The popularity of buying gourmet vegetables is continuing to grow and for good reason; easy, low-fat, rich in fibre and protein, and a great way to add flavour and boost all of your favourite dishes including pasta, soups and sauces.
At Gourmet Life, mushrooms, raddichio and asparagus are just some of our most-loved gourmet vegetables. Below we share our tips on when to buy and what to look out for.
There are two types of gourmet asparagus we sell at Gourmet Life; white and wild.
White asparagus is basically the same as green asparagus, only it’s white. This is because it’s grown underground and has never seen the light of day. Green asparagus is a bit grassy in flavour, while white asparagus is mild, sweet and slightly bitter. This delicate flavour is perhaps why it's so highly valued in Europe.
Wild asparagus in harder to hunt down and is most commonly found fresh in Italy and the south of France. It has a very intense and bitter taste so it may not be favoured by everyone.
Asparagus is considered a good source of vitamin K, antioxidants, and thiamine.
When to buy?
Both white and wild asparagus is available all year round however is best from the beginning of April through until the end of May.
Porcini mushrooms are our most commonly found gourmet mushroom known for their strong, hearty and nutty flavour. Not only do they taste great, they have a high nutritional content making them a wonderful substitute for meat if you are vegan or vegetarian.
They are commonly grown in Italy and throughout Europe in hardwood forests amongst pine, chestnut and hemlock, and known for their thick stem, large-cap and denseness. These babies are not light and can weigh up to 1kg when mature.
When buying fresh, make sure you purchase only young mushrooms and always check the outer and under part of its cap. If it’s dark, soft or covered with black sports, then it’s probably too mature to eat.
When purchasing dried porcini mushroom, it’s good to look out for a strong smell. Avoid packages made up of too much dust or crumbled pieces, as the flavour is not likely to be very strong.
When to buy?
Porcini mushrooms fruit in the European Summer to Autumn, therefore are seasonally best from the beginning of April until the end of June.
We also sell fresh French mushrooms seasonally available and best from beginning of April until mid-December.
Anyone looking to add a little spice and bitterness to their palette, go no further than this member of the Chicory family. Very similar to red cabbage, raddichio has distinctive red leaves with white veins and is named after the Italian regions in which it originates from. Therefore, it is often used in Italian cuisine.
When choosing raddichio, always look for unblemished foliage that is not wilted and avoid bunches with brown or wilted leaves.
When to buy?
Although available all year round, early December through to late February is when our best time to buy is.