Blackcurrants

Blackcurrants

  Blackcurrants    Photo © Evie Saffron Strands

Blackcurrants

Photo © Evie Saffron Strands

Blackcurrants

 

A cool region plant, the Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) thrives in the British climate.  Much more acidic than white or red currants, it is closer in this regard to its relation the Gooseberry.  Its intense aroma comes from the many spicy terpenes, fruity esters and a sulphur compound that is also to be found in gooseberries, green tea and Sauvignon Blanc wines.  

 

The Blackcurrant’s resinous character needs to be tamed by briefly cooking with sugar and a little water to reveal its qualities.  The Blackcurrant is not only versatile and delicious but exceptionally rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.  Its strength of flavour means a little goes a long way.  Blackcurrants also freeze extremely well.

 

The leaves of the blackcurrant shouldn’t be overlooked.  They are highly aromatic and can be infused in a syrup or a custard to impart a flavour which Kitty Travers of La Grotta Ices interprets as “white acid drops”.  

 

Their season is relatively short but you can normally expect to see blackcurrants from early- to mid-July and into August.  The French value them mainly for the making of their Crème de Cassis cordial – essential for the white wine aperitif, Kir.  Much of the UK Blackcurrant crop is harvested for a well-known sweet, sticky blackcurrant drink but we buy ours from our favourite fruit farm in Kent.  As well as selling them by the punnet, they go into our London Fermentary healthy, tangy Blackcurrant Water Kefir.

 

Blackcurrants pair well with mint, anise, chocolate and coffee flavours.  They respond exceptionally well to cream.  High in natural pectin, they are easy to preserve and make a deeply flavoured syrup, jelly (good stirred into meat juices) or jam; a highly aromatic sorbet and a luscious ice cream; outstanding with a creamy syllabub or a posset; a crumble or pie, on their own or teamed with pears; and they’re a wonderful addition to a Summer Pudding with raspberries - Nigel Slater champions a Blackcurrant and Blackberry version of Summer Pudding, with the proviso that plenty of cream be deployed. 

 

  Blackcurrant blossom    Photo © Evie Saffron Strands

Blackcurrant blossom

Photo © Evie Saffron Strands

Monthly news - July 2018

Monthly news - July 2018

  Percocha peaches Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Percocha peaches Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

July

It took a while to make an appearance but finally, in the last week of June, summer arrived and with it the glorious fruits of summer.  July is the time to make the most of these vitamin and mineral-rich seasonal fruits by eating them now at their peak or preserving them for later in the year.

 

For the month of July, here is the key short-season produce you can expect to find at Puntarelle & Co along with all the usual staples:

 

English Soft fruits have been loving the heat and we are lucky to have hand-picked berries from John, our Apple and Pear grower in Kent.  Both  Strawberries   and Raspberries are fabulous this year.  Locally-grown English Raspberries, in particular, are unbeatable for flavour.  We use these Kent-grown berries in our London Fermentary Kent Raspberry Water Kefir.  We also get Blackberries from the same farm in Kent. Large, plump and deeply-flavoured, they are bursting with juice.  It’s proving to be a great year for British Blackcurrants too.  Gooseberries should be around until mid-July and British Cherries are starting to arrive, taking over from the lovely Provence/French, Italian and Spanish ones we have had for a few weeks now.

  Summer Peaches Puntarelle & Co

Summer Peaches Puntarelle & Co

We are loving our fruits from France, Sicily and other parts of Italy this year.  They are all in their sun-ripened glory in July.  We have Peaches  - yellow, white, blood, flat and percocha.  Nectarines too.  All ripe and ready to eat or cook with.  A highlight of the month of July for London Fermentary is our Peach Water Kefir infused with lemon verbena and raspberry.  Apricots  are arriving from Southern Italy, they are small but have good flavour. We are expecting to change over to French (hopefully, Bergeron) 

Melons are popular at Puntarelle in this warm weather that encourages us to eat more cooling fruits.  We are getting our Green Fioroni Figs from Puglia at the moment - large and very juicy.

