Elder Flowers are great right now (on a dry day that is!). The flowers appear from the end of May/beginning of June. The cream coloured flower heads are honey scented blossoms that are crisp and somewhat juicy with an aromatic scent and flavour. The most common use is to make an Elderberry cordial, but there are many uses – they can be put into salads, added to fruit fools, tempura battered or simply added to sugar are all but a few of its uses.
English Strawberries are much better, English Raspberries & Currants are slowly picking up in volume too. Spanish Galia melon represent the best value as Canteloupe, Honeydew & Water Melon are still at a premium. South African Forelle Pears remain the best eating Pear. Peruvian Satsumas peel and eat very well, hopefully they’ll be around for a while. English Gooseberries are available and Dutch Black & White Currants are too. Peaches, Nectarines & Apricots are at their best right now. Cherries from across the continent are very good and the best fruits are at a premium.
The French New Season Carrots are so much better and worth the extra pennies. Large Onions will remain expensive for the medium term but Red Onions have eased in price. As usual for this time of year supplies of English Summer Cauliflower get tight and prices can vary and unfortunately the size is generally smaller too! Portuguese Tender Stem Broccoli, Savoy & Hispi Cabbage is very good.
Monks beard has finished, Nettles are sporadic so need to be pre-ordered and Blue Meat & Watermelon Radish have both finished. English Broccoli is up this week. French Celeriac is really expensive so we moved over to Dutch for the moment. English Broad Beans & Peas in Pods are very good, no Runners yet though. English Asparagus remains very popular still and we still have a week or two to go.
May is always a good month with lots of UK & European produce coming into season. Unfortunately they all start at a premium until volumes increase.
However some Spanish Fruits like Blueberries & Blackberries are reasonable, plus Peaches & Nectarines have come down and there are some lovely Flat Peaches available too. Also from Spain are some good sized Apricots that eat well too. We buy English Strawberries where possible but they are still a bit hit and miss so Belgium have to fill the gap sometimes. Redcurrants remain very expensive.Italian Cantaloupe Melons eat well and the Spanish Watermelons are better now. The choice of Pears is limited so we’re going to give the Argentinian Packham Pears a go as there is quality issues in the Conference Pear. There’s an assortment of European Cherries available but price reflects quality. Peruvian Satsumas are the Easy Peeler choice at present.
Onions are in VERY short supply and there is no cheap alternative. We’re having to buy Chilean Onions that are expensive but are very good. Leeks too are very expensive. As we approach the end of English Main Crop Carrots we move onto Continental Carrots, quality improves but prices will rise. English Asparagus is now in full swing and our ‘Portwood’ marque is very good. There is also English White & Purple Asparagus available too. Hispi, Tenderstem Broccoli & Savoy Cabbage is all Portuguese at the moment as quality is better. All Lettuces with the exception of Curly Endive are English now. Italian Broad Beans & Peas in the Pod are very good, English will start soon. Mange-Toute & Sugar Snap are dearer this week.
Fruit & Vegetable Market Report – 19th March 2019
Supposedly only ten days to go until Brexit and no-ones the wiser on how it is going to impact prices and supplies yet so forecasting prices for the following month is more wishful thinking than anything else? So we’ll just have to get on as best we can…….
In the meantime we have seen Kenyan Fine Beans fall back in price now that there is more coming through. Brussels Sprouts/Tops are completely finished now, Spanish & Red Onions are good but both still relatively expensive. Wild Garlic & Young Nettles are readily available now and so too are Jersey Royal Potatoes grown under cover hence the dear prices. Yellow Courgettes are at a much more acceptable price now and Green Courgettes have eased too. English Cauliflower are a good size and cheaper this week, English Purple/White Sprouting Broccoli is excellent too. Italian Fennel & Flat parsley have eased and there is some good Italian Black Cabbage available as the English has come to an end. The first of the Italian Peas in Pod & Broad Beans lovely and very tasty. The English Asparagus has started as early as ever but prices are really expensive as these are two months earlier than the main crop.
