April heralds a real change in our arch, bringing Wild Garlic Leaves, Nettle Tops and Jersey Royal Potatoes. English winter/spring Purple Sprouting Broccoli comes to an end this month and we see the very brief season White sprouting form this month. Forced Rhubarb gives way to Outdoor Grown Rhubarb. Earthy Morel Mushrooms and, briefly, St George’s Mushrooms are to be expected. From Italy come Broad Beans, Peas and both wild and cultivated Asparagus. Spring Herbs shoot up now and juicy radishes and small crunchy hothouse Cucumbers arrive. We usually see some fantastic Wet Garlic bulbs this month too. There are European Artichokes still, joined by early Courgettes and Tenarumi. April also brings the early varieties of Strawberries – French Gariguette but it’s not unknown for us to have UK-grown ones before the month is out. The best Mangoes of the year arrive from India and Pakistan this month too.
Here is a taster of the things you can expect to find here at Puntarelle & Co in the month of April:
April marks the last of the Purple Sprouting Broccoli and the shorter season White Sprouting Broccoli.
We have earthy, saline Jersey Royal Potatoes.
Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring Nettle Tops (bag with care!).
English Wild Garlic leaves feature strongly this month.
Watercress comes in from France and there is English-grown too.
New season UK-grown sweet, juicy Cucumbers and mild, crunchy Spring Onions.
Romano Courgettes and the first Ridged Cucumbers – so good for fermenting and pickling - from Italy.
Wispy Wild Asparagus from Italy, as well as fat spears of the purple and white Asparagus varieties. If we get a warm spring, there is early English-grown too.
Rainbow Chard from Italy.
Italian Peas and Broad Beans
Fat, juicy bulbs of Wet Garlic – the first is usually from Morocco before the European ones arrives.
Outdoor-grown Rhubarb, from our preferred farmer in Kent, takes over from Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb.
April sees early varieties of Strawberries, including Gariguette and the best Mangoes of the year from India and Pakistan.
Heritage Tomatoes begin to take over from winter Camone and Marinda this month and large Provence Tomatoes begin to arrive.
Radishes change from large winter varieties to small, crunchy spring ones.
Cool weather harvests of bitter Radicchio and Chicories like Puntarelle and Cime de Rapa reduce through April.
Tropea Onions from Italy make a welcome return.
New season Aubergines from Italy are now coming in more variety of sizes and shapes and there are Spring season Green and Purple Artichokes, large and small.
Morel Mushrooms are a feature of April and St George’s Mushrooms make a very brief appearance.
Potted Spring Herbs join our usual display of cut herbs.
Don’t forget to check-out our London Fermentary fridges when you visit our arch on Saturdays. If you follow Puntarelle_Co on Instagram and/or on Twitter, we’d love it if you would show your support by also following us @london_fermentary on Instagram and/or @LondonFermentary on Twitter. We’ll be able to keep you informed with news, like what seasonal Ferments you can expect to find each month.
Bridging the gap between winter and spring this month we have an Outdoor Rhubarb & Gariguette Strawberry Water Kefir and a Mango & Lime version for you. Carrot Kraut, fermented with mustard seeds & ginger is back in stock and you’ll find jars of Kimchi too along with our fermented sauces including our ever-popular Yellow Mellow Sauce.
Apart from being delicious, these unpasteurised fermented drinks bring beneficial micro-organisms, B vitamins, minerals and enzymes in a slightly sour, zingy, low-sugar form. More about our range of Fermented products at: www.londonfermentary.com
Rich in vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, iron and calcium, considering Nettles as a weed seriously undervalues their nutritional benefits. Here at Puntarelle & Co we have them in Spring and early Summer when they are at their vigorous best. Like everything that grows wild, you need to be sure it has grown in a clean environment if you are going to eat it. Buy from us or, if you have a trusted patch near you, go out and snip the tops. Take care picking them or filling your bag as they pack a mighty sting until subjected to brief heat or cold.
Here is an idea for using them:
Nettle & Spinach Soup
Around 350g (12 oz) nettle tops
Around 350g (12 oz) spinach or chard
50g (2 oz) butter or olive oil
2 leeks or onions, sliced
1 medium potato, diced (optional)
Around 1 litre (1¾ pints) vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Cream to serve
Wash the nettle tops carefully (they sting until cooked) and the spinach or chard and drain both.
In a large pan, melt the butter and add the sliced leeks or onions. Cook, without colouring, for 5-10 minutes to soften. (Add diced potato at this point if you want a heartier soup). Add the nettles and spinach or chard, cover and cook until just wilted. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
Liquidise then reheat and season with salt and pepper.
Serve with a spoonful of cream atop each bowl of soup.