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Meat and dairy products are seasonal, too. Not just veggies!

There's a reason why we (used to) use the term "spring chicken"!

Meat and dairy products have seasons just like other foods, even though modern mass production has made it so that most items are available most of the time. -- Fresh pork is best at the same time as apples are abundant, and those same animals' hams put up to cure are ready in time for Easter feasting. Cows eat sweeter grass and develop more backfat from autumn grazing.

I'm thinking of a very ripe Saint-Marcellin cheese that I had in Lyon when the weather was warm;
"Late spring to early autumn
This is considered the best season for cheese production, because temperatures allow cows and goats to graze on flowers, herbs, and clover, so this period between April and November is when most cheeses are at their prime. Up in the mountains, where the climate is dry in the summers, and rich mountain flora grows in meadows, the animals produce a milk of excellent quality, with a high vitamin content, and natural, grassy flavors that are exceptional and make for very flavorful, almost fruity cheeses.
Best cheeses for this season: Banon (goat’s milk), Boulette, Cabecou, Crottin de Chavignol, Epoisses, Fontina, Livarot, Maroilles, Roquefort, Saint-Marcellin, and Saint-Pierre."

https://firstwefeast.com/eat/2014/06/high-life-decoded-seasonal-myths-meat

What are some of your greatest memories of seasonal meat and dairy foods, and where?

Posted by
2284 posts

Living along the coast, we were aware of the warning to not eat shellfish in months without an “r”.

Summer wasn’t a good time for shellfish consumption.

Posted by
2837 posts

I've heard various explanations as to why the shellfish and "r" months is a falsehood and also good reasons why it's true. I'm on the fence.

Recently at lunch in inland Istria, I ordered an omelette with sausage. I was told that sausage was not in season, proscuitto was. My husband ordered ravioli with wild mushrooms, but got wild asparagus instead. The latter I can understand, but we were a bit baffled by the idea that dried meat products could have a "season" yet there it was.

In Germany, ham does seem favored in spring, but I assumed that was because it was an accompaniment to the famous white asparagus so popular in that time.

Posted by
8981 posts

We had this experience when we lived in Italy. I wanted some ground lamb in September for a moussaka-like dish. Four different butchers at Mercato Trionfale told us ”Non é la stagione” (It’s not the season). We are so used to getting what we want when we want it in the US! The butchers told me the 2 or 3 weeks later and they’d have lamb, so at least we didn’t have to wait for spring.

Posted by
2202 posts

It was only oysters that we couldn't eat in a month without an 'r'. At our summer house, all the neighbors dug and ate shellfish all summer long. I've never run across that in Europe, other than French chocolate and Italian pastries...seems there is a season for chocolate designs and at least apple pastries. At home, veganism, vegetarianism and eating local does direct what we eat.

Posted by
984 posts

Seasonality is on my mind because I happened to see a cooking show on local PBS where one chef mentions to another that ramps (wild leeks) would also work well in the filling of a stuffed pasta dish they were making and the other chef replied "Sure, ramps are great but they're in season for only about two weeks a year!"

Posted by
1192 posts

In Germany we have seasonal products in the whole range of food, especially local specialties.

Posted by
6197 posts

“Sure, ramps are great but they're in season for only about two weeks a year!"

Correct, and you have to gather them—or they aren’t wild ramps. It’s like morel mushrooms or ginseng—wild.

This is again different from domesticated products that have a best season.

Posted by
3350 posts

We had this experience when we lived in Italy. I wanted some ground lamb in September for a moussaka-like dish. Four different butchers at Mercato Trionfale told us ”Non é la stagione” (It’s not the season). We are so used to getting what we want when we want it in the US! The butchers told me the 2 or 3 weeks later and they’d have lamb, so at least we didn’t have to wait for spring.

That would annoy me as lamb or it's more mature versions, hogget and mutton are available at some point throughout the year. In fact, if the butcher had been told what your requirement was then he would have known that hogget and mutton would be more suitable for such a dish.

Personally I don't think much of spring lamb, it's far too young and hasn't benefitted from a reasonable amount of time grazing, exercising and building up those important layers of flavourful fat. Lamb born in the spring tastes much better in late summer or early autumn (even better a year old!) so I can't understand why a butcher would not have any in September. A lot of lamb consumed in the UK at Easter is actually imported from New Zealand.

Posted by
8361 posts

Food in Switzerland is very seasonal. Nobody eats Fondue in summer apart from tourists. Currently the TV adverts are concentrating on barbecues.
Autumn is the game season, wild boar, deer and others. Served with Spätzli and red cabbage. Most of it is farmed and imported, chiefly from New Zealand. But Autumn in Switzerland is not Autumn in New Zealand, I am still trying to work that out☺

Currently it is soft fruit season, cherries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. In September we will have apples, and a few weeks later the game comes back.
Once it turns cold, the "Heissi Marroni" (hot chestnut) stands will open up, and they last until Spring.

A local speciality is "Nüssli salat", a small leafed salad, very tasty. It is available through the winter, but not in summer. In Germany it is called "Feldsalat", in France "mâche". I have never seen it in England, I suspect it doesn't have an English name.

Posted by
5402 posts

I think mache is "lambs lettuce" in the UK.
You can get it but it's not common.
It's one of my favourites.

Posted by
3350 posts

I think mache is "lambs lettuce" in the UK. You can get it but it's not common.
It's one of my favourites.

Yes, it is lamb's lettuce. I've found it to be readily available in Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose et al near me. I would like to say it can also be found at my lical greengrocer but I don't have one 😕

I’m a great fan of Brussels sprouts but refuse to buy them (in Britain) till after the first frost because I was told (when young) that gave them their flavour.

Posted by
466 posts

I understood the reason for not eating shellfish when there was no 'r' in the month stems back to the days before refrigeration, obviously made sense then, but now not an issue!