Bunched Baby Beet, Mouli & Snake Fruit

The Spanish Bunched Baby Beetroot I encountered in the market a mere few days ago were all but engulfed by the veritable profusion of lush-green, vividly red-veined foliage succulent, deep-red stalks to which they were attached. I’m no chef, but it got me thinking that if the cooking times for the roots, stalks and leaves were similar to each other, then perhaps they could be cooked together at the same time – with the greenery still connected, I mean. If so, I’d hazard that it would make for a really eye-catching presentation.

It’s fair to say that the Cavalo Nero (Black Cabbage) that’s been on offer of late has been a bit ropey. A drab, ghostly shadow of what one should expect when at its peak. That may soon be about to change with the recent arrival of new season Italian imports. I say “may” be about to change not because it isn’t dazzling in all respects, but because, having only just arrived, volumes are still rather low and prices very high, which means that it may not be made available for sale just yet.

Collard Greens are a broad-leafed, cabbage-like brassica that possess an earthy, slightly bitter flavour which has been likened to that of Kale. Sometimes sold in the UK as a variety of Spring Green, both the leaves and stems are edible and can usually be cooked simultaneously - so long as the stems are tender enough. They’re very much of a staple in the USA (especially the Southern states), as well as regions as diverse as Brazil, Portugal, Zimbabwe and Kashmir. There are some beautiful examples to be had in the market at present, which are UK-grown and highly recommended.

Bunched Mouli (Daikon) are no different from the more common single examples in terms of its behaviour or flavour, but does differ from them insofar as they’re of similar dimensions to those of medium-to-large carrots. This not only makes them an ideal as a quite interesting counter display, but also affords them the ability to be cut into manageable-sized rondelles, sliced lengthways and sautéed or julienned and stir-fried, or even halved or quartered and roasted. The thing is, they’re all over the market at present, which makes me wonder if this might be the start of a new trend. We shall see. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that each bunch weighs roughly 1 kilo and comprises around 4 pieces.

It doesn’t make an appearance in the market very often, which is why I always like to make a point of mentioning it when it does. I’m not anticipating they’ll be a huge (or even modest) demand for it, but I think it’s of sufficient interest to make it worthy of a few sentences, at the very least. I’m speaking of Snake Fruit. Native to Java and Sumatra, Snake Fruit is the informal epithet most commonly given to the Salak, and derives from the fact that its dark brown skin possess a scaly, serpent-like appearance and feel. It is similar in size and shape to that of a fig, and beneath the easily removable, slightly leathery skin you’ll find a creamy-white fruit in 3 segments which look a bit like garlic cloves, with each segment containing a hard, inedible brown seed. The texture of the flesh is crisp and crunchy and its flavour, which is sweet yet acidic, has been likened to that of pineapple combined with the slight astringency associated with raw chestnut. Snake fruit is called the Fruit of Memory in Indonesia due to its levels of potassium and pectin. It also contains nutrients like thiamine, iron and calcium, as well as high levels of vitamin C. Its most common uses include pie fillings, jams and preserves; it can also be candied, pickled or made into syrup.

Wild Mushrooms available at the time of writing consist of Chanterelle, Morelles and Pied De Mouton.

Fruit of the Week

Conference Pears

Market Alert

  • Ongoing Alert: As predicted, the price of both Ginger and Garlic has risen (more than trebled, in fact) as a result of the disruption to Chinese exports caused by the spread of the Coronavirus. Production has come to a standstill in most areas. Furthermore, the motoring and technology sectors are now feeling the effects of the lack of production, too. If production is allowed to commence once more - in another month, let’s say, it will still take a further month beyond that until produce will start to arrive in the UK.

  • Ongoing Alert: Poor weather conditions in certain growing regions of Spain, Italy and Morocco are continuing to have an impact on the availability and/or quality of much of the produce we rely on at this time of year. These include Aubergines, Broccoli, Courgettes, Cucumbers, Capsicums, Medium Salad Tomatoes, Baby Leaves, Cos, Iceberg, Gem Lettuces, plus some Citrus Fruits.

  • Ongoing Alert: English Potato crops are continuing to suffer the affects brought about by water-logged fields and reduced harvesting as a consequence of record-breaking levels of rainfall over the last couple of months.

  • Ongoing Alert: The market price of Bramley Apples remains high.

  • Ongoing Alert: Curly Kale remains very scarce at present, with growers continuing to limit the capacities of what they’re prepared to supply us. Moreover, by the time April arrives there may be nothing coming through at all.

  • Ongoing Alert: Spanish Lemons remain scruffy looking and a bit scarred, but the fruit inside should still be good.

  • Ongoing Alert: The quality and availability of both Peaches and Nectarines remains unpredictable.

  • Ongoing Alert: The availability of White Grapes remains tight and their quality variable.

  • Ongoing Alert: Colder weather in the UK has meant that Bananas are taking longer to ripen once they arrive here.

  • Ongoing Alert: Plum Tomatoes and Plum Vine Tomatoes are still experiencing market shortages at present.

  • Ongoing Alert: Onions are still in short supply, of variable quality and expensive.

  • Ongoing Alert: Celery is still tight at present.

  • Ongoing Alert: Orange Cauliflower is still scarce.