The first new season Spanish Cherries have now arrived in the market, but to be honest, these early examples weren’t that impressive either in terms of looks or flavour. The ones pictured were typical of those which were available at the time of writing and, although vibrant, were quite small, with a good proportion sporting scarred and pitted skins. Their texture was hard and they possessed more sourness than sweetness, which, together with their current high price, all-in-all leads us to the conclusion that it’s perhaps wise not to offer them for sale just yet.
The European Melon season is now officially underway with the recent arrival in the market of both Spanish Watermelon and Spanish Cantaloupe Melon. It’s therefore only a matter of perhaps another couple of weeks before we start to make the switch from our current South American crops, which we’ll be continuing to use in the meantime whilst the influx of Spanish ones achieve adequate volumes.
With only a few dribs and drabs now available in the market, it appears that Spanish Sanguina/Blood Oranges might just about be on their last legs and likely not be around for too much longer. But, as I’ve said previously, age is not only not a barrier, but a veritable advantage when it comes to blood oranges, so these late season examples should be more flavoursome than ever.
On my last visit to the market a couple of days’ ago I encountered some rather lovey Italian-grown Land Cress (aka Bank Cress, American Cress, Upland Cress, Creasy Cress) (Photo right). It’s flavour and texture is very similar to watercress, but grows in a non-aquatic environment, which means it can be propagated at home (hence, yet another of its various names being Garden CressIt’s flavour and texture is very similar to watercress, but grows in a non-aquatic environment, which means it can be propagated at home (hence, yet another of its various names being d celery, making both the stalks and leaves better suited to all types of cooking, including soups and stews, boiling, braising and even frying and roasting. Despite its ability to be put to the same uses as watercress – as well as being able to cook it in very much the same manner as baby spinach, it is nevertheless often unfairly dismissed as merely an adequate substitute for watercress. I, however, prefer to regard it as a good, honest product that can and should be valued and utilised for its own sake.
The German Leaf Celery I encountered on my last visit to the market a couple of days ago was, I think, among the most attractive of its kind I’d ever seen, being cleaner, slenderer and more vibrant compared to most of its counterparts. Leaf Celery is an offshoot of the celeriac root and is much hardier and more intense in terms of flavour than normal salad celery, making both the stalks and leaves better suited to all types of cooking, including soups and stews, boiling, braising and even frying and roasting.
Another rather fetching German import worth a brief mention is/are medium-sized Red Bunched Beetroot, which comprised about 5 good-sized bulbs attached to long, slender and intensely vibrant red stalks and surmounted by lush, verdant, red-veined leaves.
A customer recently asked me when the English Wild Garlic (Ramsons) season is due to end. The fact is that it’s a bit hard to judge, because, you see, Wild Garlic thrives best where the soil in which it grows is damp – usually in deciduous woodlands which shade it from direct sunlight and prevent the soil from drying-out. If the conditions are suitable, therefore, many claim that the season can last into July. However, other sources, including the Woodland Trust, reckon that June is probably more realistic. Whichever is the case, you should still be looking at least another 3 weeks or so in which to make good use of this wonderful native plant.
English Asparagus continues to thrive and there is now quite an abundance of both the Purple and White variants, as well as the more common Green variety, all of which are available in 250g bunches.