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English Peas

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

On the vegetable side, the highlights for July are English Peas . The harvests are as sweet and plentiful as they were last year.  English Broad Beans  are excellent this year too.   We will move into the British Sweetcorn season in July, taking over from the Continental corn cobs.  We look forward to its arrival as the British is usually the best of the crop.  All British grown herbs are in their prime too!

We expect to get particularly good sun-ripened Italian Ox-Heart Tomatoes (Cuore di Bue) and Vesuvius tomatoes, both varieties are meaty, juicy and very delicious. 

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Vesuvius Tomatoes

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

London Fermentary News

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On the London Fermentary side of our business, we are delighted to announce our first Inspirational Fermentation Course was completed with great success this summer. The results were exceptional.  Thank you to all who attended. It was such a pleasure to teach our first group of talented and creative people.  Dates for the next course are set for September 2018.  Visit www.londonfermentary.com to book your place (only 5 spaces still available at time of writing).


This is an easy recipe from Evie’s blog for turning ripe cherries into a more special dessert.  

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Cherries with almonds & Sabayon

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Sabayon is so easy to make.  It takes only 2 minutes of whisking with an electric whisk if you want a warm frothy sauce to eat immediately, 5 minutes to produce a 'creamier' one. If you want to make it up to an hour ahead (the one in the photograph above), you just need to keep whisking it off the heat until it has cooled.  This stops it separating before you get to eat it.

Cherries with almonds & Sabayon sauce
(Serves 4)

300g cherries
2 tablespoons elderflower cordial
1-2 teaspoons caster sugar
4-5 almonds

For the Sabayon:
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon caster sugar

Melons

Melons

  Melons    Photo © Puntarelle & Co       Melons      Melons are fruits of the  Cucumis melo  and closely related to the cucumber.  The exception is the Watermelon ( Citrullus lanatus ) which is a scrambling and trailing vine eaten by the Egyptians for some 5,000 years.  In its wild form the Watermelon is very bitter.  Here I want to talk mainly about Melons.  We’ll save Watermelons for a later day.     The melon plant was cultivated in Asia and India and, by the first century, had arrived in the Mediterranean area.  There are many varieties but the most common fall into two categories: ‘Summer Melons’, which appear in early summer and are highly aromatic and perishable – the Cantaloupe, Charentaise and Ogen melon are examples; and ‘Winter Melons’ which are less perfumed and keep longer – the Honeydew, for instance.  The Charentais, with its smooth grey-green rind and highly aromatic dark orange flesh is arguably the best-flavoured melon of all.  The Cantaloupes, also known as Muskmelons, have a creamy-white rind, sometimes streaked with yellow, and a firmer flesh which can be very sweet when they are fully ripe.      Right now, in the last few days of June, we have orange-fleshed Cantaloupes from Italy.  We also have smooth-skinned Honeymoon melons, which are an early ripening variety of the Honeydew.  We have plenty of thirst-quenching Watermelons from Sicily too – perfect for cooling down in this warm spell.        Good melons should seem heavy for their size and, when ripe, will be slightly soft at the stalk end.  The seeds of the melon are edible.  Scoop out the seeds, dry them and roast in a medium-hot oven.  Melon with Bayonne or Parma Ham is a classic pairing; their sweet, perfumed flesh is a good choice for making into a water ice; try halving a melon, deseeding and filling the cavity with raspberries and a tablespoon of sweet wine, like Sauternes; make a melon and ginger jam (with sugar, lemon and preserved ginger); or a melon rind pickle (with sugar, vinegar, lemon, cinnamon and cloves) – one last mention for the Watermelon because this pickle is particularly good made with watermelon rind.   

