Total Produce September Market Report – What Should be on Your Menu this Month
Plenty of UK corncobs and they should be around till the end of the month.
The first of the UK winter brassicas are coming in. Look out for Savoy cabbage, cavolo nero and red and green kale.
Squashes and pumpkins are crossing The Channel, mostly from Italy and France. There’s been a few early squashes from UK growers and we should see more and more as the month moves on.
Plenty of good grapes from Spain and Italy. There’s French Muscat and Italian Strawberry grapes if you’re looking for something a bit more exotic.
Runner beans are finishing fast.
Strawberries and raspberries are still reasonably plentiful but blueberries and blackberries are really where it’s at berry-wise.
The first of this season’s figs are coming in from Turkey. Prices are already beginning to ease and no doubt they will soon be their usual excellent value. The season runs from now until early November, after that it’s airfreight only. These are second crop black figs with the rather rich, red, jammy centres that have ripened in the summer sun (remember that?). A very different beast from the paler, milder first crop figs that we see in late spring and summer. No doubt you’re familiar with all the oft repeated fig facts (the special wasp, internal flower, oldest plant on the planet etc. etc.) so instead we recommend DH Lawrence’s poem Figs. Google it, it’s a proper startler.
The British apple season has started. First off the block are Discovery and Bramleys, next are usually Worcester Pearmains, then Coxes and Russets. Discovery are a fine apple with an excellent, aromatic, almost floral flavour but they don’t keep as well as later varieties. Order little and often.
A few very early English Conference pears are arriving in the markets, mostly from Kent. These are a little on the firm side and will probably be in better shape towards the end of the month.
Our man in Rungis has spotted the first of this year’s Provence quinces. They’re not really ready yet, still pale green rather than a rich yellow, give them a couple of weeks or so and let the Mediterranean sun work its magic.
September marks the start of the cobnut season. Cobnuts are a variety of hazelnut that are eaten green or fresh rather than dried like most nuts. They have milky sweet flesh with, say some, a hint coconut. They are very good toasted and used in salads or to make a crust for game or in spice mixes like dukkah. At St John they serve them by the bowlful accompanied by no more than a pair of nutcrackers. They are a versatile ingredient that will really help your menu stand out.
The first wet or green walnuts have arrived from South West France.
The European stone fruit season is on the final furlong and its time to take peaches, nectarines and apricots off your menu. Instead there’s plenty of really excellent home-grown stone fruit that is at its best this month.
British Plums, including the ever popular Victoria, are in fine fettle. A wide range of regional varieties will be in the markets this month so check with your local depot to see what they have. The splendid Marjorie Seedling, a particularly fine flavoured plum, should be with us by the middle of September.
Damsons are in now and their wonderfully rich flavour works equally well in sweet or savoury dishes. A natural partner for game like so much of this month’s produce.
We’re seeing more greengages from British growers, a very good thing, but they’re still not widely grown in this country. If you can’t find home-grown greengages in your region then you should still be able to get hold of greengages, or Reine Claude, from France.
There’s new season parsnips, turnips and swedes from growers across the UK. Alongside these there’s plenty of regular, golden and candy-stripe (Chioggia) beetroots, both bunched and loose. Then there’s home-grown celeriac, a delicious and sometimes overlooked veg. All of these are decent value and will help your GP sparkle.
The first Jerusalem artichokes are arriving from growers in France, a little slim at the moment but they’ll soon fatten up. Alongside these are French Parsley and Chervil roots, both delicious but worth mentioning that Chervil root are rather dear, do check the price with your local depot before committing to menu.
Another favourite that’s just getting underway are the larger, loose ‘Heritage’ carrots from France in a rather exciting range of colours, deep purple, white and yellow. There’s also a purple variety with an orange core sometimes called Afghani carrots. They’ve really taken off in the past couple of years. Not surprising, they do look stunning on a plate.