Fruit & Vegetable Market Report – 2nd July 2017

Fruit & Vegetable Market Report –  2nd July 2017

The fascination for growers to turn all things purple is never ending. We’ve had Asparagus , Cauliflower, Carrots, Kale, Chicory, Broccoli, Radish, Little Gem… the list goes on. Its not to say its not a good thing and often is, so this week I’d like to highlight Purple Chinese Leaf. It has been around for a couple of years now, its official variety name is ‘Scarlette F1′ and with its neon pink leaves and mild pepperness taste is actually very good and worth a try.

English Frizzy Endive has improved and worth buying now, its also a lot cheaper than the French or Spanish. We’ve stuck to buying the French Leeks over the English as they’re both good but the French are better value. Peruvian Asparagus is very tight and is not particularly the best and prices are high. Heritage Tomatoes & English Broccoli are dearer this week too. For something a little different there is some lovely produce coming from Italy – White & Pale Aubergines, Cima de Rappa and Courgettes Flowers. We’re hoping by the end of next week we may get the first of the New Crop Agria Potatoes and that they will cook well? The Wild Mushroom selection is still poor and putting the cultivated varieties aside there only seems to be Chanterelle & Girrolle available

Spanish Water Melons are now arriving en masse so prices are getting better. European Apples are coming to an end and we’ll move over to southern hemisphere fruit shortly, hence prices have risen. English Cherries are excellent, they’re only available for a short while and as we don’t grow them in huge volumes they never really get that cheap. Limes have joined the rest of the Citrus and have jumped up in price. All varieties, shapes and flesh colour of Peaches & Nectarines are available and they all eat very well. As anticipated, Strawberries have gone up in price, hopefully it will be short lived? Although there are some English Blackberries available, none seem to match the quality of the Dutch at the moment.

 

Fruit & Vegetable Market Report – 23rd June 2017

Fruit & Vegetable Market Report –  23rd June 2017

The recent mini heatwave is not all good news for English growers in particular Broccoli and Strawberry growers as when the temperature gets too hot the plants shut down to conserve energy and this cuts their ability to crop well. So we may see a hike in prices over the next couple of weeks? That said the quality at the moment is great. We now have English Runner Beans available. English Savoy/Hispi/ Primo are all good quality too. Red Romero Peppers from the Lea valley are very good and show how our farmers are getting very versatile and innovative in trying to expand on their portfolio of products, which can only be good in the long term with the uncertainty of what will happen post Brexit. English Carrots are now new season so the flavour and quality is much better. All the English Lettuces are stunning and there are some Red Little Gem around too. There seems to be a surplus of Mid Potatoes around at present so before we get onto the English new crop we have some stunning ones arriving from Israel next week that are good price too. Also with last years main crop still in stock and the early cropping of this years crop we envisage that Jacket Potatoes will not hike in price next month as per previous years. Avocado’s & Heirloom Tomatoes are getting tighter due to supply and demand so expect prices to creep up. For those who have asked, Lemon Balm & Lemon Verbena is readily available most days.

In times gone by we had to wait for English Blueberries to come from Devon a little later in the season, but even though Blueberries only grow on certain soils we’re seeing much more of them grown now and as a consequence there are some delightful ones from Wye Valley around. Citrus Fruits are getting very costly, Lemons have been dear for a while now and look to stay that way for a while and Oranges have joined them now. Easy Peelers are also very short and continue to remain expensive. Best stone fruits at the moment are Apricots, Peaches (flat or round), Nectarines & Cherries. Plums are still a bit of a problem, but we have a dark skin variety called ‘Early King’ that eat well albeit a slightly tough skin and come from Portugal. Pink Lady Apples are ridiculously expensive so we’re sending out ‘Kanzi’ instead, their very similar but much better value. All Spanish Melons are getting more plentiful by the day and there will be some good prices next month.

Fruit & Vegetable Market Report – 16th June 2017

Fruit & Vegetable Market Report –  16th June 2017

We’re likely to get the hottest weekend of the year so far and it has to be the best time to enjoy the best of our British fruits and there’s none better than English Strawberries. They are just fantastic at the moment and loving the sun as much as we are. English Raspberries are eating very well too and all this sunshine will bring on the English Blackberries & Gooseberries  too as there’s only been a few available to date. There’s quite a selection of Cherries available from all over Europe, prices are very reasonable and there’s some white varieties too. Plums & Satsumas are still not the greatest, but Peaches, Nectarines & Apricots are all good. Spanish Water, Galia, Honeydew & Canteloups Melons are increasing in volume and prices are easing.

Jersey Mids & Ware Potatoes are probably as cheap as their going to get and their earthy taste is lovely just washed and boiled. Early New Crop Scraping Potatoes are also very good, it will be some time before we get main crop to replace the old crop. We’ve now switched to French Carrots while we wait until the English new crop start again. The Tender Stem Broccoli from Oakley Farms in Cambridgeshire is stonkingly great. English Savoy is starting to make an appearance but until they are bigger, we’ll stick to the Portuguese. Still no Iron Bark Pumpkins so any ordered are being replaced with Crown Prince. The Wild Mushroom selection is still sparse with Girolles & Chanterelles as the main choice. All the English Lettuces are tip top so too are the English Artichokes. We’re still waiting for the English Runner Beans to start but there are some English Marrows arrived. Aubergines have gone up in price as availability have eased up.

