2017 Six month retrospective.

2017 Six month retrospective.

2017 has been an interesting year here at Westcountry. We have launched a new Plough to Plate brochure and opened a new depot in Somerset. It is hard to believe that we are almost at the end of June. with this in mind it seams fitting to take a look at some of the events that have shaped the year so far. January 2017. 2017 was not a great start for fresh produce. Torrential rain in Spain led to flooding, which decimated glasshouses and vast quantities of salad produce, caused a break in supply and caused prices to sky rocket. The deep freeze in Italy put crops such as lettuce, chicory, baby leaf, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, rocket and spinach at risk and caused more price rises. January was not all bad though we were sourcing some superb quality English produce including Kales, Chards, Potatoes, Carrots, Parsnips, Savoy and Cauliflowers. Towards the end of the month we began stocking the first Yorkshire Rhubarb of the season. February 2017. February is always a busy month for us as there is a run of trade shows throughout the South West. This year we added to the busy trade show calendar by hosting our second Plough to Plate “Meet the Producer” event. Held at the Royal Cornwall Showground Pavilions, we hosted the event that featured more than 40 artisan producers and served as the official launch of the new look Plough to Plate brochure. This event enabled customers to meet the producers and allowed them to be inspired by their passion for food. The rest of February was spent meeting and greeting existing and potential customers at the...
Kitchen Gadgets – Solutions for every chef.

Kitchen Gadgets – Solutions for every chef.

Anyone who has ever idly skipped through the shopping channels will know there are a plethora of kitchen gadgets designed to make the chef’s life easier. But for every George Foreman Grill there is a Hulk Hogan Thunder Shaker. However some of these kitchen gadgets are destined to remain in the box at the back of the cupboard. After plunging the depths of the internet and the shopping channels we bring you a light hearted look at the kitchen gadgets you never knew you needed. Essential Kitchen Gadgets – Slicers. There is a huge variety of product specific slicers designed to take the place of the trusty knife some of the more unusual kitchen gadgets design for slicing include. The Blancho Melon Corer and Slicer. Coming from Hong Kong this stainless steel slicer is “A definite must-have for your happy home life.” The slicer can can core and slice watermelon in one quick, convenient step. Good Grips’ Mango Splitter. For those who struggle to prepare a mango this device features soft grip handles and  can stone and prepare mangoes with “just one press”. Banana Slicer. Ever struggled to slice through your bananas? If the answer is yes then there are a surprising number of options available to ensure you are able to cut through the notoriously tough  banana. The Hutzler Banana Slicer has been designed with the unique shape of the banana in mind and will easily slice your banana into equal sized pieces. Avocado Slicer, Pealer and Corer. This 3 in 1 tool from Frugo promises to “make better use of your time in the kitchen”. It has been designed to slice, core and cut...
Mustard, one of the oldest, most popular condiments.

Mustard, one of the oldest, most popular condiments.

Mustard is one of the world’s oldest condiments. In the late 4th to early 5th century, the Romans were combining a mixture of ground mustard, pepper, caraway, lovage, grilled coriander seeds, dill, celery, thyme, oregano, onion, honey, vinegar, fish sauce, and oil, to be used as a glaze for wild boar. The Romans then took mustard seeds to Gaul, it was planted alongside grapes in vineyards. French monasteries helped to popularise the condiment and sold it during the 9th century. Maurice Grey and Antoine Poupon introduced the world to Grey Poupon Dijon mustard during the 1770s. Jeremiah Colman (founder of Colman’s Mustard) was appointed mustard maker to Queen Victoria in 1886. Mustard Plant. Although it is the seeds which are used to make mustard the leaves of the plant are also edible. The mustard plant is a member of the brassica family like broccoli and cauliflower. Many Asian leaves such as mizuna and tatsoi are technically mustards. Mustard Varieties. There are many types of mustards these include: English Mustard: One of the most familiar sites in kitchens and on dining tables throughout the U.K, this variety is made using wheat flour and turmeric. It has a hot peppery taste and the distinct yellow colour comes from the turmeric. Dijon Mustard: Is smooth and made from brown seeds, it is made using verjuice instead of vinegar. The acidity from the verjuice gives Dijon an intensified heat and a more pungent flavour. Wholegrain Mustard: It’s thick, coarse texture is made by grinding the seeds to form a paste, but not so fine that all the seeds are broken down. There are many other varieties each with a distinct...
Bananas world’s most popular fruit.

Bananas world’s most popular fruit.

