Total Produce October Market Report – What’s in Season this Month
It’s Halloween and, inevitably, our thought turn to pumpkins and all the other squashes coming in from across the UK. There’s good news on the citrus front and multi-coloured kales and Chantenay. Then there’s the Evil Dancing Pixie, will he curse your restaurant?
The first of the home-grown squashes are arriving in the markets. A later start than usual this year because of the rotten late summer weather. Squash growing in the UK seem’s to have really taken off in the past few years and more and more varieties are being grown. A fantastic range of shapes, sizes, colours, flavours and textures should all be available from your local depot.
With Halloween at the end of the month we’re pleased to report that the pumpkin crop should be ready in plenty of time for the 31st although, like other squashes, the season is running a bit behind. Always a good idea to order your pumpkins in advance as demand can be fierce the closer we get to the end of the month. Please do give your supplier some idea of the kind of size you’re after as there’s a tremendous range, all the way from football to small car.
There’s a seismic upheaval in the world of citrus this month, but in a good way. The southern hemisphere season is drawing rapidly to a close and the first of the new season citrus from European growers (mostly Spain) is just beginning to arrive. This means better value, better prices and a wider range right of top notch citrus right through the winter months. We’ve already had a few early satsumas and the first oranges will be with us any day now. The season’s shaping up reasonably well and although we’re told that large oranges might be a bit thin on the ground there’ll still be plenty of medium and small sized fruit. Keep a look out for a couple of new varieties of easy peelers. Apparently they have a defiantly rustic appearance but fabulous flavour, bang on trend with all this hoo-ha about ugly fruit ‘n’ veg.
This is the last month of the Turkish fig season, they usually finish up during the first couple of weeks of November. Prices have risen a tad but they are still superb value and are in absolutely tip-top nick so don’t miss out. Once the Turkish fig season is over it’s airfreight only with an inevitable leap in price.
This is the month when British apples really come into their own. We’ll see more and more main crop varieties like Coxes and Russets as the early season varieties, like Discovery, come to an end. The early apple varieties tend to be crisp and juicy but have a rather one note flavour and a very short shelf life. Coxes, Russets and other main crop varieties, like Braeburn and Gala which will be along in November, have more complex flavours and keep much better. Some say the Russet’s flavour actually improves with storage. Then there’s the Bramley, the classic British cooker, there’s plenty of those and they’re in fine condition.
There’s a quite remarkable range of kales around this month, all of them grown in the UK. There’s regular green of course, then there’s red or Russian kale and some very good cavolo nero or Tuscan kale. Increasingly popular are the visually stunning variegated varieties as pictured. There’s even a baby leaf salad version grown in The Fens by G’s. And to think that a few years back kale was mostly grown for animal fodder. Now it’s so trendy there’s even a bit a of a backlash. Odd to accuse a brassica of selling out but there you go, foodie fashions, eh? Other brassicas are available including that perennial favourite, the Savoy.
There’s some rather exciting exotica from growers in southern Europe that can help liven things up in pastry. Spanish Osteen mangoes, the only mango variety grown in Europe, have about a month to go. Don’t be put off by their rather unattractive skin colour, a sort of muddy purpley green. Cut inside and you’ll find bright orange flesh that has a superb flavour and is virtually fibre free. The first persimmons or Kaki from Spain and Italy will be with us by the end of the month as will prickly pears and custard apples.
There’s an abundance of roots this month, both home-grown and from across The Channel. They’re generally very sensibly priced and all in very good shape. There’s parsnips, swedes, celeriac, turnips and various beetroots from growers across the UK. Then there’s orange, purple and white Chantenay carrots that are mostly grown in Nottinghamshire and have the most wonderful flavour. French growers are sending us Jerusalem artichokes and parsley root or Hamburg parsley as it’s sometimes known. There’s also chervil root from France but do check the price, it can be surprisingly expensive for a root. We may even get a few early crosnes or Japanese artichokes which, like Chervil root, is dearer than average root. Finally a mention for salsify which is mostly grown in Belgium these days. A wonderful but sadly underused root, do give it a go, it deserves more attention.
For more information about Total Produce, and to get in touch with your nearest depot please check out our website: www.totalproduce.com