Seasonal food in Europe


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The seasons have played an important role in European culture and society since the dawn of civilisations. This may be because Europe enjoys a much warmer climate than other continent at the same latitude, so that people can live in unusually high latitudes, like 50°, 55° or even 60° from the equator (e.g. Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki). The sun doesn't rise much higher than the horizons in these latitudes in late autumn and early winter. In late spring and early summer, the sun sets very late in the evening (past midnight in Nordic countries).

But the seasons also played a major role in European culinary habits. Lots of mushrooms as well as game (venison, pheasant, rabbit, wild boar...) is eaten in autumn. Foie gras and pâtés are popular in the cold winter, as are waffles and crêpes (the French and Belgian traditionally eat crêpes at Candlemas in January). French restaurants will consequently serve more dishes with game and mushrooms in autumn.

The Germans eat fat dishes like Eisbein in winter to have energy to fight off the cold. Sausages and mashed potatoes are also more popular during the colder months.

In Northern Europe, Mediterranean dishes are now more common in summer because they match better the body requirement imposed by hot weather (more salt, more water, lighter food).

Many desserts or sweets are reliant on seasonal fruits, and therefore only common during one or two months of the year. Jams and compotes are made when fruits become ripe. For cherries it is late July or early August, but plums, apples and pears have to wait until September. In Northern France and Belgium, it is around September only than one can find 'mirabelle plum' tart. Home-made strawberry sherbet is a dessert for May or June.

Drinks are also liable to the seasons. New vintages of wine are released from late November.

Do you have particular seasonal dishes in your region ? Please share your knowledge with us.
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The most obvious things I can think of are foods particular to Christmas and Easter - although I have no clue which of these - if any - are "native" to England. We traditionally have Christmas cake and Christmas pudding, both of these are very rich and made with a lot of fruit as well as brandy, the main difference being that the cake is baked in the oven, later iced with marzipan and royal icing, whereas the pudding is boiled and served hot with cream, custard or white sauce. Before it is served it is often soaked in brandy and set alight, to be brought to the table in blue flames. :blush: At Christmas we also have mince pies (which don't contain meat "mince" but rather something called "mincemeat" which confusingly these days no longer contains meat :mad: but is made of dried fruit, suet, brandy and sometimes bits of carrot - you can buy it in jars or make your own to a specific recipe :liplick: ). It's also traditional to have sausage rolls at Christmas.

Stollen is a traditional German Christmas food that is becoming more and more popular here in England. :p

At Easter, it's traditional to make something called "Simnel cake" which is a rich fruit cake not unlike Christmas cake but containing marzipan, and with a marzipan topping and 11 marzipan, erm, balls on the top... to represent the 12 apostles minus Judas. According to Wiki (I just looked it up - I didn't know this before :blush: ) it was originally made by servant girls to take to their mothers on mother's day. My mum makes a great simnel cake :liplick: but imo it's a dying tradition these days, not very many people make it.

On Mardi Gras it's traditional to eat pancakes and we call it "pancake day" or "pancake Tuesday" here. Originally that's because it's the day before Lent, when people used to fast, so on pancake Tuesday they'd use up all the fat and rich ingrediants they had left, making pancakes. (Same origin of the words "Mardi Gras" or "fat Tuesday" XD)

It is true there are still seasonal fruits and stuff, but importing, better storage facilities and things like that have reduced people's awareness of which desserts are in or out of season. However, understandably people prefer something light and cool during the hot weather, and more kinda "stodge" in the cold months. :blush:
In America, we have a tradition to roast a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, which is the fourth Thursday of November. People usually start to gather in the late morning and put the turkey in the oven. The whole house starts to fill with the good smell of turkey by the time we open another bottle of wine or beer in the afternoon.

Roasting and slow-cooking meat seems to be a big thing in the winter in the US; I was very excited to see it for the first time since in Japan I didn't have an oven that was big enough to cook a whole bird.

I'm not sure if this is true, but I heard that in Italy the ladies in that business make you 'pasta puttanesca' afterwords.:bluush:
Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving food are more what I would call "holidays food", rather the "seasonal food" eaten during several months, and available only/mostly during that period of the year because of seasonal weather change. A Christmas cake can be eaten even in a tropical country without seasons... That is not what I want to discuss here.
in Autumn and Winter small stands are almost everywhere selling roasted chestnuts and roasted potatoes... *___* and we have a lot of beautiful christmas markets here... Punch and Mulled Wine Hurray! ^^ and Langos (with garlic *drools*)...
for Eastern (and only there) there is the "Osterpinze" which I don't know how to translate... its something like a plaited bun... looks like this
and tastes incredible :cool:

and I almost forgot... "Sturmzeit(=time)"... Sturm is the thing between grapejuice and wine... its still quite sweet but has a bit of alcohol already... its way too delicious and really dangerous... you get drunk easily... and its only available a short time each autumn... :cool:

Can't think of anything else right now ^^

Oh and forgot one alcohol... "Eiswein" verrrrrrrry sweet wine, the grapes are gathered after the first frost... that's why its so sweet and also expensive, because the grapes can rot easily... well wine you can buy all around year, but still Eiswein for me is something from late autumn or early winter ^^

somehow Austria looks like a nation of alcoholics... :D especially in autumn/winter... >.> ah well... we ARE a wine nation ^^
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Ah yes - definitely chestnuts are a seasonal food! :cool: Sometimes you can see stands on the street selling roasted chestnuts here during the season. :liplick: Blackberries are also a seasonal food of autumn. ^^"

