During the recent snowy and cold spell, it was tricky enough just getting to and from work, let alone harvesting produce and delivering, so items like Wild Garlic [left] were in very short supply. Now the weather has improved, we should see plenty of UK grown to replace the imported leaves. It is also known as Bear Garlic, Jack-by-Hedge and Ramsoms. It is usually sweeter and has a subtler flavour than normal garlic. Often blanched in a similar way to spinach and can be used in salads, soups, fresh pesto and is a good accompaniment to seafood dishes.
The last of the British Cauliflowers were hit hard by the weather and they will now be French or Spanish. It will be a similar story with UK Savoy Cabbages which are likely to be replaced with imported ones shortly. Although Spring Greens were also affected by the weather, we expect new season cabbages to be available immediately, albeit slightly thinner to start with.
The Bunched Beetroot [right] from Evesham however, is in very good shape and British Jerusalem Artichokes are still going strong, along with Parsnips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Red Kale, Green Kale, Turnips, Carrots, Celeriac, Onions, Red Onions, Banana Shallots, Jacket Potatoes, Desiree Potatoes, Maris Piper, Chippers Choice, New Potatoes (Mids), Red Cabbage, White Cabbage and Forced Rhubarb. There is a chance that the first English Asparagus and Jersey Royals may appear before the end of the month, but usually cost prohibitive.
The final batches of Brussels Sprouts will last another week or so and UK Apples are just about finished, so we will be forced to use imported apples until late Summer/Autumn now.
There is some very good quality produce arriving from Europe, especially these French Raf Bleu Tomatoes [right] These are large tomatoes and usually non-uniform in shape, but are very fragrant and taste slightly salty. (Please check price & availability before ordering).
Romanesco are currently from Spain, as are Broad Beans, Cauliflowers, Bunched Carrots, Pak Choi, Cos Lettuce, Little Gem, Cherry Tomatoes, Artichokes, Peppers, Courgettes, Aubergines, Cucumbers, Strawberries, Blueberries and Raspberries.
From Italy, fantastic Punterella, Cime di Rapa (Rapini/Turnip Tops) Trevise [[below left] Tardivo (Wild Trevise) [centre] and the beautiful and delicate Castelfranco [right].
Also coming in from Italy (and France) are these vibrant Grelot Onions below, both white and red. These are sweet and crisp and more bulbous than spring onions. They can be eaten raw or once cooked they retain their sweet flavour.
Again arriving from Italy is Rainbow Chard, Swiss Chard, Delicata Squash & Amalfi (Leafy) Lemons. Towards the end of the month/early April should see Blood Oranges finishing, but at around the same time, the first of the Italian Fresh Peas and Broad Beans should arrive.
On the fruit side, there should be more choices on both colours of Grape from South Africa, Chile and now, Peru. Red Plums should see an improvement in flavor as the Laetitia variety is now available plus there are more Yellow Plums around.
Moroccan Nadorcotts (satsumas) are superb flavourwise, very juicy and easy to peel. There are also Queen Mandarins available but these are a little more expensive and not so simple to peel.
Conference Pears (Belgian) remain the most consistent flavour and quality-wise, as the Williams Pears coming in from South Africa are still on the firm side, but should improve.
Now that the UK grown ones are all but over, many of the apples are from France, including Gala, Braeburn, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious.
The South African Baby Black Figs [above] have been hugely popular, packed in 160g punnets with around 7 figs inside. First come first served!
Melons from Costa Rica have just started including Cantaloupe and Honeydew, with Galia and Watermelons to follow.
With regard to Wild Mushrooms, Chanterelles remain the most consistent in terms of supply. Good sized Morels have been arriving from China, although pricey. Trompette has been fairly poor quality. Girolles and Cepes have been extremely short, if available at all and likely to be expensive until availability becomes more plentiful.