Seasonal Spring Lamb, Unseasonal Weather – Is That Right?May 2nd, 2007
It’s been another scorcher today, with blazing sunshine and gloriously clear blue skies. This unseasonal weather has thrown my body clock right out, I can tell you. I’m thinking I’m in the middle of high summer, not mid-spring. Please don’t get me wrong, this is not a complaint – far from it; I adore the sunshine. But there is a natural flow to the seasons; to the weather and indeed to the food we eat. This is spring; we should be experiencing mild sunshine and eating produce such as spring lamb….or should we?
I discovered, through a little internet research and a flick through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Meat’ book, that in actual fact the lamb available in the spring is not, contrary to popular belief, the best to eat. These lambs were born around November/December of the previous year and, sadly, sometimes reared indoors in order to meet demand. We have been led to believe that with the first rays of spring sunshine come the first lambs ready for our plate and the traditional meal at Easter is lamb. But spring is the time when lambs are, by the laws of nature, born, not the time when they are ready to eat. They need a few months of maturity first, which takes us to….summertime. This is when the true spring lamb is available and at its best. Summertime is when you will find the lamb that was raised in the spring and ate the new, fresh grass. That has to be good news for the flavour and quality of the meat. Perhaps it’s time to rethink some of the things we associate with our seasons?