Melons

Photo © Puntarelle & Co

 

Melons

 

Melons are fruits of the Cucumis melo and closely related to the cucumber.  The exception is the Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) which is a scrambling and trailing vine eaten by the Egyptians for some 5,000 years.  In its wild form the Watermelon is very bitter.  Here I want to talk mainly about Melons.  We’ll save Watermelons for a later day.

 

The melon plant was cultivated in Asia and India and, by the first century, had arrived in the Mediterranean area.  There are many varieties but the most common fall into two categories: ‘Summer Melons’, which appear in early summer and are highly aromatic and perishable – the Cantaloupe, Charentaise and Ogen melon are examples; and ‘Winter Melons’ which are less perfumed and keep longer – the Honeydew, for instance.  The Charentais, with its smooth grey-green rind and highly aromatic dark orange flesh is arguably the best-flavoured melon of all.  The Cantaloupes, also known as Muskmelons, have a creamy-white rind, sometimes streaked with yellow, and a firmer flesh which can be very sweet when they are fully ripe. 

 

Right now, in the last few days of June, we have orange-fleshed Cantaloupes from Italy.  We also have smooth-skinned Honeymoon melons, which are an early ripening variety of the Honeydew.  We have plenty of thirst-quenching Watermelons from Sicily too – perfect for cooling down in this warm spell.   

 

Good melons should seem heavy for their size and, when ripe, will be slightly soft at the stalk end.  The seeds of the melon are edible.  Scoop out the seeds, dry them and roast in a medium-hot oven.  Melon with Bayonne or Parma Ham is a classic pairing; their sweet, perfumed flesh is a good choice for making into a water ice; try halving a melon, deseeding and filling the cavity with raspberries and a tablespoon of sweet wine, like Sauternes; make a melon and ginger jam (with sugar, lemon and preserved ginger); or a melon rind pickle (with sugar, vinegar, lemon, cinnamon and cloves) – one last mention for the Watermelon because this pickle is particularly good made with watermelon rind.

 

  Sicilian watermelons     Photo © Puntarelle & Co

Sicilian watermelons

Photo © Puntarelle & Co

Gooseberries

Gooseberries

  Gooseberries    Photo © Evie Saffron Strands

Gooseberries

Photo © Evie Saffron Strands

Gooseberries

Currants and Gooseberries are all species of the genus Ribes and are cold climate fruits, growing most happily in Northern Europe and North America.  Gooseberries grow best in cool, damp conditions so the UK is excellent for them.  They are normally the first fruits of Spring and the bushes can remain productive into August.  The first fruits are sharp, hard and green and need plenty of sugar, but it’s then that their unique flavour is most pronounced.  If you want a sweeter gooseberry, wait a few weeks for the green globes to mellow to a pale green/gold or go for a red variety like Pax.  Given a bit of heat and sun, later in the season you can reduce the amount of sugar you need to add to them.  

 

This week we have our first gooseberry harvest from our preferred farm in Kent so you can see for yourself how they develop as the season progresses.

 

Gooseberries pair wonderfully with elderflowers, imparting a muscat flavour, and the Elder usually produces its flowers at just the right time for the first gooseberry harvests.  Just add a flower head to the poaching pan.  The fruits are packed with vitamin C, and are rich in pectin, so they are excellent for jam-making.  Made into a sharp compote or chutney they are excellent for cutting oily fish such as mackerel, or fatty meats like pork or goose.  The possibilities for puddings are many, from crumbles, tarts, jams, jellies, syllabubs and fools to sorbets, parfaits and ice creams.  They make a fine Eton Mess-like pudding and are gorgeous baked into a buttery-pastry pie.  Keep in mind that Gooseberries love cream.

