What’s Hot this Season with Fruit & Veg Expert Charlie Hicks of Total Produce
Seasonality might be a bit of a buzz word at the moment. But it’s one food trend that we can really get on board with. After all, it’s only logical that the ingredients that are in season are the ones that are going to taste the best, and give you the best value for money.
We spoke to Total Produce’s resident fruit and veg expert, Charlie Hicks, about what to be looking out for right now. This is what he had to say in his market report for June 2015:
Asparagus is just fantastic right now and it will be in full flow until Midsummer’s Day – which is June 23. When you are choosing your asparagus you want to be looking for plump, firm stems. How you store it is also very important, probably more important than any other veg, because as soon as you pick it the sugars start turning into carbs.
To keep the spears as fresh as possible then treat them like cut flowers. Chop off the ends and put them in water. If you are storing your asparagus in the fridge then wrap it. Fridges are very dehydrating so it will store much better if you sprinkle it with water and wrap it.
The season is very important with asparagus. The spears that are left become the plants next year. You can harvest asparagus longer, but then you won’t get such a good harvest next year.
Jersey is an island so there is limited space and the growers are under a lot of pressure from the supermarkets to produce more and more. Like so many things, when the volume goes up the quality goes down. Look out for local new potatoes.
The other important thing to remember is that despite what a lot of supermarkets seem to think, a new potato is not just a small potato.
A new potato has the skin that you can push off. Just because it’s small it ain’t necessarily a new potato!
We have got some terrific English tomatoes. There’ll be plenty of regular, red and round salad tomatoes as well as a whole host of other varieties with an amazingly diverse range of colour, shape, size and favour. These are sometimes called Heritage or Heirloom tomatoes but Exotic or simply Mixed may be more accurate as most of them will be modern varieties.
When you’re choosing your tomatoes, use your nose. If it smells great then it will taste great too. Pick it up and smell it – it’s as simple as that!
We are about to get into the stone fruit season (peaches, cherries, plums etc). We are getting some quite decent stuff through from Spain but the best comes from southern France.
With stone fruit it’s very tempting to just leap aboard as soon they come into season, but these fruits desperately need sun and the early fruit isn’t as good, and will be more expensive. Wait a bit because the later varieties are better.
Gooseberries will be coming into season soon too as well.
They are usually removed by growers, but they are really delicious with a mild garlic flavour. They are only around for about six weeks though.
We are beginning to see the first of the European melons. It’s early days but they are definitely on the horizon.
Apples and pears at this time of year are all going to be coming from the southern hemisphere because all the European stuff has come to an end.
People might be concerned about the environmental impact from anything that comes from far away but it comes by boat so you can eat it with a clear conscience.
But when there’s so much fruit closer to home there isn’t any need to get it from further away.
Wet garlic is the garlic that has just been harvested. It has got a softer skin and an amazing, sweet, hugely aromatic flavour.
In February and March it comes from Egypt but we have just moved into the time of year when it is the best quality and coming from France and Italy.