Spanish Sanguina (Blood) Oranges should be widely available during April, reaching their peak towards the end of the month.
Golden-skinned and possessing smooth, golden, pulpy flesh, Indian Honey (aka Alphonse) Mangoes are aptly named due to their 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, Quince, Sapodilla/Sapota (Chikoo Fruit), Tamarillo and Feijoa. See also the April Fruit Bowl section at the end for even more available options.
Corn Salad (aka Lambs Leaf/Tongue or Mâché) has its origins as a weed growing spontaneously among cereal crops in Europe and 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 Round Lettuce should thrive throughout the month and be of exceptional quality.
English Spring Onions, which are pale, firm, very, very slender and not too bulbous at the ends, which a lot of cooks prefer as it makes them ready to serve without the need for much preparation.
English Mixed Heritage Tomatoes should be quite widely available and normally will consist of around 7 or 8 varieties weighing-in at a total of about 3kg per selection.
Dutch Cucumbers, Aubergines and Capsicums should start to come on stream around mid-month, with English Cucumbers arriving not long after.
English Curly Parsley should be widely available during the month. Over time Flat-Leafed (or Continental) Parsley has gradually superseded it in popularity in the UK, and although it remains by far the biggest seller of the two, I’m glad to say that curly parsley still commands a loyal following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.
The English Asparagus season doesn’t officially commence until St George’s Day (April 23). I personally have always felt this date to be largely symbolic of its status as one of this country’s truly unique offerings to the world. This belief is reinforced during times when the preceding winter has been comparatively mild, because, as a consequence, home-grown asparagus will invariably come to market several weeks earlier than the allotted time.
English Spring Greens should arrive no later than the middle of the month.
Italian Purple Cauliflowers are due to come into season at some point early on.
English Red-Root Spinach is vibrant, tender and succulent, although not quite as genteel as Pousse/Baby Spinach, it should nonetheless be treated with consideration and a delicate hand by merely wilting or briefly steaming it.
New season Italian Fresh Peas should make an appearance early in the month, and English Runner Beans should be available not long after.
English Chard should be thriving, with all colour options (White, Red and Yellow) available, but 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.
April Fruit Bowl
April can potentially pose many difficulties for those compiling fruit bowls, displays and platters. The month will be a period of transition and consequently of mixed fortunes.
French Apples will come to an end and gradually be displaced by new season Southern Hemisphere crops. This part of the world, in particular Chile and South Africa, can also 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 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 flavour taste over convenience, Red Seeded is an even better alternative.
With regard 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 (aka Loquats) on the other hand, will all be plentiful throughout the month.
Also worthy of inclusion are Pitahayas, Baby Pineapples, Guavas, and Indian Alphonse Mangoes for a luxurious tropical look.