  Gooseberries and Elderflowers    Photo © Evie Saffron Strands

Gooseberries and Elderflowers

Photo © Evie Saffron Strands

Raspberries

Raspberries

  Raspberries    Photo © Evie Saffron Strands       Raspberries      The  Raspberry  is a delicate fruit which, once ripe, doesn’t take kindly to being kept waiting.  It’s sensitive to damp warmth which can quickly turn the berries to mildewed wretchedness.  Sometimes, in just-picked fruit, to the untrained eye, there is no evidence of its presence but once that musty flavour hits the tongue it’s a taste never forgotten – by me anyway.  Grown well, the berries are sweet/sharp, bursting with juicy wine-like flavours and carrying floral aromas ranging from rose to violets.  We like to bide our time and buy our raspberries direct from our favourite grower in Kent.  This way we know they have been carefully raised and harvested, and time from farm to plate is kept to a minimum.  We use these raspberries in our much loved   London Fermentary    Kent   Raspberry Water Kefir  too.       All berries which grow on canes – raspberry, blackberry, Loganberry etc – are members of the genus  Rubus , part of the rose family.  The delicacy of the fruit belies the fact that cultivated raspberries derive from wild plants that thrive as far north as Alaska.  This explains why cultivated raspberries from northern climes, like Scotland grow so well and are rightly prized.  The British raspberry crop is only just getting going but the season is surprisingly long.  Southern-grown berries from summer-fruiting canes peter out but the Scottish season takes overs.  Then there are the autumn-fruiting varieties too which can mean British raspberries are around until well into autumn.     Raspberries are a fruit best eaten raw, though they will stand a little warmth to bring out their juices.  If you keep them in the fridge, it’s important to allow them to reach room temperature to bring out their flavour before eating.  They pair wonderfully well with warm baked peaches. Cream is very much a friend.  If you have a peach, raspberries and cream you have the essentials for a Peach Melba.  A Victoria Sponge Sandwich cake eaten outside on a warm day is quintessentially English.  Sandwiching the sponge layers with raspberries and cream makes it more special than using raspberry jam.  A few drops of rosewater can raise the flavour of less perfumed berries - delicious with meringue and cream, turned into a summer berry Pavlova or a variant of Eton Mess.  If you need to, the berries freeze well and, whizzed up from frozen in a food processor, make an easy sorbet.  As an alternative, you can puree the raw berries with sugar (around 3:1 fruit:sugar) to make a syrup to ripple through vanilla ice cream.     

Raspberries

Photo © Evie Saffron Strands

 

Raspberries

 

The Raspberry is a delicate fruit which, once ripe, doesn’t take kindly to being kept waiting.  It’s sensitive to damp warmth which can quickly turn the berries to mildewed wretchedness.  Sometimes, in just-picked fruit, to the untrained eye, there is no evidence of its presence but once that musty flavour hits the tongue it’s a taste never forgotten – by me anyway.  Grown well, the berries are sweet/sharp, bursting with juicy wine-like flavours and carrying floral aromas ranging from rose to violets.  We like to bide our time and buy our raspberries direct from our favourite grower in Kent.  This way we know they have been carefully raised and harvested, and time from farm to plate is kept to a minimum.  We use these raspberries in our much loved London Fermentary Kent Raspberry Water Kefir too.  

 

All berries which grow on canes – raspberry, blackberry, Loganberry etc – are members of the genus Rubus, part of the rose family.  The delicacy of the fruit belies the fact that cultivated raspberries derive from wild plants that thrive as far north as Alaska.  This explains why cultivated raspberries from northern climes, like Scotland grow so well and are rightly prized.  The British raspberry crop is only just getting going but the season is surprisingly long.  Southern-grown berries from summer-fruiting canes peter out but the Scottish season takes overs.  Then there are the autumn-fruiting varieties too which can mean British raspberries are around until well into autumn.

