Sweet potato -versatile, delicious and healthy.

Sweet potato -versatile, delicious and healthy.

The sweet potato is thought to have been domestically cultivated since around 8000 BC. It is thought to have originated in either Central or South America. The sweet potato is grown throughout tropical and warm regions. As they were a reliable crop their popularity spread throughout the Islands of the Pacific Ocean. They now feature in many popular dishes in Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and other Island nations. In 1492, Christopher Columbus bought the sweet potato to Europe after his voyage to the New World. China produces around 80 million tons of sweet potato every year, Africa produces around 14 million tons and the U.S about 1 million tons. Over half of commercially grown sweet potatoes in the United States are grown in southern states, with North Carolina accounting for a majority of this. Despite the name potatoes and sweet potatoes are not botanically related. The potato is a member of the Solanaceae family along with tomatoes, peppers and aubergines. Plant species in this family produce posionous solanine, which means you should not eat the leaves or stems of any plant in this family, or potatoes that have turned green. The sweet potato is a member of the Convolvulaceae family with flowering morning glory vines. The leaves of the sweet potato can be eaten and are very nutritious.   Sweet Potatoes & Yams. Like swede and turnip and broccoli and calabrese there is some confusion between the sweet potato and the yam. In many places the sweet potato is called a yam, this is due to the USDA trying to differentiate between white flesh and orange flesh sweet potatoes. Yams...
Chard, healthy, seasonal produce.

Chard, healthy, seasonal produce.

Chard is a leafy vegetable, it is a member of the beet family. Unlike beetroot which are primarily harvested for their roots, chard is grown for it’s crunchy stalks and larger tender leaves. For many thousands of years chard has been cultivated, it most likely originates in the Mediterranean, where it was incredibly popular until the introduction of spinach. There are many different varieties of chard, this delightful vegetable is known by many names including Swiss chard, sea kale beet, white beet, Sicilian beet, Roman kale, spinach beet, perpetual spinach, mangold, bright lights, crab beet, strawberry kale and silver beet. The name chard originates from the French word “carde”, which refers to the artichoke thistle or cardoon. It is possible to eat chard raw or cooked. When the leaves are tender and young they are commonly used in salads. As it matures it can be sautéed or added to recipes, the leaves and stems become tougher and the taste is more bitter, the cooking process helps to mellow the flavour. Swiss Chard. This variety is also known as silver beet and perpetual spinach. The leaves are shiny, ribbed and  tender with a deep green colour and white stalks. Taste wise this variety is very similar to spinach, although it has a more bitter flavour. The ribbed leaves can often become quite muddy, so it is important to wash any dirt off before use. After washing it is best kept wrapped in a paper towel and refrigerated, under these conditions it should keep for up to four days. The name may mislead some into thinking that it originates in Switzerland. The word Swiss was...
Purple Sprouting Broccoli – Seasonal Eating

Purple Sprouting Broccoli – Seasonal Eating

Purple sprouting has been cultivated since Roman times. It is only during the last 30 years that it has come to prominence in the U.K. As the name suggests purple sprouting gets it’s name from the purple colour of the head of the plant. Part of the reason that purple sprouting has become popular is due to the mild flavour. This tasty flavour compliments a variety of dishes and works well with salads, quiches, pasta bakes stir fries and any dish that you would use broccoli in. Purple sprouting works well with salty ingredients, it pairs well with bacon, anchovies, parmesan and blue cheese. To achieve a sweeter and richer flavour it is often roasted, the flavour can also be enhanced with chilli and garlic. Purple sprouting’s bittersweet notes work well with game or red meat. Broccoli or calabrese? Like turnips and swedes, many people are confused by the difference between broccoli and calabrese. Where as turnips and swede are completely different, calabrese and broccoli are two varieties of the same vegetable. These different varieties have distinct characteristics which allow you to easily distinguish one from the other. Physically calabrese and broccoli look very different from each other. The head of calabrese is green, broccoli produces white or purple heads (referred to as white sprouting and purple sprouting). Calabrese has a mild flavour and a tender texture that is close to asparagus. Broccoli has a mildly bitter taste and is tougher than calabrese. Most of the plant is edible head,stalks and leaves. They are at their tastiest when they’re young. When buying purple sprouting look for the stalks to...
Jersey Royal Potatoes – seasonal food highlight.

Jersey Royal Potatoes – seasonal food highlight.

The Jersey Royal potato has been grown for over 130 years on Jersey. There are around 20 farmers on Jersey that grow these potatoes, many of these focus solely on growing the Jersey Royal. The Jersey Royal is the biggest produce export from Jersey, with over 99% being sent to the U.K. Like Cornish clotted cream and the Cornish pasty, Jersey Royals are covered by a Protected Designation of Origin, under the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union. Jersey Royal production. The history of the Jersey Royal dates back to around 1880 when a Jersey farmer named Hugh de la Haye, planted a large potato that he had bought. The potato had “15 eyes” which were planted in a steep slopped field above the Bellozanne valley. From one of these plants grew kidney shaped potatoes that had a paper-thin skin. This potato was originally named the Jersey Royal Fluke, which was later shortened to Jersey Royal. The soil in Jersey is well drained and light, many local farmers use a seaweed harvested from the surrounding beaches as a natural fertilizer (known as Vraic). The practice of using seaweed as a fertilizer dates back to the 12th century. Production begins in November when they are planted in glass houses. The main outdoor crop are planted between January and April. Like many treasured seasonal products such as  strawberries and asparagus, the Jersey Royal is only available for a relatively short period. The harvesting of this starts in late March and ends in July. During the peak season (May) up to 1500 tonnes of Jersey Royals are exported daily. The harvesting of the Jersey...