How to add seasonal ingredients to your menu
Each season has seasonal products that, if used adequately, can fill your restaurant’s menu with an array of flavours. Regardless of the type of restaurant or the cuisine it offers (Oriental, Italian, Mediterranean…), including seasonal products in your dishes is a quite simple way to add something new to your menu. In this article we will tell you to do it. Make a note!
Why use seasonal ingredients?
Seasonal products are available at the best time to be consumed, which means their nutritional properties, taste and texture are intact. Although nowadays we can enjoy all types of produce throughout the year (thanks to refrigerators and greenhouses), seasonal products have a unique taste. But not only that, they also have a few additional advantages:
Out-of-season produce normally comes from other countries or needs more resources for their production or transport, which increases their price. Seasonal products, on the other hand, have lower production costs and as they are widely available, they are cheaper.
Seasonal products are also much more sustainable and environmentally friendly, as they follow nature’s cycles. If, in addition, they are local, not only we can avoid the additional environmental impact produced by the transport of these goods, but they also arrive at the restaurant fresher, preserving all their properties.
Tastier recipes, and more nutritious
As these products grow in the conditions they are mean to, they retain all their nutrients and flavour, so your recipes will have an unmatched quality.
Update your menu
Seasonal ingredients offer a perfect opportunity to renew your restaurant’s menu. If you use local products typical of your area (fish, meat, vegetables…), you should try to highlight them to give them more prominence to promote responsible consumption among your customers.
By using seasonal ingredients, you can differentiate yourself from other restaurants with a similar cuisine. If you offer different dishes each season, your guests will appreciate the differences and will know that in your restaurant they can discover exclusive and surprising alternatives.
How to adapt your menu
Working with fresh products at their best in taste and ripeness will add a distinct touch to all your recipes. You don’t need to change your menu completely; with a few small adjustments you will be able to give these ingredients the importance they deserve.
- Go through the dishes you offer at your restaurant, be it the daily menu, menus for special occasions or groups, and also the ingredients used in each recipe.
- When it comes to introducing seasonal ingredients, you can choose from many different options. There is no magic formula, you just have to think about your customers and what they are looking for when they come to your restaurant:
- Your own seasonal creations. You can keep some basic dishes you are especially good and add new seasonal recipes. By doing this, you can design recipes around a specific ingredient, making it the real star of the dish.
- Old recipes with a new twist. Identify the star dishes of your menu and introduce seasonal ingredientes in the recipe to differentiate them those on offer at other times.
- Study the products available each season and think about possible combinations of ingredients or recipes. If you also want to use local products, pay special attention to those produced near your restaurant. You will always find a seasonal ingredient that suits both your sweet and savoury dishes.
- When you know what ingredients and recipes you want to include in your menu, choose the suppliers that will guarantee you get the best products.
- Draw the attention to these dishes, not only to giving them a privileged place on your menu, but also making sure that your staff knows them to be able to suggest them to the diners.
Products for each season
The options are not only reduced to fruits and vegetables, we can also find seasonal meats and fish. Have a calendar at hand and make a note:
Winter is the season for citrus fruits, such as tangerines, oranges, grapefruits or lemons. Although many of these fruits can be found in the supermarket almost all year round, take advantage that they are now at their best to add them to your menus. With cold temperatures we also see other fruits such as persimmons, custard apples and kiwis; and vegetables such as artichokes, cauliflowers, escaroles, endives, or Brussels sprouts. All of them are ideal to take the centre stage of your dishes.
Spring fruits have many uses in the kitchen, especially in desserts and breakfast options. Some of the most important are: avocado, blueberries, loquats, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, apricots, pineapples, grapefruits, plums, pears and bananas.
When the weather begins to improve, and we leave the cold of winter behind, beans, peas, garlics or green asparagus are also at their best; and also many other vegetables that remain in season after winter, such as cauliflower, spinach or chard.
Summer is the quintessential fruit month. Perhaps because the shop stalls are filled with colourful watermelons, cherries, peaches, plums, donut peaches… which are just ripe. It is also the time for cold dishes such as gazpacho, as its main ingredient, tomato, is at its best. Although we eat it throughout the year, if you work with any local producers you will know that their natural season goes from the end of June to October.
It is also a good time fot other cold dish ingredients, such as cucumbers, courgettes or peppers. Summer classics!
Autumn tastes like figs, chestnuts, game meat and pumpkin soup. In the market we start to see game meat; dishes that pair very well with mushrooms or nuts, so typical of autumn. For gourmets, it is also time for the black truffle, a seasoning that enhances the flavour of any dish.
We are fotunate to have wide selection of seasonal products at our disposal at any time of the year. Take advantage of this and turn your restaurant menu into a surprise and a continous learning opportunity for your diners.