 

Raspberries are a fruit best eaten raw, though they will stand a little warmth to bring out their juices.  If you keep them in the fridge, it’s important to allow them to reach room temperature to bring out their flavour before eating.  They pair wonderfully well with warm baked peaches. Cream is very much a friend.  If you have a peach, raspberries and cream you have the essentials for a Peach Melba.  A Victoria Sponge Sandwich cake eaten outside on a warm day is quintessentially English.  Sandwiching the sponge layers with raspberries and cream makes it more special than using raspberry jam.  A few drops of rosewater can raise the flavour of less perfumed berries - delicious with meringue and cream, turned into a summer berry Pavlova or a variant of Eton Mess.  If you need to, the berries freeze well and, whizzed up from frozen in a food processor, make an easy sorbet.  As an alternative, you can puree the raw berries with sugar (around 3:1 fruit:sugar) to make a syrup to ripple through vanilla ice cream.  

 

June 2018 Seasonal News

June 2018 Seasonal News

June

  English Strawberries     Photo © Puntarelle & Co

English Strawberries

Photo © Puntarelle & Co

From July 2018, after over a full calendar year in the original style, we will be changing the format of our Monthly Seasonal Produce News to introduce a structured, interactive presentation.  But for the month of June, here is the key short-season produce you can expect to find at Puntarelle & Co along with all the usual staples:

English Produce

Fresh Peas

The first Broad Beans

Spring Onions

Spinach

Coriander

Strawberries

Raspberries

Gooseberries

  Italian Borlotti Beans  &  French Corn     Photo © Puntarelle&Co

Italian Borlotti Beans  &  French Corn

Photo © Puntarelle&Co

Italian Produce

Green Figs from Sicily

Crunchy Romano Courgettes

The first Peaches and Nectarines

White Peaches

Flat Peaches

Ruby Apricots

Green & Yellow  Beans

Ligurian Basil

Datterino & Costaluto tomatoes

Melons

The first Borlotti Beans

Photo © Puntarelle & Co

 Peaches at Puntarelle&Co 

Peaches at Puntarelle&Co 

 

French Produce

Corn-on-the-Cob

Cherries

Apricots

White Peaches

 

 

Spanish Produce

Apricots

Cherries

White Peaches

Corn-on-the-Cob

 


 London Fermentary Inspirational Fermentation Course 

London Fermentary Inspirational Fermentation Course 

London Fermentary News:

We have two pieces of news on our London Fermentary products this month.  

 

Firstly, from Saturday 9 June we will have our ‘Kegerator’ operational so you will be able to buy your favourite Water Kefirs in 1 litre refillable bottles.

 

Our second piece of news is that we have announced dates for our first Inspirational Fermentation course – 12, 19 & 26 June.  Held over three weeks, one 3-hour session per week, this Inspirational Fermentation Course is designed to give participants a good understanding of the fermentation process.  Link to our London Fermentary Events page to get inspired. 

 

  Baked Apricots with marzipan filling & almond crumble    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Baked Apricots with marzipan filling & almond crumble

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

When writing last week on the subject of Apricots - which are now arriving in greater quantities and better quality - we mentioned this recipe from one of our favourite food books Honey & Co: The Baking Book by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich.  Here is the recipe in more detail:

 

Baked Apricots with marzipan filling & almond crumble

(Serves 6)

 

12 ripe apricots

120g marzipan

60g soft butter

100g demerara sugar

 

For the crumble:

100g almonds, roughly chopped

20g sesame seeds

a pinch of fennel seeds

a pinch of ground mahleb or cardamom

a pinch of sea salt

50g runny honey

1 tsp oil

 

Cream to serve

 

Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan).

Cut the marzipan into 12 pieces.  Partially halve the fruits and remove the stones.  Stuff each fruit with a slice of marzipan and reclose it.  Brush each with soft butter and roll in demerara sugar before roasting for around 10 minutes until soft.  Mix the crumble topping ingredients and spread it thinly on a baking tray.  Roast in the oven until crisp.  Serve two apricots per person, with cream (their suggestion is for a 50/50 mix of double and soured cream whipped with a little brandy) and scatter some crumble over the top.   

