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What's in season - March

March is a great month for vegetables.The main event is the arrival of the first English Asparagus of the season — glasshouse grown, and perfectly graded and presented. Although it is coaxed out of the ground with a little heat, it is not forced, and in previous years has tasted exceptionally good. Wild Garlic, shows itself in March. Strong, tangy, bright green leaves with a fresh garlic taste. Wonderful in salads and fabulous cooked with egg, meat and poultry dishes. Super-fresh Egyptian Wet Garlic will also make its debut in March. Seakale is a wonderful seaside treat. Supplies should continue through March. Chilean Red Sensation Pears are very much the flavour, and colour of the month. Another fruity highlight is Sanguina Oranges. Delicious and beautiful with just the odd fleck of blood. More good news! Rambutans make a come-back. They'll sell well too, if only because the Lychee season finishes this month. The Cape Apple season starts in earnest. Best for taste is likely to be Golden Gala. Nashi Pears make a return to the market — fresh from Chile. Spain's Strawberries usually become considerably cheaper, putting them back into everyday use. Their quality can be excellent in March. Raspberries should be around, too, but Blueberries may prove difficult. South American Blackberries look and taste great, and should be available most days — albeit at a high price. Peaches and Nectarines are certain to be missing. Plum supplies are far from reliable. Hard, Chilean fruit should remain available. Expect quality and supply problems with Grapes. Sunred Seedless are the best late Cape variety and they can be excellent in March. Otherwise, Seeded Grapes, such as Red Globe, are the best bet. Citrus Fruit is between-season-ish and Satsumas and Clems will be replaced by super-juicy, (not quite so easy to peel) Moroccan Ortaniques. Outdoor Rhubarb is a dessert choice that’s keenly priced in March. Last season, poor weather in Spain played havoc with warm-weather vegetable prices. Large Spanish Red Chillies have a great chilli taste, without too much heat. Provided they are de-pithed, they can be served in salads or grilled or roasted and served whole. French Salads look good in the spring and some English lettuces will begin to filter back into the market. Avocados can experience quality dips (rather than make them). Yellow Canaries are fairly common, but Yellow Canary Tomatoes are around for only a few weeks each year. They usually start in March. English Cucumbers should appear on the scene mid-month. This should bring prices down. Dutch Aubergines are always glossy and firm. I'm glad to say they'll be available soon. Broccoli is expected to be excellent with crops arriving from Spain and Jersey and some home grown spears appearing if weather permits. Kentish Leaf Broccoli supplies should resume and Purple Sprouting Broccoli should continue to shine. Tiny Primo Cabbage Shoots, from the same grower, are a delicate, delicious and beautiful alternative to greens. We should also have rare Ragged Jack and Asparagus Kale. If you fancy something a little more exotic, Cavalo Nero is likely to be around. The delicious and dark, crinkly Italian leaves are perfect wilted in olive oil, or used in Italian stews. Vegetable Rape is another delicious, semi-bitter sprouting broccoli-is Italian gem. Cyprus Potatoes become a more viable proposition as Old English Potatoes begin to show signs of deterioration, but are likely to become expensive. Jersey Royals make a spring debut and the indoor crop is fabulous. Sadly, the price is sure to be fabulous too. Fresh Morelles should arrive mid-month. Pied De Moutons and Chanterelles Gris should continue to arrive with reasonable regularity. Last year we received a few Giroles and Trompettes, and beautiful, reasonably priced and tasty Pia Pino. Grey-capped Charbonelles are handsome and tasty, but don’t crop well every year.

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