I briefly mentioned last time the arrival of Chilean Flat Peaches, but, due to the rather limited quota on view, I was doubtful as to whether their presence was a mere flash in the pan or the precursor to greater things to come. Well, I’m pleased to announce that on my last visit to the market a mere few days ago, their numbers had increased significantly. I was preparing myself for the task of trawling through all my old Reports (going as far back as 2009) to see if there was any precedent for Flat Peaches (aka, Directors’ Peaches, Donut Peaches, Saturn Peaches or Paraguayos) arriving in the market this early in the year, and, more specifically, if there was any particular reference at all to Chilean Flat Peaches. The answer to both these questions was yes – and it shows how bad my memory is, because I only needed to go back as far as this time last year. Nevertheless, they remain something of an unknown quantity, especially as the ones I tried were a bit firm and a bit bland – but that’s only to be expected this early on, I suppose, irrespective of their origin. I think it’s therefore wise to wait at least another week or so to see how well they fair in the slightly longer term.
South African regular Peaches and Nectarines are becoming less abundant, and what there are available are markedly declining in quality as each week passes. Furthermore, a couple of trays of South African Apricots popped-up from apparently nowhere during my last market visit – but these were a definite no-no and will most likely not make it to another week.
Yellow Plums are back in season after a hiatus of several weeks. They’re South African and go by the name of Sun Kiss (a not unfamiliar variety), and possesses a fairly grainy, non-clinging flesh - which basically means the flesh isn’t fibrous and doesn’t cling to the stone, so can therefore be easily separated from it. It’s flavour can best be described overall as being “mild and gentle”, which is to say, mildly sweet and gently citrusy. In other words, they won’t knock your socks off, but they’re nevertheless pleasant enough and will at least provide you with an extra option for your fruit bowls and displays.
Spanish Leaf Clementines, despite their greater abundance in recent weeks, remain a bit pricey - but taste lovely and look great, it must be said. Spanish Leaf Lemons look truly vibrant under the lights of the Market Hall, and their fresh, citrusy aroma literally infuses the air that immediately surrounds them.
Curly Kale is still doing well and continuing to sell by the shed-load. Less utilised, but perhaps even more impressive to behold, Red Curly Kale is also in peak condition - and if you normally avoid such extravagances due to the extra cost, I’d advise merely that ask your order-taker for a price comparison (you might just come away being pleasantly surprised). At the time of writing, both Purple Sprouting and Tenderstem Broccoli continue to be a stable presence in the market. English Rainbow Chard, which isn’t a fan of the colder weather, appears to have finished and been replaced by imports from both Spain and Italy. What I’ve seen of each so far has been quite promising, but their stalks aren’t as thick and their leaves not as broad as the home-grown variety – which, depending on your requirements, may not necessarily be a disadvantage.
Both South African Runner Beans and Moroccan Flat Beans (pictured) are firm, crisp, succulent and mostly unblemished. As you may recall me mentioning in the past, Flat Beans (also known variously as Helda or Romano Beans) have a smooth, silky texture and are string-less, which means they only need to be topped and tailed and cut to your required size before they’re ready for cooking.
Fruit of the Week
Poor Weather Alert & Its Likely Affect On Produce - Poor weather conditions in certain growing regions of both Spain and Morocco is expected to have an impact , for one reason or another, on the quality and availability of much of the produce we rely on at this time of year. Produce that could be affected include Aubergines, Broccoli, Courgettes, Cucumbers, Capsicums, Medium Salad Tomatoes, Cos, Iceberg and Gem Lettuces, as well as various types of Citrus Fruits.
Furthermore, record-breaking levels of rainfall in the Potato growing regions of the UK has meant that farmers have been unable to harvest their crops because their fields have been rendered inaccessible due to flooding. Consequently, the longer the potatoes stay in the ground means that not only are fewer potatoes making it to market, but also that those which remain un-harvested become more susceptible to damage and disease.
At the time of writing, the availability of Pineapples is a bit tight in the market, which is said to be due to the late arrival of a container vessel destined for the UK.
The colder weather in the UK has meant that Bananas are taking longer to ripen once they arrive here. Our buyers have therefore re-scheduled deliveries into our warehouse to allow more time for them to ripen before being sent out to our customers.
Ongoing Alert: Spanish Leaf Clementines has increased since last week, but they nevertheless remain less than abundant and continue to be expensive as a consequence.
Ongoing Alert: Plum Tomatoes and Plum Vine Tomatoes are still experiencing market shortages at present.
Ongoing Alert: As has been mentioned over the last couple of weeks, the availability of Portuguese Hispi Cabbage is a bit tight, but what there is available is very good. English Spring Greens are also still in short supply.
Ongoing Alert: English Rainbow Chard seems definitely to have finished and been replaced by Italian and Spanish imports.
Ongoing Alert: Onions are continuing to prove somewhat difficult at present, and are consequently in short supply and expensive as a result.
Ongoing Alert: A rise in the popularity of European Apples and Pears in the Middle East has ultimately resulted in shortages at home. This won’t mean they’ll become unobtainable, but it will mean they’ll be less surplus and therefore higher prices across the board.