 

Apricots

Apricots

  Ruby Apricots    Photo © Puntarelle&Co Ltd        Apricots      The Apricot tree blossoms early, soon after the almond, which means that the flowers are very often caught by frost.  The Apricot is a difficult fruit to grow in the UK as the fruits also need to ripen on the tree.  Not that some fruit farmers in southern England don’t try – apricot trees have been cultivated here since the mid-16th century - but success remains a hit and miss affair, subject to the vagaries of our weather.  This is a shame because two of the best varieties of Apricot – Blenheim and Moorpark – were originally bred in England.  In favourable years, the English-grown crops can be good but most often we have to treat them as cookers.       For Apricots that need very little embellishment, we turn to the warmth of Italy and France, though varieties are limited.  It’s possible to bring out the floral, tropical flavours even in early fruits if you treat them right.  Early crops are best turned into jam, compote, sorbet or pureed for ice cream.  They can also add a lovely sweet-sharpness to savoury stews.  By the end of June Apricots from southern Europe can usually be eaten just as they come.  Generally, the stronger the colour, the sweeter the fruit, and the simpler their treatment should be.     Apricots have an affinity with almonds.  If you crack open an apricot stone you’ll find within a small almond-like kernel, or noyaux, which you can add to your recipe for a touch of bitter almond flavour.  Don’t overdo it, though, as the noyaux contains amygdalin, a compound which converts to cyanide in the body.  Roasting the kernel first extracts this compound.  Green Almonds are around at the same time as Apricots so try poaching apricots with a little sugar and a vanilla pod until soft but not collapsed and serve scattered with slivers of green almonds; make an Apricot Tart or Galette; with early fruits, make Apricot Jam, for sure; stuff them by halving and pitting the fruit, place cut-side-up in a dish and scatter an almond crumble topping over them before roasting on a medium heat; or make the delicious recipe for  Baked Apricots with marzipan filling and almond crumble  from  Honey&Co: The Baking Book  – partially halve and pit the fruits, stuff with a slice of marzipan, brush them with soft butter and roll in demerara sugar before roasting until soft.  Honey&Co make an almond crumble topping flavoured with mahleb (a spice made from cherry kernels), spread it thinly on a baking tray and roast until crisp.  Put the two elements together and serve with cream (their suggestion is for brandy cream).   

Ruby Apricots

Photo © Puntarelle&Co Ltd

 

Apricots

 

The Apricot tree blossoms early, soon after the almond, which means that the flowers are very often caught by frost.  The Apricot is a difficult fruit to grow in the UK as the fruits also need to ripen on the tree.  Not that some fruit farmers in southern England don’t try – apricot trees have been cultivated here since the mid-16th century - but success remains a hit and miss affair, subject to the vagaries of our weather.  This is a shame because two of the best varieties of Apricot – Blenheim and Moorpark – were originally bred in England.  In favourable years, the English-grown crops can be good but most often we have to treat them as cookers.  

 

For Apricots that need very little embellishment, we turn to the warmth of Italy and France, though varieties are limited.  It’s possible to bring out the floral, tropical flavours even in early fruits if you treat them right.  Early crops are best turned into jam, compote, sorbet or pureed for ice cream.  They can also add a lovely sweet-sharpness to savoury stews.  By the end of June Apricots from southern Europe can usually be eaten just as they come.  Generally, the stronger the colour, the sweeter the fruit, and the simpler their treatment should be.