People really have lost a lot of their awareness of the seasonal nature of foods lately, though, due to improved storage and transport techniques. I'm still aware of some fruit seasons because I used to live in the country and go fruit-picking (for the purpose of making wines :p) but most city kids would look at you gone out if you mentioned that certain types of fruit and veg were "in" or "out of" season. :souka:

Winter = Brussels sprouts! :p :p :p
I wonder how eating habits will change when seasons warm up.
....but most city kids would look at you gone out if you mentioned that certain types of fruit and veg were "in" or "out of" season.

You're right Kinsao, and lot of fruit and vegtables are grown in hot houses now, so it is confusing when something is in season. Here in Japan my wife buys strawberries year round.
dunno if its right to open new topic, but can you give a list of seasonal foods in Europe that must be in my list when i do visit for vacation?
Great food..all round europe

I think every season in Europe has a variety of flavor for different foods and and even when you travel the different parts of Europe in the same season,you will find the different recipes of the same food.just talking about games and mushrooms and some exotic French food in autumn is really delicious when you eat in eastern Europe you will get the same taste with added flavor.
Seasonal food is not the food on holidays, but fruits, vegetables, which are fresh only during the particular season, in summer or autumn. Sea food is also the seasonal food, because it is easier to get it in summer, I think. In Ukraine, for example, the seasonal food is watermelon. Watermelons are usually accessible in the end of the summer and people wait for them to taste. Think it is a kind of seasonal food.

Kakis season mmmmmmmmmmm

At Easter in Spain are the "torrijas" an old dessert..


The "torrija" appears as documented in the fifteenth century, quoted by Juan del Encina, "honey and eggs Hazer many slices", apparently as a dish suitable for the recovery of women in labor. The first recipes date back to the Book of Cozine Macera Domingo Hernandez (1607) Art and Cozine, pastries, and cannery vizcocher?a Moti?o Francisco Mart?nez (1611). The French toast was in the early twentieth century very common in the taverns of Madrid and served with glasses of wine (flat)

Its association with Lent is perhaps due to the need to use bread that, during the time he could not eat meat, it was least used, although families make the same amount. In Spain, until the prohibition of Carnival by the Franco regime, were typical of the carnival celebrations.



The pesti?o is a sweet Christmas or Easter, or typical of Andalusia and other parts of southern Spain, made with dough, fried in olive oil and honey passed. Also made with sugar, as an alternative to honey.


Any cold winter is ideal for eating porridge with honey

Gachas is an ancestral basic dish from central and southern Spain. Its main ingredients are flour, water, olive oil, garlic and salt.


The bu?uelos are a traditional dessert in many regions and, especially during regional holidays. Each area features its own ingredients and its own tradition. One of the best known is the fritters, sort of fritter.
So tasty, yummy! What is 'Kakis' ? Never heard about this.

The persimmon (kaki) is a sweet, slightly tangy fruit with a soft to occasionally fibrous texture. This species, native to China, is deciduous, with broad, stiff leaves. Cultivation of the fruit extended first to other parts of east Asia, and was later introduced to California and southern Europe in the 19th century, to Brazil in the 1890s[3], and numerous cultivars have been selected. A variety is Diospyros kaki var. sylvestris Makino.

Personally I like the most succulent variety, which can consume almost absorbing inside, delicious.
Many thanks for the explanations, Carlitos. I have the great desire to taste. Oh, thank you for the link also. It will be interesting for me to read.
You shouldn't believe everything you read in the Wikipedia, mexiCarlitos.

Many thanks for the explanations, Carlitos. I have the great desire to taste. Oh, thank you for the link also. It will be interesting for me to read.

It is a pleasure when you try and tell me who you think.

Even i want to know about the seasonal dishes. and what is 'Kakis' .Never heard about this.

Pulp has a very sweet and juicy. The groups have an astringent taste astringent if they are over ripe or not they have been removed astringency.

Persimmons can be eaten fresh or used in the manufacture of a wide variety of desserts such as ice cream.

Producing countries
Currently, the main producing countries are Japan persimmons, China, USA, Brazil, India, Israel, Italy and Spain.

In Spain is mainly grown in Castell?n, Huelva, Seville, M?laga and Granada and, more than anywhere else in the Ribera del Jucar (Valencia).

Composition per 100 g of edible portion:

Calories: 65.6 kcal
Carbohydrates: 16 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g
Potassium: 190 mg
Magnesium: 9.5 mg
Provitamin A: 158.3 mg
Vitamin C: 16 mg
Folic acid: 7 g
Macedonia de frutas.

The fruit salad is a combination of assorted fruit cut into small pieces, which is seasoned with sugar, liqueur or fruit juice very typical in some countries and is making dessert.


Now part of the cuisine of many countries, including France, Italy, Spain.
I like a food from Europe because there are a lot of tasty cool meals that have a lot of meat and a lot of vegetables that are very useful for us

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