Total Produce September Market Report

September is the first truly autumnal month produce wise. British plums and cobnuts, Turkish figs, home-grown squashes and apples and a goodly selection of new season roots. The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness for sure, that Keats knew a thing or two.

This is the first full month of the Turkish fig season, one of the great joys of early Autumn. The season usually finishes round about mid November so that’s at least two months of utter figgy fabulousness to look forward to. There’s two very good reasons for using Turkish figs, quality is consistently good and they are quite remarkable value. A key ingredient for all September menus.

No doubt you’re familiar with all the oft repeated fig facts (the special wasp, internal flower, oldest plant on the planet etc.) so instead we recommend DH Lawrence’s poem Figs. Google it, it’s a proper startler.

September is the month for British sweetcorn, there’s cobs coming in from growers right across the UK. There’s been a quite extraordinary growth in sweetcorn sales in the past few years, it seems we just can’t get enough of it. This isn’t that surprisingly really, home-grown sweetcorn is a delicious and versatile vegetable that offers that magical combination of quality and value.

The European stone fruit season is on the final furlong and it’s time to think about taking peaches, apricots and nectarines off your menu. Fortunately there’s plenty of excellent home-grown stone fruit to fill that gap. British Plums, including the ever popular Victoria, are in fine fettle. There’s a wide range of regional varieties in the markets this month so check with your local depot to see what they have.

Damsons have started 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 area then you should still be able to get hold of greengages, or Reine Claude, from France.

We’re in the middle of the British broccoli season but prices remain stubbornly high and supplies are pretty thin on the ground. Two main factors at play here. Firstly there’s been an explosion in the Diamond Back Moth population, probably the worst of all broccoli pests. There were almost biblical sightings of a two mile long moth cloud in Herefordshire back in June. Then there’s the price, broccoli prices have been so low for the past couple of years that a lot of growers have abandoned it. Not much point growing something that doesn’t earn you a living.

Lemons have been very dear for a while now, southern hemisphere growers have had a pretty poor season. But prices are beginning to fall in anticipation of the Spanish crop that starts later this month and runs till late spring. Once Spanish citrus really kicks in lemon prices will drop quite radically. Time to start thinking about getting that lemon tart back on.

Apples-Discovery-UK-05The 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. Little and often is the way forward.

From the UK there’s new season parsnips, turnips, celeriac and swedes. Alongside these there’s plenty of regular, golden and candy-stripe (Chioggia) beetroots, both bunched and loose. Then there’s Chantenay carrots, orange for the moment with white and purple varieties later this month. All of these are decent value and will help keep your GP in trim
From across The Channel there’s the first Jerusalem artichokes from France, a little slim at the moment but they’ll soon fatten up. Alongside these are salsify, multi coloured ‘Heritage’ carrots and French Parsley and Chervil roots. Worth mentioning that Chervil root are rather dear, always best to check the price before you order.

September sees the return of a national seasonal treasure, the cobnut. Cobnuts are a variety of hazelnut that are used fresh, not kiln dried. They have glorious almost milky texture and flavour (some say a hint of coconut) and are even more delicious after a brief roasting. Cobnuts are a very versatile ingredient, they work well in both sweet and savoury dishes and that’s probably why they’re cropping up on more and more menus.