It’s a rare occurrence indeed that Cabbage is prominently featured in successive editions of this illustrious publication (you may remember that last week it was Chinese Leaf), but the arrival of new season English Primo Cabbage warrants just such an event. Primo is what’s known as a “dome” or “ball-headed” variety. It’s a large summer crop cabbage which at first glance comes close to resembling Savoy with regards to its size, shape and structure, but is less crinkly and not as dark. It possesses instead smooth, pale green leaves that are crisp, succulent and tightly-packed. This makes for a high-yielding cabbage, and furthermore making it easier for it to be sliced or shredded and cooked very much like white cabbage, and likewise be used raw in salads and slaws. All that’s left to say is that its English, just in season and available to order.
Cornish Mids have now become our standard mid-sized potato, and wonderful they are, too. Let me try to explain why. Their skins are smooth and tender, and their flesh have a slightly crumbly, chest-nutty bite to them, which makes them suitable for roasting. Their flavour, too, is reminiscent of sweet chestnut and provides a beautifully balanced counterpoint to the skin’s mild earthiness. Ten minutes boiling time from a cold start is sufficient to achieve a good al dente texture whilst ensuring even, thorough cooking. And if you’re so inclined as to cut them in half and toss a few in a frying pan or wok to give ‘em a bit of a sauté, you’ll find they brown-off and develop a good degree of crispness well before becoming dry or bitter. Lovely.
On June 21, 2019, in the UK, the Summer Solstice will occur. Apart from this being the longest day of the year (by which is meant the day which contains the most amount of daylight), and the date which is widely regarded in many cultures as that which heralds the start of summer proper, what makes this date in any other respect significant? Well, it heralds the official end of the British Asparagus season. And by “official”, what would be more accurate would be to say the “symbolic” end to the British Asparagus Season, because, you see, it would be an absurd assumption to make that after this date its quality will go into sudden decline, or become impossible to source. It does however serve to give notice that its time is henceforth limited and unlikely to be around for too much longer. I urge all of you therefore to do you patriotic duty (irrespective from whence you originally hail) and to make as much use of it as you are able to in the meantime.
One of our buyers brought some English Choggia (Candy-Stripe) and Golden Beetroot from the warehouse into the office the other day to show the order-takers just how good looking they both were. I must admit to being no less impressed than they were, which is saying something when one considers just how long I’ve been doing this sort of thing. Approximately the size of a cricket ball (or perhaps maybe a tad or two larger), their colouring was vivid and well distributed – which was especially noticeable (as one might expect) with the Choggia, whose alternate strawberry-coloured and icy-white rings provided those gathered round them with a wondrous experience that almost verged on the psychedelic, man.
I’ve been reliably informed (which, in the fruit ‘n’ veg game is a term that should be greeted only with great caution until you’ve actually spoken to you sales rep or order-taker and been given the figures) that the arrival of Turkish Cherries should be accompanied by significantly cheaper prices compared to what you might have been paying previously. We shall see.
What isn’t in doubt is that the prices of Spanish Peaches, Nectarines and Apricots have come down quite drastically in recent weeks, and should consequently be much further within the reach of most of our customers in terms of affordability.
Fruit of the Week
White Flesh Nectarine
Size inconsistency of Red Delicious and Granny Smith Apples remains an issue due to the influx from so many different sources (by which I mean their various countries of origin). This doesn’t so much relate to variations in size within the same consignment originating from the same source, but is more a case of inconsistency between the various consignments. Plums, too, are also currently experiencing similar problems regarding variations in grading and sizing. At the time of writing, they’re not much bigger than oversized cherries.
We are now using Spanish Parsnips in preference to home grown crops, which are frankly not as good as the imports.
UK Swede is due to finish soon, so availability will be tight until the arrival of new season crops in late July.
A switch from end of season home grown to new season imported Carrots is likely soon, which will mean that prices will rise.
Ongoing Alert: The deterioration in the quality of White Washed Ware Potatoes remains an issue as reserves held in storage since last autumn continue to deplete.
Old season English, Dutch and Belgian Leeks have now finished and a move to new season French and Spanish is on the cards, but only once prices have stabilised.
Finding Seedless Grapes of consistently good quality remains a challenge for our buyers.
Ongoing Alert: Savoy Cabbage remains almost entirely unavailable. Summer Crop Savoy have arrived in season, but their quality isn’t great at present.
Ongoing Alert: Purple Sprouting Broccoli is still off-sale and is likely to remain so for at least another 2-3 weeks until new season UK crops start to arrive.
Ongoing Alert: Red Onions are continuing to experience shortages, as well as higher prices as a consequence.
Red Chillies remain very, very expensive.
The market price of both Red Cabbage and White Cabbage remains high.
The availability of both Pink/Ruby and Yellow/White Grapefruit is still very tight and prices remain high as a consequence.
Current crops of Verna Lemons have proved somewhat disappointing in terms of skin finish and overall quality. However, our suppliers have made assurances that they will soon start to improve.