Jun 30 2020

Spain Sets the Bar High With Quality Summer Fresh Products

No other country does fresh summer produce quite like Spain. From tomatoes and green beans to figs and cherries, Spain is truly in a league of its own, with several of its regions affectionately referred to as “Europe’s orchard.”

No other country does fresh summer produce quite like Spain. From tomatoes and green beans to figs and cherries, Spain is truly in a league of its own, with several of its regions affectionately referred to as “Europe’s orchard.”

From Almería’s extensive greenhouses, where tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchinis are grown, to the incredibly vast selection in Murcia, which is a leader in Spain in terms of fruit and vegetable exports, the hot weather brings with it some of the freshest, juiciest, most delicious fresh foods in the world.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at watermelon, cucumbers, cherries, melons, zucchini and tomatoes, where they’re grown, the most popular varieties, and some of the best traditional and modern recipes in which they’re given pride of place.

Watermelon from Spain

Two regions, Murcia and Almería, are leading watermelon producers in Spain, with production exceeding 900,000 tons in 2019. Spain ranks first in the world in terms of exports of this popular summer fruit, and primary destinations include Germany, France and the UK. Production numbers continually set new records annually, with a large focus on seedless varieties, which are increasingly popular at home and abroad.

The most common seedless varieties in Spain are Reina de Corazones, Apirena, and Fashion, while popular seeded watermelons include Early Star, Dulce Maravilla, Resistant, Sugar Baby and Crimson Sweet.

Cucumbers from Spain

Almería and Granada are the main regions responsible for cucumber production in Spain, accounting for around 90% of the total, and Spain is one of the leading producers in the European Union. Moreover, exports have performed spectacularly in recent years, with countries like Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, France and Poland absorbing the bulk.

You can add some decidedly Spanish flavors to your cucumbers with this delicious recipe, Cucumber carpaccio with baby sardines and tapenade marinade.

Cherries from Spain

Extremadura is the region responsible for 45% of Spain’s cherry production and it’s home to the Jerte Valley, which is famous for its incredible cherries, which are certified under the DO Cereza del Jerte label, and is home to 100 different varieties. Around 60% of the fruit from this valley are allocated for export, primarily to the UK, France and Germany.

If you’re looking for the perfect recipe for summer, cherry sorbet with chocolate covered cherries and mint is most definitely it.

Melons from Spain

Melons in Spain are generally harvested in June and July, particularly those that grow in the open ground, while those grown in greenhouses are ready as from May.

Once again, Murcia takes the lead in Spain in terms of exports, edging out Almeria and sending most of those melons to France. The most popular varieties are called Piel de Sapo, also known as Santa Claus melon, typically grown in Murcia and La Mancha; Melon de la Mancha, from the Castile-La Mancha region; and Melon de Torre Pacheco-Murcia, from the region of Murcia.

The sweet flavor of melon pairs perfectly with Serrano ham and together they make an excellent appetizer or side dish, and melon can be used in more complex recipes, for example as a tartar with traditional gazpacho and mint.

Zucchini from Spain

Zucchini is an important vegetable for Spanish growers, especially in Murcia, where production has increased almost fourfold in the last decade. Even so, Almería is by far Spain’s number one producing region, 80% of which is exported, primarily to France, Germany and Portugal.

The main varieties in Spain are dark green zucchini, called Sofia and Samara; light green zucchini, known as Grison and Clarita; yellow zucchini; and also round zucchini.

If you need inspiration, grab that zucchini from the fridge and make Light coca with red shrimp, Raf tomato and baby zucchini; Lentil lasaña with Arzúa-Ulloa cheese; or Baked chicken with eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes.
Tomatoes from Spain

Spain is a European giant when it comes to tomatoes. Andalusia and Extremadura are the leading producers par excellence, and in 2019 the latter region achieved record production levels, attributable to a combination of good agricultural practices and favorable weather.

The tomato is an essential ingredient in countless Spanish dishes, from gazpacho to bread with Ibérico ham and tomato. Of course, there’s no shortage of delicious and more complex recipes you can make with tomatoes, such as Persimmon shrimp and tomato napoleons to morcilla with tomato, potato and quince chutney.

Spain’s farmers work tirelessly to produce high-quality foods for domestic and international consumption, and they’re open and committed to innovation and the use of environmentally-friendly agricultural practices. As a leading producer for so many types of summer fruits and vegetables, Spain sets the bar very high.

Text: Samara Kamenecka/@ICEX