Cucumbers are quite reasonable as there are plenty around and they’re bringing the English crop on early. Peppers are still pricey, especially the Green, Beef Tomatoes are expensive at present to. English Heritage Tomatoes have started to trickle onto the market.
English Forced Yorkshire Rhubarb has come to an end now. Bananas continue to creep up in price, so too are good quality grapes. Spanish Strawberries remain good value, but other Berries are not so cheap. We’ve moved onto Nardicotts but they are dearer then the Clems were. English Cox’s Apples are finished but we still have English Gala Apples that are eating well. No Peaches, Nectarines or Apricots available or that are edible.
Fruit & Vegetable Market Report – 15th January 2019
It may be cold here but nowhere near as cold as parts of the continent. Italy had some heavy snow and this impacted on the price of Italian produce, Fennell, Spinach,Bunched Rocket & Flat Parsley jumped in price but some are starting to ease now. There’s plenty of Brassicas to choose from that are reasonably priced: Savoy, January King & Primo Cabbage, Portuguese Hispi, Brussells Sprout and Curly Kale. On the subject of Kale, we have some lovely Kale Flower Sprouts (Kallettes) that just need a little sauteing off a charming accompaniment to many a dish. English Jerusalem ‘Chokes’ are still great.
UK Onions, like Potatoes continue to be a problem from last years hot summer, Large onions remain dear and trying to find a good quality Red Onion remain challenging and you have to pay a hefty premium to get good ones. Good English Mid Potatoes are hard to find hence the increase in price. Spanish Broccoli is dearer but Aubergines & Courgettes remain VERY expensive and that’s not going to change in the short term. Dill, Mint & Coriander are all tighter in supply but we’re confident of continuous supply. Parsnips have come back down in price but Cauliflower may go up later in the week as supplies tighten.
All the Lettuces are on the higher end of prices, Tomatoes & Cucumbers are all on the increase too. Cherry Tomatoes remain reasonable. Unusually, we have some great English Celeriac form ‘Bucks Farm’ in Spalding, Lincs. This versatile product is an underrated vegetable/Salad and should be used more.
This is the time of year for Seville ‘Marmalade’ Oranges so start jarring yours up now! Also Blood Oranges are available but only for a month or so. Another seasonal fruit for January is English Forced Rhubarb from the ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ in West Yorkshire. They Grow it in the dark in warm conditions and the result is long pink tender stems that are less tart than their outdoor cousins. Apricots, Peaches & Nectarines from South Africa still available but not that cheap. Pineapple are reasonable but all Melons are quite dear as they are all coming from the Southern Hemisphere. Clementines are the choice for easy peelers as the Nardicots are a lot dearer. Moroccan Strawberries are ending and we may see a jump in price as we move over to Spanish.
Fruit & Vegetable Market Report – 7th December 2018
Unusually we can’t blame Brexit on any price hikes yet, apart from maybe the exchange rate? So as usual, weather is the blame for most produce hikes in prices. Consequently, the dry summer this year has left us with a shortage of good sized quality Potatoes for the next eight months so factor that in your menu costings. The quality of English Primo & Savoy Cabbage from Lincolnshire is very good, the Cauliflowers are a good size too but are creeping up in price. Portuguese Hispi Cabbages are also good. Brussels Sprouts are available in purple as well as green and the Prepped Brussels are now available too. Parsnips in 10kg nets are good value but not as good quality as the 5kg boxed ones. Aubergines are very expensive at the moment. Spinach is extortionate and in very short supply so avoid or buy Frozen. With their lovely nutty flavour, English Jerusalem Artichokes like the ones we have from D & J Hayward in Wiltshire are underrated as they are a bit fiddly to prepare but are a wonderful product most of the year round. Baby leeks, whether in punnets or loose are a big problem with availability at present. If you are requiring any Prepped Produce you need to get your order in EARLY or you may not get it as demand is off the scale this time of year.
