If you hadn’t noticed already the summer has already come and gone and the fact that it has been one of the dullest and wettest since records began should not leave us in a state of depression as there is some wonderful fresh produce out there to cheer us up.
It used to be around the time of the September full moon that I would go wild mushroom picking with my father in the New Forest. Our mushroom of choice was the cep (or porcini to the Italians) and I have to say that they used to be of much better quality than what is reaching us at the market presently. On the other hand we do have some wonderfully clean chantarelles, girolles and pied du moutons, which are all good value.
Why not order a box of mixed loose, wild mushrooms rather than the packet ones we have for a change? The quality of the runner beans is still quite good and fears that the price of broccoli and cauliflowers would increase have proved unfounded. Our Englishsweetcorn grown in Essex are still tremendously cheap and sweet.
Just arrived are the first of the new season of golden and candy beetroot, which we just love, although they prove a lot less clean on the hands than the red varieties. Also worth trying are the early season washed red and white potatoes in 10 kg bags – they are great boiled and covered with lashings of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
Recent price rises in tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers seem to have eased although aubergines remain very expensive. As an alternative to the bland Dutch greenhouse type, try the beautifully flavoured Italian pale round variety that are currently in stock.
With the heavy recent rainfalls the quality of some salads (other than watercress, which is at its best now) have been of concern. We are being very careful about where we are sourcing t especially the curly endive.
When it comes to fruit this month we need look no further than the humble apple. The early English varieties that we had been selling (discovery, worcester etc) are now making way for the more robust coxes (to be followed later by braeburns and royal gala), which will improve as the month goes on. Locally-grown conference pears are now also available. We really should make a point of buying British whist they are around; there are no better apples and pears than our own.
Nectarines, peaches and plums from the sunnier climes of Italy are still great tasting and excellent value, whereas apricots and cherries are now finished. Figs from Turkey represent the best value of all currently so indulge.
Berry prices have crept up a bit with the exception being blackberries, which are still very reasonable. Strawberries are not holding up as long at the moment due to the elsanta variety having a high water content.
Just a quick reminder too that fresh cobnuts and damsons are available but you have to be quick as the season is very short. That’s it for this month. I’m off to the New Forest to see if I can remember where my father found those mushrooms…