• WellingtonFresh

The Wellington Weekly

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’’. However, prepping them can be a bit of a pain because, being quite soft when fully ripe and exceedingly succulent, they’re not that easy to cut or slice in the traditional way, which is why they’re sometimes also called Sucking Mangos. Therefore it’s perhaps fair to say that fruit salads and platters are not exactly their forté, but juices, smoothies and purees (especially as a basis for a traditional Indian mint sauce) certainly is.

Native to Java and Sumatra, Snake Fruit is the informal epithet most commonly given to the Salak, and is due to the fact that its dark brown skin possess a scaly, serpent-like appearance and texture. It is similar in size and shape to that of a fig, and beneath the easily removable skin you’ll find a creamy-white fruit in 3 segments which look a bit like garlic cloves. Each segment contains a hard, inedible brown seed and the flesh surrounding it is itself surrounded by a thin membrane which should be removed. The texture of the fruit overall is crisp and crunchy and its flavour, which is sweet yet acidic, has been likened to that of pineapple combined with the slight astringency associated with raw chestnut. Snake fruit is called the Fruit of Memory in Indonesia due to its levels of potassium and pectin. It contains nutrients like thiamine, iron and calcium, as well as high levels of vitamin C. Its most common uses include pies fillings, jams and preserves; it can also be candied, pickled or made into syrup.

The English Asparagus Season doesn’t officially start until St George’s Day (April 23), with the first spears normally only just beginning to emerge through the topsoil of the Worcestershire growing fields during about the second week of the month. It appears, though, that whilst St George’s back was turned and he was perhaps otherwise engaged in the pursuance of more dragons to slaughter, some early crops have in fact already begun to trickle into the market. Don’t get too over-excited, though, because we won’t be switching our standard Asparagus stocks yet, as it’s eye-wateringly expensive. However, if you simply can’t live without it, please talk with your account manager. Despite English asparagus being widely regarded as among the best (if not the best) money can buy, the overall quality of these ’’pre-release’’ examples cannot, at the time of writing, be assured.

After a hiatus of several weeks which began with the demise of home-grown Red Root Spinach, it is now available once more with the arrival of new season Spanish imports. The examples I saw on my last visit to the market a couple of days ago were truly impressive, being lush, verdant, blemish-free and full of vivacity.

Dutch Cucumbers, Aubergines and Capsicums are about to start coming on stream, and there’s talk in the market that English Cucumbers are also imminent. For the time being, though, we’ll be sticking with current Spanish crops whilst their quality remains good and their price more favourable in comparison.

Both English and French Stinging Nettles have started to appear in the market. English nettles usually start to come into season about now, but I think the French ones may be a bit late, because I have known them to arrive as early as mid-March. Anyway, the uses to which they can be put are endless, as a quick search of the inter-web will confirm. Let me make it clear, however, that these are not suitable for eating raw. They must be cooked in order to neutralise the formic acid which gives the nettles their sting, and this can be achieved by wilting, boiling or steaming. We will have to insist on a minimum order requirement of at least 1kg, which isn’t such a lot when one takes into account that once cooked its volume is likely to reduce by about 1/4.

Wild Mushrooms available at the time of writing are Chanterelles from the USA, plus Portuguese Pied De Mouton and Girolles.