All the Salad Lettuces from the continent are reasonably priced and no shortages in sight. Tomatoes are on the increase with Beef Tomatoes & Cherry Plum Vine Tomatoes quite dear and no sign of getting cheaper. Peppers are at about their seasonally normal price but the next few weeks can always be unpredictable.
Satsumas would normally be our Easy Peeler of choice this time of year but there is quality issues with them so we’re buying the Spanish Clemantines, they’re reasonably priced and eat well, The ones that come ‘on the leaf’ are an even better quality but come at a premium. Good Mangoes are a problem and the only ones worth buying are the Air freighted ones but they are quite expensive. Cantaloupe Melons are quite dear but are a good size. Persian Limes are good and have a deep green colour. Fresh Jumbo Cranberries in 200g punnets or regular size in 340g bags are available. Vac-Pac French Peeled Chestnuts or Chinese Chestnuts in their shell are also available. The Black Peruvian Figs look and eat great but are a bit pricey.
Fruit & Vegetable Market Report – 9th November 2018
Some say ‘There is only two times of the year: Autumn and waiting for Autumn’. Its the time of year where comfort food starts coming into its own, and none better than some lovely Squashes that are around to cook in all different manners, so too are Fresh Chestnuts, Cranberries and good ol’ Brussels Sprouts & Sprout Tops, to name but a few. Lincolnshire Cauliflower is a good size at the moment, English Savoy, Primo & Hispi Cabbages are all at they’re best. The English Globe Artichokes from Maldon in Essex are exquisite. Green Courgettes are expensive at present and the Yellow Courgettes are extortionate so to is Red Chicory, so best avoided. Dutch Celeriac is a good size and better value than the French for now. English Broccoli is coming to an end shortly and we’ll move onto the Spanish. English Leeks are good but a bit pricey right now.
All the English Salads are ending or have ended, we’re on Spanish Rocket, Pousse & Mixed Baby Leaf and the English Lollo Rosso & Oakleaf will end this week and swop to Spanish. Tomatoes, Cucumber & Peppers are all reasonable for the time of year.
Crosnes are available now, also known as Chinese Artichokes or Chorogi, they look like micro-mini Michelin men. Named because it was first cultivated in France near Crosne, the home town of Monsieur Pailleux of Crosnes, the individual credited for being the first to take the vegetable to Europe. Crosnes have a crunchy texture and earthy flavour, similar to a Jerusalem artichokes in taste.
New Season Spanish Lemons are very good and a bit easier in price, Limes a getting dearer though. No Apricots around but there is some Southern Hemisphere Peaches & Nectarines but too hard at this early stage to buy. The Strawberry price see-saws from week to week and this week their pretty expensive, Blackberries are too. Black Figs are good but are quite expensive. Spanish leafy Clementines are very good, for some thing cheaper, we have the Spanish ‘Okitsu’ Satsumas that are a bit paler in colour but they eat very well. The choice of Pears is still limited and Conference Pears are about the best. Pineapples look to ease in price as there’s plenty around.
Fruit & Vegetable Market Report – 6th October 2018
October 1st was the start of the Pheasant Shooting season, the last of all the game birds to start so we have all the seasonal delights to accompany them. Fresh Chestnuts, Cranberries & Redcurrants to name but a few. As expected for this time of year there is a good selection of Wild Mushrooms. There is a great selection of Pumpkins & Squashes: Onion, Turban, Iron Bark, Kabocha, Acorn, Baby Pumpkins etc. are around right now and are a must for your menu. Brussells Sprouts, Tops & Brussell Stalks are all available. English Green & Purple Curly Kale, Black Cabbage & Purple Sprouting Broccoli are great quality right now. English Broccoli & Cauliflowers are still on the pricier side. Green Courgettes are starting to creep up now but the Yellow Courgettes are twice the price of their green cousins. We’re still on English Salads & Lettuces but they will be ending around the middle of the month when we will then swap over to Spanish. Tomato Prices are starting to ease but prices are still quite high.
