A platter of Scottish seafood at Loch Fyne Oyster Bar
Raspberry picking at Cairnie Fruit Farm, near Cupar
Thanks to its fertile and rich land, Scotland has a reputation for producing some of the finest quality food in the world. From tender lamb in spring and fresh summer berries to autumnal game meats and winter’s seafood harvest, there are plenty of seasonal dishes to enjoy.
Spring menus are full of tasty produce, with refreshing leafy salads of spring greens, young carrots and the first crop of asparagus making an appearance.
Main course meat dishes begin to feature succulent lamb, rabbit and woodpigeon, and there are also plenty of fish options. Plaice, lobster and herring will all appear on the specials boards of restaurants and pubs for the first time in the year.
With rhubarb crops at their finest in spring, you’ll find it in puddings and deserts throughout the season, often served as a crumble or with fine Scottish shortbread.
When blooming flowers and flourishing countryside signals the start of the summer months, fruit really comes into its own in Scotland.
Berries will feature in many deserts, and you can also pick your own at fruit farms in areas including Perthshire, Fife and the Scottish Borders. A popular desert at this time of year is cranachan - a sumptuous mix of raspberries, oats, cream, honey and whisky.
Fish is also in abundance in summer, with herrings, mackerel, trout and seabass featuring on menus beside popular year-round seafood such as crab, oysters and scallops.
On the vegetable front you’ll find that aubergines are the main ingredient of many dishes and the strong flavour of fennel will be found in soups and sauces.
Many root vegetables such as parsnips, squash and turnips come in to season in September, October and November ensuring that heart-warming soups become a firm fixture on menus.
Rich meats, including game are also the main feature in autumn with venison being joined by duck and goose as well as grouse, partridge and pheasant. Lobster and langoustine season begins in September and brown trout may also be served.
Autumnal fruits include apples and elderberries, as well as damsons, pears and plums which are often used in warm crumbles and stewed puddings.
As towns and cities gear up for the winter festivities, the smell of roasting chestnuts is in the air at many markets.
Turkey is of course in season, and menus will also offer gamey alternatives such as grouse, wild duck or pheasant. Rustic vegetables such as parsnips, chicory, kale and red cabbage are used to accompany meat as tasty sides. Seafood comes into its own in winter, with fresh catches including lobster, sea bass, scallops and halibut.
Surprisingly, you might see the fleshy innards of ruby red pomegranate fruits in salads, as a garnish or to flavour stews. Rhubarb and pears are more common fruits often cooked in crumbles, sponge cakes and other warming puddings.