Kale – A British Favourite

Kale – A British Favourite

A regular in our fridges, Kale has become the mainstay of many British menus. The term ‘Kale’ refers to a cultivar of the Brassica Oleracea Species, however it is more closely related to the wild cabbage than to other cultivated members of the brassica family, such as Calabrese, Cauliflower and Cabbages. Varieties of Kale are classified not only by the colour of their leaves, but also by their leaf shape and stem height. The most recognizable variety, Green Curly or ‘Scots Kale’ is followed closely in popularity by Black Kale (often referred to as ‘Cavelo Nero’ or ‘Tuscan Cabbage’). In 2015 supermarket giant Waitrose recorded a 343% increase on the previous year’s sales of Cavelo Nero. Comparatively, during the same time period, spinach achieved a mere 19% increase. Originating from Asia Minor; the westernmost point of Asia, now known as Turkey, Kale is thought to have been brought to Europe by Celtic wanderers in around 600 BC. In more recent years the leafy green has been championed by British farmers due to its hardy nature. The annual crop has proved resilient in winter and can survive in temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius. The plant is also well suited to a variety of soil compositions, but thrives in the mineral rich soil found in the east of England. Throughout the UK growing season (June to March) the majority of British kale is produced in Lincolnshire, however outside this season it is readily available from European Growers. The composition of Kale is primarily water, carbohydrates, protein and fats. The vegetable also contains, per 100g, more than four times of...
Cherries – luxury seasonal fruit

Cherries – luxury seasonal fruit

Fantastic quality English cherries have been arriving in our fridges in recent weeks. The cherry was first grown in the UK at Teynham in Kent, by order of Henry VIII, who tasted them in Flanders. The word cherry derives from French cerise, Spanish cereza, all originating from the Latin cerasum, both refereing to an ancient Greek region near Giresun, Turkey, which is where it is believed the first cherries were exported from, to Europe. What are Cherries? Cherries, like plums are fleshy drupe or stone fruits of the genus Prunus. Many cherry varieties are members of the subgenus Cerasus, which is distinguished by having smooth fruit with a weak or no groove along one side. It is much easier to divide cherries into two types the sweet cherry and the sour cherry. The sweet cherry is usually larger than the sour variety, and are fantastic eaten fresh or when cooked. The sour cherry is rounder than the heart shaped sweet cherry. The flesh is much softer and are not suitable for eating raw. The sour cherry is normally cooked with sugar to create pies, preserves and relishes. Where do Cherries come from? In 2014 Turkey was the largest producer of sweet cherries, world production was 2.25 million tonnes for which Turkey produced 20%. Other large producers were the U.S.A and Iran. Sour cherry production in 2014 was 1.36 million tonnes, with Russia, Ukraine and Turkey being the largest producers. 2014 was a record year for British cherry production, with 3,500 tonnes produced, this was more than double the previous year. English cherries getting better every year. Traditional cherry orchards in Kent were phased out during...
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...