 

Apricots have an affinity with almonds.  If you crack open an apricot stone you’ll find within a small almond-like kernel, or noyaux, which you can add to your recipe for a touch of bitter almond flavour.  Don’t overdo it, though, as the noyaux contains amygdalin, a compound which converts to cyanide in the body.  Roasting the kernel first extracts this compound.  Green Almonds are around at the same time as Apricots so try poaching apricots with a little sugar and a vanilla pod until soft but not collapsed and serve scattered with slivers of green almonds; make an Apricot Tart or Galette; with early fruits, make Apricot Jam, for sure; stuff them by halving and pitting the fruit, place cut-side-up in a dish and scatter an almond crumble topping over them before roasting on a medium heat; or make the delicious recipe for Baked Apricots with marzipan filling and almond crumble from Honey&Co: The Baking Book – partially halve and pit the fruits, stuff with a slice of marzipan, brush them with soft butter and roll in demerara sugar before roasting until soft.  Honey&Co make an almond crumble topping flavoured with mahleb (a spice made from cherry kernels), spread it thinly on a baking tray and roast until crisp.  Put the two elements together and serve with cream (their suggestion is for brandy cream).

 

  Baked Apricots with marzipan filling & almond crumble    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    

Baked Apricots with marzipan filling & almond crumble

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Strawberries

Strawberries

  Strawberries    Photo ©Puntarelle & Co        Strawberries   Almost all modern cultivated  Strawberry  varieties derive from two American species,  Fragaria virginiana  from North America and  Fragaria chiloensis  from South America.  It wasn’t until the plants were cross-polinated in France in the 18th century that the large, commercially-grown, strawberries we know today became popular, supplanting the European Wild Strawberry varieties we had enjoyed here.  While some recent introductions may be viewed as a hybridisation too far – bred for resilience, size and sweetness at the cost of flavour – with others it’s not difficult to see why they were favoured over the small wild berries.  The larger, sweeter cultivated varieties can usually be kept at least a couple of days.  The small European wild strawberry,  Fragaria Vesca , or, as the French call it,  fraise de bois  still has its place but is best eaten very soon after picking before its intense fragrance dissipates.   We get some early varieties from France and Italy, notably the French  Gariguette  which we will have again this week, though at a more reasonable price than at the start of harvest.    The early summer English outdoor-grown fruit, ripened by the sun, are worth waiting for.  This week, the third week of May, we have the first arrival from our preferred farmer in Kent.  The variety is  Elizabeth , which will be followed by  Jubilee  over the next few weeks.  It’s hard to beat the simple pairing of Strawberries and cream.  Strawberry ice cream is divine.  Try slicing a strawberry into a glass of red or white wine.  Add a few berries to poached rhubarb or try pairing strawberries with a few rose petals or leaves of lemon verbena.  If you want something a little different, orange zest, balsamic vinegar or black pepper all complement strawberries.  As the season progresses and prices come down, they also make an incredibly fragrant jam.  Be sure to add lemon juice for a good set as the pectin levels in strawberries is very low.   

Strawberries

Photo ©Puntarelle & Co

 

Strawberries

Almost all modern cultivated Strawberry varieties derive from two American species, Fragaria virginiana from North America and Fragaria chiloensis from South America.  It wasn’t until the plants were cross-polinated in France in the 18th century that the large, commercially-grown, strawberries we know today became popular, supplanting the European Wild Strawberry varieties we had enjoyed here.  While some recent introductions may be viewed as a hybridisation too far – bred for resilience, size and sweetness at the cost of flavour – with others it’s not difficult to see why they were favoured over the small wild berries.  The larger, sweeter cultivated varieties can usually be kept at least a couple of days.  The small European wild strawberry, Fragaria Vesca, or, as the French call it, fraise de bois still has its place but is best eaten very soon after picking before its intense fragrance dissipates. 

We get some early varieties from France and Italy, notably the French Gariguette which we will have again this week, though at a more reasonable price than at the start of harvest.    The early summer English outdoor-grown fruit, ripened by the sun, are worth waiting for.  This week, the third week of May, we have the first arrival from our preferred farmer in Kent.  The variety is Elizabeth, which will be followed by Jubilee over the next few weeks.

It’s hard to beat the simple pairing of Strawberries and cream.  Strawberry ice cream is divine.  Try slicing a strawberry into a glass of red or white wine.  Add a few berries to poached rhubarb or try pairing strawberries with a few rose petals or leaves of lemon verbena.  If you want something a little different, orange zest, balsamic vinegar or black pepper all complement strawberries.  As the season progresses and prices come down, they also make an incredibly fragrant jam.  Be sure to add lemon juice for a good set as the pectin levels in strawberries is very low.

