.

It’s easy to understand how eating seasonally works with fruit and vegetables, but what does it mean in relation to meat and dairy?

The short answer is that animals that go into the best quality meat you can buy, eat locally grown food — rather than industrially produced feed flown in from half a globe away. The best example of this for cows and sheep is grass.

In the case of cattle, their feed can be supplemented in the winter months with the likes of barley, wheat, soya or peas for example. This is because they need to spend a little more time indoors due to the change of weather and also lay down a little extra fat to help with managing the colder temperature. Most farmhouse or artisan cheese is therefore also seasonal because the grass that the dairy cows eat changes with the seasons. My favourite example of this is Vacherin, which is an unpasturised washed rind cheese from the Jura that is traditionally eaten in France around Christmas time and into early spring (latest) because the milk used in its production comes from spring grass. Vacherin is at its best roughly 9 months later. This is how meat and dairy can be seasonal.

If you’re craving fruit or vegetables that are out of season, then plan ahead and get jamming or pickling! As we speak, I’m preserving cherries for the autumn and winter months when the availability of fruit with kick and colour starts to slow down in Paris where I live.

The most compelling reason to seek out seasonal food whether fruit and vegetables or meat and dairy, is simply that seasonal ingredients are always fresh, environmentally friendly and packed with natural, rainbow flavours and colours.

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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Try our guide to reducing food waste.

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Laura Edwards