Fruit & Vegetable Market Report – 9th June 2017

Fruit & Vegetable Market Report –  9th June 2017

The English Broccoli season is upon us now and this superb vegetable is not only enjoyed cooked but also Raw, when eaten this way it is a great source vitamin C and vitamin K. Raw broccoli contains moderate amounts of several B vitamins and the dietary mineral ‘Manganese’. Broccoli also has a low content of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and dietary fibre. English Summer Cauliflower are the main crop at the moment, they do tend to be smaller than usual but are reasonably priced. We’re still having to buy Portuguese Savoy Cabbage due to no English available, but we have some lovely English Hispi and Spring Greens. Onions are generally good overall but the Egyptian Red Onion is good value at present. Dutch Aubergines & Peppers have jumped in price and this is being blamed on poor weather on the continent. Tomatoes & Courgettes remain the same though. French Jerusalem Artichokes are expensive as there is very little English available. They are smaller than the French but the English Globe ‘Chokes’ are much better value than the French. We’re still hanging in there with UK Carrots (currently Scottish) but we could switch at any time to the dearer French/Spanish if the quality drops. English Asparagus is all but over and we will be predominately buying Mexican/Peruvian Asparagus from now on.

Potatoes are the annual gripe of most Chefs this time of year. It’s often overlooked that the usual Old Crop Potatoes used for frying/mashing & roasting are up to TEN MONTHS OLD! So don’t be surprised that they cook differently. They may have been kept in cold storage but during that time all the starch is slowly turning into sugar in anticipation of producing shoots in the spring, hence they burn much quicker and do not remain crispy. So until late July/early August they will be hit and miss and there will be a premium to pay for the best ones.

We’re having a short term problem with Melons at present, particularly Water & Honeydew Melons that are both in short supply and expensive. We’ve been dutifully informed that the problem should be fine later next week and we may even have a glut shortly afterwards! There are Cherries about but not many that are great quality, so the prices haven’t eased as we’d of expected by now. The same can be said for Peaches & Nectarines too. Blueberries are quite plentiful so prices are good, so too are English Strawberries. Redcurrants remain dear, so please avoid. South African Forelle Pears are good at the moment and are our pear of choice at the moment. Pink Lady Apples are very expensive and not worth their current price.

Fruit & Vegetable Market Report – 2nd June 2017

Fruit & Vegetable Market Report –  2nd June 2017

This week and next is probably the best weeks for picking Elderberry flowers. The flowers are sweet, honey-scented clusters of white that when used fresh, make deliciously sweet cordials and liqueur – the famous and globally known of which is probably St Germain’s, it is available in most good supermarkets and is great added to some Fizz to have with your BBQ.
According to the company’s website, the picked flowers are bicycled to a collection depot (yep, bicycled) where they are immediately macerated to preserve the fresh flavours of the bloom. Extracting the flavours of this flower is not an easy process, and the Saint Germain company keeps theirs a family secret.

We are getting sporadic supplies of Elder flowers now so give us a call to order yours if you’ve no time to pick your own.

 

June is such a plentiful month for English Produce and none better than the Baby Vegetables that are coming through from various farms in the Home Counties, there is some great Baby Heritage varieties too. English Jerusalem Artichokes have re-started, all the English Lettuces are great, so too is Spring Greens, Baby Bok Choi, Broad Beans, Celery, Peas, Baby Spinach & Rocket. Spanish Broccoli is ending so we’ll probably switch to English this week. Courgettes still remain a good buy and English Cauliflowers will be cheaper next week. English Cornish Washed Mids are great so if you don’t mind paying a little more then these are a must. Spanish Tenderstem Broccoli is great but not the cheapest. Lemon Balm & Lemon Verbena are now available.

Our Norfolk Asparagus grower informs us the he intends to stop cutting around the 15th of this month and this is in line with most other growers, this is a little earlier than normal due to the season starting earlier. The reason they can be so precise is that they know they can only cut for about 6-8 weeks, after that the plant has to mature into ferns so as to put energy back into the ‘Crowns’ for next years crop. Quite unexpectedly Iron Bark Pumpkins have become non-existent so are not available at the moment. The Wild Mushroom selection is still poor but the Girolles are quite good.

All the berries – Blueberries, Raspberries & Strawberries are reasonable at the moment (except Redcurrants).  Spanish Plums are slowly getting more plentiful, they look great but are still very ‘tart’. Lemons & Grapefruits remain dear and Limes are creeping up too. We’re in a little lull regarding Spanish Honeydew & Water Melons, supplies are very short as we finish from the north and await the start of the south so prices have jumped up this week. There are some great Cherries around arriving from all over Europe so we expect the prices to tumble soon. The expected glut of Peaches & Nectarines has not happened yet so prices are much the same. Apricots are still great and totally recommended.