In Season: September
New season English Brussels Sprouts should start to appear in early September, initial examples of which tend to be firm, nutty and much milder and sweeter than those which appear later on in the season.
English Cauliflower should thrive throughout the month – not only with regard their size and overall quality, but also in terms of their abundance (supply chains permitting). English Romanesco, too, should continue to flourish. English Cavalo Nero (Black Cabbage), as well as Chard in all its various forms, should remain impressive. Both Green and Purple Kohlrabi are in season in September.
English Mixed Coloured Chantenay Carrots (comprising Orange, Yellow and Purple), as well as English Piccolo Parsnips should arrive in the market within the first couple of weeks of the month. Often mistakenly referred to as baby parsnips, Piccolo Parsnips are in fact a separate, fully grown parsnip cultivar in their own right. Roughly measuring around 8-10cm in length with a diameter of maybe 1-1.5cm at the thick end, they’re small enough for roasting whole without the need to peel them or remove the central core, which is more succulent and less woody than can often be the case with regular-sized parsnips.
English new season Cox’s Apples should be available by week 2 of the month, early examples of which will be crisp and slightly sharp. However, as they mature they’ll develop a sweeter, mellower flavour and a more floury texture.
Spanish Leaf Clementines should start to appear sometime before the middle of the month. However, the skins of early examples are likely to be somewhat on the green side and, although perfectly okay to eat, are unlikely to attract much interest from your clientele. Given, let’s say, 2-3 more weeks, though, they should start arriving in a much more advanced state of readiness. Whilst on the subject of Easy Peelers, Spanish Satsumas, too, will have come into season and will, in time, start to replace the Nadorcotts that represent our current offering in the small citrus category.
Often erroneously marketed as Baby Kiwi, the Kiwi Berry is (like the Piccolo Parsnips mentioned earlier) a unique and fully-grown variety in its own right. Grape-sized and possessing smooth, tender and entirely edible green skins, their flavour is definitely kiwi-like, but more akin to that of Golden Kiwi than their more acidic green cousins. Imported from Chile and available in 175g punnets yielding around 15-18 in number, they should be in the market around week 2 or 3 of the month.
Turkish Brown Figs will continue to be excellent quality and value for money through most of the month, maybe coming to an end in the final week of the month.
French Quince should make an appearance roughly mid-month. Quince is a large, yellow-skinned pear-like fruit traditionally used in the making of jams and conserves (in fact, the term ‘marmalade’ is derived from ‘marmelo’’ which is Portuguese for Quince). However, these flavoursome and highly fragrant fruits can be utilised in other ways. For example, they can be poached and served as an accompaniment to lamb or pork, or finely diced and used to enhance the flavour and bouquet of fruit salads and fruit-based sauces.
September is a month of change for Melons with all varieties (Watermelon, Honeydew, Cantaloupe & Galia) switching from Spain to Brazil by mid month. The beginning of the month brings some excellent end of season Spanish fruit however the switch doesn’t always take place seamlessly with quality and price fluctuations to be expected depending on how the Spanish season ends and if the coincides with the first arrivals of Brazilian fruit.
September will provide a wide choice of different Garlic varieties all in season simultaneously. For example, Chinese Solo Garlic, which is similar in size and appearance to that of a medium pickling onion with purple streaks running top-to-bottom. As their name suggests, rather than being segmented into cloves separated by a papery membrane, each bulb is in fact a single clove. Less pungent and slightly more perfumed than regular garlic, it works particularly well if finely sliced or baked whole, whereupon the flesh becomes paste-like and spreadable. They’re available in punnets which will normally yield an average of around 12 bulbs. Consider also French Wet Garlic (newly harvested garlic that hasn’t had time to dry-out during long periods in storage and is therefore moist and mellow) and French Smoked Garlic, whose pervasive aroma always evokes memories of the dying embers of the firework night bonfires of my childhood.
Wet Walnuts, unlike the ones we’re used to cracking open and delving into at Christmas, are newly harvested and therefore haven’t had time to dry-out and develop a hard shell during long periods of storage; instead, the shell is less brittle (although not exactly soft) and has a distinctly and permanently damp feel to it. The kernels themselves, being still young, are moist, tender and succulent, possessing a soft yet crunchy texture similar to pine nuts. One of autumn’s great delicacies, they should start to arrive from France around week 3. French Fresh Chestnuts should also arrive round about the same time.
September heralds the official start of the Wild Mushroom season in Europe. The varieties which most commonly begin to arrive earlier on in the month (mostly from France) are likely to include Girolles, Pied De Mouton, Grey and Yellow Chanterelles and Trompettes.
You can't eat them, but instead merely marvel at the sheer magnificence of the range and scale of colours, patterns and profiles arrayed in the 7kg selection of ornamental Mixed Gourds which should start to arrive in the market around week 3 of the month.
By September we’ll have switched our Lollo, Oak and Frisee to European supplies from Italy, Spain and France whilst Iceberg, Gem, Cos and Round Lettuce will remain English grown for the whole month.
September Fruit Bowl
September is a month of mixed fortunes for those compiling fruit-bowls, baskets, displays and platters.
For the first few weeks at least one can usually expect good supplies of French, Italian, Spanish and English Plums. However, the quality of Peaches and Nectarines is likely to become less consistent and prices much more irregular. Apricots are likely to disappear altogether. European Cherries will have finished, to be replaced by air-freighted imports from the USA and Canada, making them prohibitively expensive.
French Royal Gala and Granny Smith Apples should start trickling in during the course of the month to replace southern hemisphere crops. Furthermore, all manner of English Apple varieties, too, should start to come into season throughout September, and will include the likes of Worcester Pearmain and Egremont Russet. Arguably the most celebrated of all the English cultivars, namely the Cox, will likely to appear towards the latter part of the month.
English Conference Pears will be crunchy and delicious and both French and Italian Red Williams will be excellent, too.
Blood Oranges have been known to make and early appearance towards the end of the month, but this will depend very much on the Sicilian climate being just right. Our advice is to take nothing for granted.
Large Italian White Seeded Grapes will start arriving and continue to improve as the month progresses but won't reach their pinnacle until October; Seedless Grapes should, however, be particularly good throughout the month.
Strawberries will have their ups and downs and good quality Blackberries won't be as plentiful as you might imagine due to the fact that most cultivated varieties are early-ripening and consequently may by this time have started to become scarcer.
- Jack Lawless