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...
Plums- plum position for fantastic fruits

Plums- plum position for fantastic fruits

Plums were one of the first fruits domestically cultivated by humans. Evidence of the remains of the fruit have been found in Neolithic archaeological sites. They are members of the Prunus family, alongside apricots, peaches and cherries. Plums are considered  “drupes”, a fruit that has a hard stone surrounding the seeds.  China is the largest producer of plums in the world, producing 6,100,000 tonnes per year. There are over 2000 varieties of plum available throughout the world. The colour of plum skins can be red, purple, blue/black, green, yellow or orange. The flesh of the plum also comes in an abundance of colours including red, yellow, green and pink. Although there are many different varieties, they are classified into six general categories. Japanese American Damson Ornamental Wild European/Garden Green Gage Plums. The Green Gage is considered one of the best flavoured varieties of plum. Although it’s known for the flavour, Green Gages are not as visually appealing as many other varieties. The Green gage has a dull, dusty green colour that yellows slightly once ripe. Green Gages have been cultivated since the middle ages in France. There are many different French varieties of green skinned Gages, they are collectively known as Reine Claude. It is general belief that they were introduce to Great Britain during the 18th century by sir William Gage, when he obtained a tree from his brother who was a priest in France. Green Gages can be used for all manner of great tasting deserts and can even be used to flavour gin.   Damson Plums. The Damson has a distinct rich flavour, it is high in sugar and highly astringent. Damson skin...
Turnips and Swede – What is the difference?

Turnips and Swede – What is the difference?

Turnips Turnips are a cruciferous vegetable (member of the mustard family). Turnips thrive in cool climates. The turnip that we know is thought to have descended from the Wild Turnip which is native to Central Asia, the Mediterranean and the Near East. Turnips have been sold in England since the 16th century. The turnip was a staple with the Romans and across Europe before the potato. Turnips were used for both human and animal feed. When the first fleet went from England to Australia in 1787 turnips were planted on Norfolk Island in 1788. There are more than 30 varieties of turnip, the most familiar being the European type. This is a creamy/white globe with a purple top. The purple top comes from top of the vegetable being out of the soil and exposed to the sun. The taste of the turnip is sweet and slightly peppery. Perhaps due to it’s association with livestock fodder the turnip is not as popular in the U.K as it is in other parts of the world. The French serve them glazed, braised or sautéd, Italians put them in risottos. The Chinese sweet roast them whereas in they are enjoyed pickled in Japan and the Middle East. Turnip Records Scott and Mardie Robb grew the heaviest turnip on record, weighing 17.7 kg at the Alaska State Fair, Palmer, USA on 1.9.04. China produces the most turnips in the world a whooping 15,899,078 tonnes per year. This is over 10000000 tonnes more than the next five biggest producers (USA, Russia, Uzbekistan, Poland and the United Kingdom). Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United...