This week has summed up how changeable the UK climate can be, which can make growing, forecasting, availability, demand and even pricing difficult. This time last year BBQs and outdoor dining were aplenty, as the World Cup was about to start and temperatures were around 25 degrees! Today is around 12 degrees and the rain has been relentless this week. It is easy to forget when it is raining that we are still feeling the knock-on effects from the very dry, hot 2018 summer as many crops suffered including Jackets, Carrots and Onions. However, there is enough UK grown produce around now to get excited about.
Wimbledon is only a fortnight away and UK Strawberries are now in full swing from Kent and other Home Counties. British Raspberries have also started in smaller numbers, with Blueberries and Cherries likely to follow in early July. Cherries are very susceptible to heavy rainfall, so these will be subject to the weather.
The English Asparagus season officially comes to a conclusion shortly, but this will probably trickle into the first week of July.
Now is a good time to buy Jersey Royals, as they still have good flavour and the prices should fall considerably.
Both UK Fresh Peas [LEFT] and Broad Beans are also now coming through from Worcestershire.
Elderflower [above] is available in small quantities initially (before the berries appear later in the Summer).
Although there are major issues currently with British Red/White Cabbages (basically very few around and far too small), the Hispee Cabbage from Kent and the Cavolonero from Lancashire are both very good. The Bunched Purple Artichokes [above] are extremely good quality from Cambridgeshire.
Royal Ascot starts next week, so don’t forget the Blue Borage flowers [above]! (White also available).
Also, from the UK: Cornish New Potatoes, Outdoor Rhubarb (until July), Baby Bunched Vegetables, Cos Lettuce, Rocket, Little Gem, Iceberg, Lollo Rossa, Lollo Biondi, Broccoli, Spinach, Baby Spinach, Watercress, Celery, Baby Mixed Leaves, Rainbow Chard, Savoy Cabbage, Baby Red Chard, Spring Onions, Baby Turnips, Baby Beetroot, Celeriac, Red Kale, Ornamental Kale, Green Kale, Jackets, Maris Piper, King Edwards, Purple Asparagus, Crown Prince Squash, Cauliflowers, Mint Tips, Chocolate Mint and British Heritage Tomatoes also still going strong.
Before the UK season starts, there are some really good Cherries coming through with the Rainier Cherries [left] from France, which are a premium variety. The normal red Spanish Red Cherries [bottom] are also very good quality and much more affordable at this time of year than when they come from further afield.
The volume and quality of Peaches and Nectarines is improving every week, as are the Flat Peaches [all above] Flat Nectarines have also just started, albeit on the small side currently, although we expect the size to improve shortly. Apricots, large or small, have been extremely good quality (from Spain).
For something a bit different, these Strasberries [right] and Pineberries [far right] have very sweet flavours. The strasberry is basically a cross between a strawberry and a raspberry. The Pineberry is a type of strawberry with a sweet pineapple flavour. Although new to many, lots of these types of white strawberries have been around for hundreds of years. Please check on price before ordering and best to pre-order in advance.
Virtually all Apples are imported, some travelling further than others. Gala Apples will be French, which will be the closest grown to the UK. Pears are also non-UK grown currently with Conference from Belgium, Forelle from South America or William from Italy.
On the veg front, there are some vibrant looking Borlotti Beans from Italy. Also, from Italy, Stripy Aubergines, green Marinda Tomatoes [below], White Courgettes, Courgette Flowers, Ornamental Cauliflowers (purple & orange) and Baby Yellow Watermelons.
From France, some highlights include Romanesco, Yellow Beans, Wet Garlic, Gariguettes, Roscoff Onions and Purple Grelot Onions.
On the wild mushroom front, whilst Chanterelles have been tricky to get hold of, Girolles and Morels have been fairly consistent. Cepes are only available sliced, so possibly worth avoiding. Mousseron, and St. George from Eastern Europe. Please check availability before ordering.