December sees the main season Spanish brassicas, salad leaves and tomatoes coming through. Broccoli and cauliflower will increase after the recent UK flush until we solely rely on the Spanish and French supply.
We also see a massive uptake in parsnips, carrots, potatoes, sprouts for all the Christmas meals, which hopefully we will be able to share with the larger family this year. Prices should remain steady as all are in good supply.
It is also worth mentioning a few other seasonal items such as fresh cranberries, chestnuts and the January king cabbage are also available.
Steamed sprout tops are growing ever more popular for various recipes, like bacon and onion. Local growers will be able to supply upon request, prices will be reasonable and average for the time of year.
We will be moving into the South African stone fruit season where we may see varieties like the beautiful red flesh ‘Black Pearl Plum’. This variety has tripled in export due to its popularity. We will also see new season peach, nectarine, and apricot for a short spell. Prices will typically be higher for the Northern Hemisphere fruit, air freight will start high in price until the ship containers arrive.
December also marks the start of a favourite citrus of the year – the blood orange. We are always waiting for the first Italian frost to kick the anthocyanin water-soluble vacuolar pigments to red.
Shortly into the new year we move onto the Spanish Sanguinelli blood orange, with its visually amazing red skin and flesh.
Yorkshire forced rhubarb will be available part way through December. This is first grown outside for a period of two years so that exposure to the frost toughens the roots. The rhubarb is then lifted and placed into forcing sheds. Heat is then applied forcing the rhubarb to grow quickly in search of light. It is harvested in candlelight to maintain the tenderness of the shoots and ensure growth. Too much light causes photosynthesis and causes a bitter flavour. This forcing process produces a sweeter and more vivid red coloured Rhubarb. With only Dutch forced available, this will be a cheaper and better tasting alternative.
Potatoes will be all cold stored now and we would normally see an increase in price, but supply is still outstripping demand. We should see a price increase in the new year as we catch up demand.
Prices nearly double for the lettuces like the frizzy endive, lollo rosso and oakleaf, compared with the recently finished English season produce. We will also be moving over to Italian mixed leaf and rocket; prices should remain steady through winter.
While we currently rely on the Dutch / Belgian strawberry supply we will soon be moving over to the typically larger Egyptian fruit. Raspberry and blueberry remain strong fruit while blackberry struggles, with the softer red cell fruit reducing its shelf life – so one to watch. Prices will start to drop towards the end of December.
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