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What's in season in December

The festive season brings a traditional bounty of fresh fruit and veg that no classic Christmas would be complete without. Serve sprouts and parsnips alongside your turkey, add cranberries to colourful cocktails and dates to sticky Christmas puddings. Don’t forget to tuck a clementine into the bottom of stockings!

  1. Clementines

    Small and sweet, clementines are a hybrid of tangerines and oranges. Easy to peel and exceptionally sweet, there are over 20 varieties of clementine. The fruit will keep in the fridge for up to one week. Clementines are perfect for Christmas showstopper puds – finely slice for a clementine and chestnut chocolate tart or juice and freeze into a clementine granita. They can even play a big part in crisp, seasonal salads, like this red cabbage, clementine and mozzarella delight. For festive parties or Christmas gifting, try this cranberry and clementine gin.

  2. Brussels sprouts

    Sprouts have a sweet, nutty flavour, and taste great raw or cooked. Sprouts do cook quickly and can become bitter and mushy when overdone, so do make sure you watch them carefully! Although they should be firm, a sharp knife should still easily slide into the stem. Brussels sprouts are a classic accompaniment to traditional Christmas dinner – experiment with a crisp Parmesan crust, cook in brown butter and top with a garlicky crumb, or dot with a Marmite butter even the haters will love. If you have leftover sprouts after Christmas, bake into this sprout, blue cheese and walnut puff pastry tart.

    Brussels sprouts
  3. Cranberries

    Cranberries are harvested in the autumn when the fruit turns deep red in colour – perfect for the festive season. Fresh cranberries are sharp in taste and, if frozen, can be kept for up to nine months. Show off their bold colour in a chicken, mushroom and cranberry pie or vivid cranberry meringue pie. If you’re having a Christmas party, make a pretty batch of cranberry Kir Royales for adults and cranberry lemonade cordial for kids.

  4. Parsnips

    Parsnips have an earthy flavour and were used in Europe as a sweetener before cane sugar arrived in the 1800s. Choose smaller parsnips, as larger ones are likely to be less sweet. They can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. Parsnips are great for adding to hearty vegetarian mains that vegetarians and meat-eaters will love – choose between a pretty savoury carrot and parsnip cake  or spicy harissa vegetable bake. For an interesting side dish, try miso and honey baked parsnips.

  5. Dates

    Sweet and sticky dates are a staple of the festive season – while dried dates are available year-round, fresh ones are best from November to January. The deep brown, wrinkled Medjool variety of dates is the sweetest, with a rich toffee-like taste. Use to add fudgy texture and depth to the sweetness in this vegan self-saucing date and caramel pudding or serve prosciutto wrapped dates filled with blue cheese for a festive starter.