December is of course, mid-summer for the southern hemisphere. The long days bring forth a wonderful variety of summer fruit - all travelling far and wide, but usually arriving in good shape. We are expecting Grapes, Raspberries, Blackberries and Cherries from various parts of South America.
Piccolo Parsnips are now in the market. They are small, sweet, and tender baby Parsnips. They are from the same grower as the Chantenay Carrots, just top them and cook whole. Another great item they produce is the Tri Colour Chantenay Carrots which are not only beautiful but have great flavour too! Both are a great product for your Christmas menus!!
Curly Kale, Cabbages and Courgettes are all good options. Savoy Cabbage should retain its quality and Red and White Cabbage are a good choice for cooked dishes and winter salads.
Italian Fennel stays good through most of the winter. It is particularly welcome at a time when vegetable variety is somewhat limited.
Celeriac is always a good choice during early winter and the home-produced crop is the best bet in December.
Leeks are also worth a quick shout out, as they are always nice this time of year.
We should still have a good supply of English Large Leaf Spinach as long as we don’t have too many continuous frosts. Failing this, Cyprus Spinach is usually something special too.
Now in stock are Roscoff Onions. (Although Roscoff DOP status means you can’t call them that unless they are grown in Roscoff, France). They are a lovely pink sweet onion, perfect for purées, pickles, roasting, etc…
Starchy vegetables are great for winter energy, Sweet Potatoes and Salsify offer an exciting alternative to potatoes. English Jerusalem Artichokes are a must too. They are at their crunchiest in December, have plenty of nutty taste and are usually good value.
If you are looking for an alternative Potato you could try the delicious French Ratte Potato. Also available and of great quality are Pink Fir Apple, Rose Vale Mids, and Black/Purple Potatoes.
Fresh Herbs are not a problem in the winter. Prices tend to stay the same as do their quality. Micro Herbs are something that can also help lift your plates of roasted root veg by garnishing with Micro Celery, Micro Thyme, or even Micro Ruby Mustard Frills.
This year we are going to again be delivering Christmas Trees grown in Boxted, Essex. We can get 2 varieties, both the Norway Spruce and Nordmann Fir will add a nice touch to your dining rooms, not to mention the smell of pine is about as Christmassy as it gets!
Celery is at its best. Most English Salads will be long-gone. Italian Cos and Radicchio, Spanish Iceberg and French Watercress will be the order of the day. Rocket becomes more expensive as they must be grown in heated and artificially-lit greenhouses, even in Provence!
Wild Mushroom supplies can be very good in December but bad weather can cause severe shortages. Varieties likely to be available for pre order are Pied de Moutons, Pied Bleu, Trompettes and Chanterelles. While Girolles are plentiful this time of year, they are very large and there will be no small sizes about.
Leafy Clementine’s & Satsuma’s will be in good supply and are rarely anything but delicious and beautiful.
We will of course be stocking 5 kg boxes of Trimmed Brussel Sprouts (available by the kilo too) ready to go in the pot. Don’t forget about Sprout Tops and Sprout Stalks as well.
Sweet, juicy Lychees have a short season. They are usually wonderful just before Christmas.
Cranberries are also at their best in either fresh or frozen.
Spanish Citrus Fruit is at its very best in December and we may see the return of Blood Oranges. Sometimes they don't appear until the New Year, so just pencil them in for a few specials.
The Cape of South Africa should deliver us ripe Plums, Apricots, Grapes, and Baby Vegetables. They won’t be as tasty as the summer versions but are still a decent alternative to wintery root veg.
And last but not least, at the height of their quality are all the root veg; Parsnips, Carrots, Swede, Turnips, Beetroot and Horseradish.