Discovery apples - first of the English season - arrived a few weeks early. Opal and Victoria plums were just as swift.
In fact most fruit is a few steps ahead. English cherries are nearly over. Turkish black figs? Here already - currently airfreight, with bulk supplies coming soon.
It’s been hot and dry across much of Southern Europe. The UK recorded its highest June temperatures since 1976. All this has repercussion for growers, caterers and chefs, who need to plan accordingly.
Greengages are a homegrown highlight right now, pictured here with a backdrop of some of the last English cherries. (Read our recent Product Profile of cherries here).
Soft fruit is abundant. Cob nuts will arrive any moment. (French alternatives are available now).
It’s also a glorious time for the full gamut of British veg. Expect to pay reasonable prices on the vast majority. The first English sweetcorn is on hand, and prices will drop week by week through August.
Cauliflowers, leeks, courgettes, patty pans, marrows and carrots, for example, are a steal right now.
English tomatoes, chard, cucumbers and salads are on top form, too. Peas, bobby beans and broad beans are all abundant.
Other brassicas include purple sprouting, Savoy, red and white cabbage and these pointy numbers at P & I.
From Southern Europe, the stone fruit season will continue for another five weeks or so. These blush apricots from The French Garden are a classy choice.
Other options are plums and flat peaches and nectarines. There are some blush peaches about, too. The bulk of this stone fruit is coming from Spain.
Melons are also in their prime, including water melons, Charentais, Cantaline and these smooth-skinned melons from Italy.
On the fig front, here’s a selection - Spanish, Brazilian and Turkish, all in a row. French and Italian black figs are also excellent.
Pricey but delicious are French Muscat grapes - nothing beats their complex flavour.
Fresh almonds are another high-end import from our friends across the Channel.
Other Continental specialties include rose and smoked garlic, tomatoes, coloured cauliflowers, watercress, aubergines, artichokes, celeriac, red-heart radish, purple beans, mooli, and the first Muscade squashes.
Check out this wonderful Italian onion. Anyone know what variety this whopper is?
From further afield, there are clementines arriving from South Africa, excellent mangoes and spikey lychees from Israel.
August is a low time for wild mushrooms. There are a few Cesar around, along with sporadic Cep and Girolle. This picture from The Mushroom Man is of a culivated Yellow Oyster, I believe. (To find out more about mushroom growing, seeing our Grower Profile of Smithy Mushrooms).
See you in September. As always, drop me a line with any comments or queries.