Nadorcotts are finishing and we’ll be moving over to Satsumas shortly. The best Chestnuts available are the French but are twice the price of the usual Chinese ones that are readily available this time of year. Dutch Indoor Rhubarb is now available but is very expensive. The English Strawberries have all but finished now and we’re now on the Dutch Strawberries so hopefully prices will ease. English Conference Pears have also started, so too have English Russet, Cox, Gala & Windsor Apples. Flat Peaches & Apricots have ended and although available, we don’t recommend the regular Peaches & Nectarines as the quality is sub standard. Cantaloupe Melons are in short supply so prices are quite high and Water Melons are getting tight too.
Fruit & Vegetable Market Report – 6th September 2018
Needless to say the hot weather has affected a broad spectrum of produce. The latest casualty is Mushrooms, Button, Cup, Oyster & Chestnut are all very, very short. The hot weather overheated many mushroom beds to over 40 degrees and killed all the mushroom spores so there’s another week to go before normal quantities resume.
Good size Cauliflowers remain expensive, Leeks are too. Courgettes, Broccoli and Spanish Parsnips have eased slightly. New varieties of Squashes & Pumpkins are arriving daily. The arrival of Brussels Sprouts means the festive season is never far away. Corn-on-Cob is still a good buy. Carrots look like they’re going to be dear all season and with a much smaller yield in the Potato crop this year, prices will be much dearer than last. Most salads are quite expensive and no sign of easing just yet. The Cucumbers have eased in price but are still relatively dear. Peppers are very expensive and Yellow Peppers are all but non existent, so the arrival of the Spanish pepper season couldn’t happen soon enough. All Tomatoes remain expensive. As we’re still on English Lettuces the prices are still fair. English Purple Sprouting is good but not cheap. Tri-Colour Chantenay Carrots & Piccolo Parsnips are available again and look and taste great.
Wet Walnuts & English Cobnuts are available. Figs are a good price while there’s a brief glut of Turkish available. Strawberries have been very expensive of late but are looking to ease in price. Belgium Conference Pears are about the best eating Pear at the moment, Apples are still expensive but as we await the start of the new season hopefully prices will ease soon. There are some new season English Apples started like ‘Discovery’ & ‘Early Windsor’ but not in any great quantity. Good Easy Peelers are a problem and the only one we’re happy with is a Nadorcott but its not the cheapest. We are on English Plums at the moment and the variety is ‘Marjorie’ and they eat well. Victoria Plums are available but they do have a short shelf life. Lemons are dear but Mexican Limes are very reasonable and are a good colour.
Fruit & Vegetable Market Report – 20th July 2018
Its been a good year for Cherries and although their up in price this week the quality is still excellent. English Strawberries & Blackberries are very good and a little easier in price, Spanish Peaches, Nectarines & Apricots are at their best right now and are reasonably priced. Apples are no easier still and command high prices for good fruit. Medium Oranges are very expensive and Lemons remain dear. The Portuguese Plums ‘Red Hiromi’ are very tasty and recommended. French Cobnuts have just started so the English will follow in a few weeks time. Italian Canteloupe Melons have a good sugar level so are really good in flavour and value right now. Seedless Spanish Water Melons are also selling well this week as the quality and price is very good.
Italian Rocket arriving is not the best and we’ve had to return it on a couple of occasions so we’ve been buying more English to cover this. We had some great English Fine Beans from Wye Valley in this week and hopefully they will continue to grow these. Dutch Celeriac has been poor quality of late so we’ve moved onto buying the large French heads instead. Avocado’s are a little easier this week and the price of Salad Leaves & Lettuces has levelled off. French New Season Turnips are good, firm and sweet. Jersey Royals have all but finished but there are some very good English Mids around. We’re scraping the barrel with the Old Crop Potatoes now but until the New Season Potatoes form a skin we are still using them for Jacket Potatoes. The young English Runner Beans are very good, so too are the Broad Beans & Peas too. Peruvian Asparagus remains expensive but Broccoli & Cauliflower has eased over the last week.