April is one of the highlights of the UK produce calendar, with a couple of ‘big hitters’ available. The English Asparagus season officially starts on St. George’s Day (23rd April), but it is available now, albeit in lower volumes and higher prices – both of which should improve come the 23rd. The “last cut” day is 21st June, so the season usually ends on mid-Summer’s Day, so it should be cherished whilst available. It not only has great flavour, but is packed full of nutrition and can help protect the liver against toxins. British Asparagus has incredible growth rate and can grow up to 10cm in one day! Our asparagus usually comes from Norfolk, Hampshire and Wye Valley. There are different sizes available, for which the measurement is taken from the bottom of the spear: -
“EXTRA SELECT”: 16-18mm,
Another highlight is Jersey Royals, which should be in full swing this month. They are renowned for their distinctive nutty flavour These have protected origin and use the islands micro-climate and tidal flows to create a unique tasting potato. They are grown on steep slopes, known as ‘côtils’, close to the shore and use seaweed (‘vraic’) from the beaches as natural fertilizer. As if this were not enough to tick many ‘environment’ boxes, they are also almost entirely harvested by hand, because of the steep gradient of the côtils.
Jersey Royals are usually available in three different
sizes – Ware (larger), Mid’s (small/new potato size) and Chats (very
small). The season generally runs from March through
We are now into the outdoor Rhubarb season, from Kent, which tends to be more red/green in colour, rather than the pink forced indoor varieties.
Also, from the UK – Leeks, Cauliflowers, Savoy Cabbage, Spinach (large), Parsley Root, Jerusalem Artichokes, Baby Turnips, Carrots, Swede, Chantenay Carrots, Rainbow Chard,
Purple Sprouting Broccoli, White Sprouting
Kale, Spring Greens, Desiree/Chippers Choice/Agria/King Edward Potatoes, New Potatoes, Celeriac & Micro-Herbs. Also, from our friends at Nurtured in Norfolk are various Selection Wheels available for cresses, edible flowers and this Sea Vegetables mix. Each wheel has a mix of 7 different varieties of the best in season. This wheel [above] includes Sea Beet, Salty Fingers, Oyster Leaf, Sea Aster & Salicornia, all of which are available individually also.
These beautiful mixed Bunched Heritage Carrots [left] are coming in from France, along with these equally vibrant Rainbow
Radish. Also arriving from France are Gariguette Strawberries[below] ,which are small, sweet, bright and very aromatic berries from the south.
French origin also are Baby Carrots and Mixed Colours Baby Carrots (bunched). Until the UK season starts, salad leaves including, Lollo Rossa, Lollo Biondi, Curly Endive &Oakleaf will all be French.
UK Apples are virtually finished, so we have to use imported ones from Europe and South Africa, including Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Pink Lady, Braeburn & Gala. With regard to pears, Conference Pears are from Belgium, with both William and Cheeky/Forelle varieties coming from South Africa.
Yellow Plums were good quality from S. Africa, but they finished very quickly, so we are waiting on news of the next arrivals. Red Plums continue to be ‘Angelina’ variety. These ‘Hayden’ variety Mangoes [above] from Brazil are superb eating quality.
Also just started are the much sought after Alphonso
Mangoes [below] from India, which have a very
sweet flavour with no fibres.
Wild Mushrooms may be a little shorter this month, as the origins begin to switch between South Africa and Eastern Europe, so worth checking availability first on items such as Girolles, Morels, Chanterelles & Cepes.