It’s that time of year when lots of beautiful produce starts to come into its season. Find out what’s hot and what’s not in our Seasonal Update for April, which will help you find the best fruits and vegetables to add to your menus this month.
English chard is thriving with all colour options: white, red and yellow available. However, because it likes the cold it may start to suffer as the weather gets warmer. English rainbow chard should arrive by about the 3rd week of April, so not long now.
English red-root spinach is vibrant, tender and succulent, although not quite as genteel as baby spinach, otherwise known as Pousse Epinard. It should nonetheless be treated with consideration and a delicate hand by merely wilting or briefly steaming it.
The English asparagus season doesn’t officially start until St. George’s Day, April 23, but due to a mild winter, it’s already here!
English runner beans and English spring greens are now available!
Italian purple cauliflowers are due to come into season at some point soon whilst new-season Italian fresh peas should already be making an appearance.
Spanish sanguina (blood) oranges are widely available now and reaching their peak towards the end of the month… so grab some whilst they’re at their best!
Golden-skinned and possessing smooth, golden, pulpy flesh, the Indian Honey Mango, also known as Alphonse, is aptly named due to its intense syrupy sweetness. They’re widely considered to be one of the best of all mango varieties in terms of the richness and intensity of their flavour and are often referred to by consumers throughout the Indian sub-continent as the ‘King of Fruits’.
April should also see all sorts of exotic fruits in the market. Worthy of particular note among them are cherimoya (custard apple), dragon fruit, prickly pear, and quince.
Corn salad, also known as lambs leaf/tongue or mâché, has its origins as a weed growing spontaneously among cereal crops in Europe! It possesses slightly waxy, thumb-sized, spoon-shaped leaves and a distinctive, tangy flavour.
It’s most often used as a salad ingredient, but can also be briefly steamed or lightly sautéed. One advantage corn salad has over many of its rivals, especially during cold spells, is that it continues to thrive even at low temperatures without its flavour or delicacy being adversely affected.
English mixed heritage tomatoes are now widely available and normally consist of around 7 or 8 varieties in a 3kg box.
English round lettuce should thrive throughout the month and be of exceptional quality.
English spring onions are pale, firm, very slender and not too bulbous at the end. A lot of cooks prefer this as it makes them ready to serve without the need for much preparation.
Dutch cucumbers, aubergines and peppers (capsicums) are now coming through with English cucumbers arriving very shortly.
English curly parsley should be widely available during the month.
Over time, flat-leafed parsley, also known as continental parsley, has gradually superseded curly parsley in popularity here in the UK, and although it remains by far the biggest seller of the two, I’m glad to say that curly parsley still commands a loyal following among many cooks and chefs.
April Fruit Bowl
April can potentially pose many difficulties for those compiling fruit bowls, displays and platters as it’s a period of transition and consequently mixed fortunes!
French apples will come to an end and gradually be replaced by new-season Southern hemisphere crops.
This part of the world, in particular Chile and South Africa, can usually be relied upon to provide a good selection of red-blushed pear varieties, most notably red bartlett, anjou and forelle, which can be combined with a few green-skinned William pears to achieve instant eye-appeal!
Southern hemisphere peaches, nectarines, apricots and cherries will usually be of poor quality, in short supply or wholly unavailable for much of the month. However, there should be a good selection of much better quality plums, such as yellow songold, red laeticia and fortune.
South African Cape and South American new-season satsuma and clementine varieties should hopefully start to become plentiful towards the end of the month. North African large oranges should be sweet and juicy.
The quality of seedless grapes, particularly green, can become a bit variable. We, therefore, suggest a change to red seedless. Or, if your diners favour taste over convenience, red seeded is an even better alternative.
With regard to exotic fruits, lychees will either be unavailable or of such poor quality as to not be worthy of consideration. Physalis, rambutans, kumquats, prickly pears and nisperos, also known as loquats, on the other hand, will all be plentiful throughout the month.
Also worthy of inclusion are pitahayas, baby pineapples, guavas, and the Indian honey mangoes we mentioned earlier, for a luxurious tropical look.