Bananas are the world’s most popular fruit, with more than 150 countries cultivating over 105 million tonnes every year. However the banana is not a fruit, it is a herb that grows up to 15 metres high. There are nearly 1000 banana varieties which are divided into 50 groups. The most familiar of these is the Cavendish variety, that is grown for the export market. Origin of bananas. Bananas are a staple crop for tropical farmers, they offer a readily absorbed, easy to digest source of carbohydrates and vitamins. The history of the banana dates way back into the ancient world. Archeologists believe that bananas were first domesticated in the Kuk Valley in New Guinea, around 8,000 BC. Domestication of the banana appears to have spread from New Guinea to the Philippines and then across the tropics, from there it is most likely that domestication ocured in India, Indonesia, Australia and Malaysia. Buddhist literature references the banana in 600 B.C. The Japanese were harvesting specific banana varieties, in order to use their fibres for textiles. Using special techniques involving lye soaks they were able to produce textiles soft enough for kimonos or coarse enough for a table cloth. Bananas developed to a worldwide trade commodity in the early nineteenth century. Merchants shipped them from the Caribbean to markets in America and Europe in the early 1800s. Merchants visiting local marketplaces would ship small bunches to overseas markets, marking the beginning of the banana’s place in the global trade market. The banana was first introduced to New York in 1804 where curious customers were sold them as a novelty fruit....
Basil – King of Herbs – A Kitchen Essential.

Basil – King of Herbs – A Kitchen Essential.

Basil (scientifically known as Ocimum basilicum)  is one of the most frequently used herbs in kitchens throughout the world. It has many culinary applications, from sauces, to soups ,salads and desserts this fascinating herb adds depth to a variety of dishes across the whole menu. The herb is highly fragrant and used for seasoning. The leaves are most commonly green, some varieties have red or purple hints. It looks similar to mint, which is no coincidence as they belong to the same family. There over 60 different varieties each with their own characteristics. Sweet basil has a rich aroma and is bright, varieties such as lemon basil, cinnamon basil and anise basil, each have subtle taste similarities which is reflected in the name. Origins of Basil. Basil is believed to have it’s origins in India, it has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years and is used throughout the world. Ancient records dating to 807 A.D indicate that it may have originated further east than India, in the Hunan region of China. The ease of which basil can be grown indoors has seen it migrate further and further west. The word has Greek origins, coming from βασιλικόν φυτόν (basilikón phutón), meaning royal/kingly plant. It is often called the king of herbs and the royal herb. Basil Varieties. There are lots of varieties of this herb, and several related species and hybrids which are also called basil. In Italian cookery the variety used is often called sweet or Genovese basil, where as in Asian cookery Thai, Lemon and Holy Basil are commonly used. When using basil in recipes, it is generally added...
Avocado – The South American Super Food

Avocado – The South American Super Food

The avocado has been part of the diet in Mexico for a long time. Archaeological evidence traces the consumption of the avocado in central Mexico almost 10,000 years. In this period people were simply gathering wild avocados. Research suggests that the cultivation of avocados began around 5,000 years ago. Domesticated avocado trees were grown by Mesoamerican tribes such as the Incas, the Olmecs and the Mayans. It was 16th century Spanish explorers who were the first Europeans to eat avocados. Avocados had spread from Mexico through Central America by the time of the Spanish conquests. Avocados were brought to Europe by the Spanish, from there they were sold to other European countries including the U.K. Avocados were first grown in Florida by Henry Perrine in 1833. It was not until the early 20th century that they became a commercial crop, as they gained popularity in California, Florida and Hawaii. They gained more widespread popularity in the U.S during the 1950’s when people started putting them in salads. Avocado (b)all(s) in the name. The name avocado comes from the Aztec word “ahuácatl” which means testicle. This could be due to the shape or that the Aztecs believed it to have aphrodisiac properties. The Spanish then evolved “ahuácatl” to “aguacate” and eventually “avogato” before becoming avocado. The fruit was first known as an “Avagato pear” in English, due to the shape resembling that of a pear. It would later be known as an “alligator pear” because of the alligator like skin. The term avocado would later become the common term. The origins of the word  guacamole translates to testicle sauce or soup. Guacamole derives from the Nahautl Indian word, “ahuacamolli”...
Curds and Croust – Cornish Cheese

Curds and Croust – Cornish Cheese

We are very excited to be adding another fantastic Cornish product to our range, Curds and Croust are a delightful selection of local cheeses. Based in Redruth the team behind Curds and Croust led by master cheese maker Martin Gaylard, make an artisan range of hand crafted soft cheeses. Each of their four cheeses is made using Cornish milk, that is sourced within 30 miles of the dairy. This delightful range will work wonderfully as part of a Cornish cheese board and would compliment many of the artisan products in our Plough to Plate range. All of these cheeses are available in rounds of 1kg and 165g, making them perfect for retail and food service. The Curds and Croust Cornish cheese range. Miss Wenna – a Cornish brie. Made using Cornish milk to produce a creamy brie. This cheese is smooth and mellow, with a wafer thin rind and a subtle aroma. Boy Laity – a Cornish Camembert. A traditional mould ripened Camembert that is rich, bold and buttery in texture. The Truffler – a Cornish truffle brie. A delightful combination of creamy Cornish brie and the earthy characteristics of truffles. Russet Squire – Cider washed cheese.  This cheese is bathed in Cornish cider to give the rind an unique russet look to the rind, making it possibly the most decadent cheese in the range. (Coming soon). Curds and Croust? When making cheese the milk is separated into solids known as curds and liquid called whey. Curds are white, and have a slippery gelatinous feel. In the early stages of cheese making they are very acidic and it is during the lactic fermentation...
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...