The Total Produce July Market Report
British Asparagus may be over but July is the month when there is a plethora of produce to grace your menus both from the UK and beyond. Local and global, we’re spoilt for choice.
Sadly the British asparagus season is at an end and this marks the end of the European season as well.
The only asparagus available for the next six months or so will be flown in from the southern hemisphere, mostly Peru.
British asparagus growers have to stop cutting so that the spears can grow on into fern, absorb all that late summer sunshine and store it in the roots to fuel next year’s growth.
It’s a terrific time for British berries even if the cooler spring meant a rather late start this year. There’s plenty of strawberries and raspberries and the first of the homegrown blueberries are coming through. Our friends at Wye Valley may have finished harvesting their asparagus but they’ve moved onto their blueberry crop which is every bit as good as their excellent asparagus.
There’s a fair few green gooseberries around (mostly of the rather sharp cooking kind) and we expect to see some of the red dessert varieties later this month. By the end of July we hope to see home-grown red and blackcurrants, all depends on the weather.
Stone fruit from Spain, Italy and France is absolutely flooding in. Although volumes are down on last season, that pesky spring weather again, there’s still plenty of sensibly priced stone fruit of very decent quality. There’s yellow and white fleshed peaches, nectarines and plums. Some very decent apricots from Spain and even better apricots from France. Perhaps favourite of all are the flat or donut peaches that have really taken off in the past few years, glorious flavour and abundant juice, funny to think that ten years ago we’d never heard of them. There’s plenty of cherries from mainland Europe and the first British cherries are just hitting the markets.
July is peak new potato time. There’s really good quality, keenly priced new spuds being dug right across the UK. Check with your supplier to see what’s local to you.
It’s a rather tricky time for main crop potatoes which were harvested last autumn and have been in store ever since. Supplies, as you can imagine, are running low and prices are rising, particularly for jacket potatoes or bakers.
We should see the first of the new season main crop potatoes by the middle of the month, usually the Accord variety, but it’ll be at least a couple of months before there are reliable supplies in any quantity. If possible stick with new spuds till then.
There’s plenty of very decent vegetables to help you through the tragic loss of home-grown asparagus.
The first European sweetcorn from Spain, French will follow soon and the first British cobs should be along sometime in August.
A few very early British courgettes are already around and there should be plenty more by the end of the month.
So good to welcome back one of the very finest of our home-grown vegetables, the glorious runner bean. Surely they have a place on your menu this month?
There’s still plenty of peas and broad beans from growers right across the UK although this is probably their last full month.
Broccoli and summer cauliflowers from British growers have been around since last months but there’s currently a bit of blip.
The early varieties which are usually covered with horticultural fleece have come to an end and the outdoor later varieties aren’t quite ready. Normally the two would happily overlap but the outdoor varieties are rather late, their growth slowed by the unusually cool spring.
This should all sort itself by the middle of the month when hopefully things will be back to normal and there’ll be a goodly supply of fine, sensibly priced British cauliflowers and broccoli.
The European citrus season is coming to a close and we’re switching to supplies from the Southern hemisphere. Particularly fine are the excellent Gold Cup brand satsumas from Peru that we get from our good friends at Pacific Produce. Full of juice, terrific flavour.
Also from Pacific Produce are the Monty Brand Peruvian sweet potatoes. Unlike most other sweet potatoes these are fresh rather than dry cured with heat which makes a big difference to the flavour. If you’re one of the growing band of sweet potato enthusiasts then you really do need to give these a go.
Look out for some really top notch bunched veg coming in from UK growers during July. There’s regular orange carrots as well as some very lovely mixed variety bunches. What we often call heritage carrots although they’re mainly modern varieties, and none the worse for that. There’s a cracking range of bunched beetroots as well, regular maroon, golden, white and candy stripe or Chioggia.