 

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Tarragon

Tarragon

  Tarragon    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       Tarragon       Tarragon  (or Estragon),  Artemisia dracunculus , is a native of western and northern Asia and a member of the lettuce family.  There are two varieties of this herb – the wild one that’s often called Russian Tarragon and which has quite a harsh flavour; and French Tarragon, which is more delicate and has a distinct anise aroma.  The French variety has more uses in the kitchen.       Tarragon combined with chervil, parsley and chives makes the French classic  fines herbes  mix.  It has many uses in French cuisine, from flavouring sauces to adding to chicken, fish and egg dishes.  A simple omelette aux fines herbes is a beautiful thing.  Tarragon is the essential herb to create the classic béarnaise sauce.  Tarragon compliments asparagus when paired with eggs and it brings a welcome bitter anise note to temper the sweetness of both peas and carrots.  Try slow-cooking courgettes in olive oil and butter until soft and mushy, add chopped tarragon and season – delicious just with bread or served with lentils.  Or soften a chopped shallot in butter, add sliced mushrooms and cook to brown, then finish with a little extra butter, a splash of cream and some chopped tarragon. Pile onto toast.       Fatty fish, particularly salmon, and sea trout, are good with a creamy tarragon sauce.  Melted butter scented with tarragon poured over Lobster is a great simple way to serve a luxurious ingredient.     Georgian and Caucasian food is becoming more appreciated in London of late, thanks in large part to the work of food writer Olia Hercules.  There is a distinct fondness for the herb tarragon, or  tarkhuna  which is also the name of a tarragon- flavoured soft drink of the region.  Tarragon, onion and eggs (and sometimes greens) are combined as a filling for a leavened yogurt dough pie.  There’s a stew of lamb or veal, punchy with tarragon, called  Chakapuli ; and there’s  Kharcho,  a stew made from chicken which is fragrant with tarragon.  You can make a cordial from lemon, tarragon and cucumber too – maybe a bit more interesting than lemonade.     And don’t just think of tarragon for savoury dishes.  The herb brings a wonderful anise flavour to nectarines, peaches and plums.  Oven-bake the fruits, sliced in half and stone removed, in a little sugar syrup and a few leaves of tarragon, for an easy pudding.  Or make a tarragon-infused custard for ice cream and fold through a puree of peach or nectarine.     You can preserve any leftover tarragon by hanging it up to dry, or you can preserve it as Tarragon butter.  Simply chop the herb and add to creamed butter, roll into a log and freeze for using by the slice as you need it – maybe on a juicy steak or a fillet of fish.       As I write this in late spring you’ll find the best tarragon is coming through our arch right now – and, of course, we use it in our London Fermentary ferments.   

Tarragon

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Tarragon

 

Tarragon (or Estragon), Artemisia dracunculus, is a native of western and northern Asia and a member of the lettuce family.  There are two varieties of this herb – the wild one that’s often called Russian Tarragon and which has quite a harsh flavour; and French Tarragon, which is more delicate and has a distinct anise aroma.  The French variety has more uses in the kitchen.  

 

Tarragon combined with chervil, parsley and chives makes the French classic fines herbes mix.  It has many uses in French cuisine, from flavouring sauces to adding to chicken, fish and egg dishes.  A simple omelette aux fines herbes is a beautiful thing.  Tarragon is the essential herb to create the classic béarnaise sauce.  Tarragon compliments asparagus when paired with eggs and it brings a welcome bitter anise note to temper the sweetness of both peas and carrots.  Try slow-cooking courgettes in olive oil and butter until soft and mushy, add chopped tarragon and season – delicious just with bread or served with lentils.  Or soften a chopped shallot in butter, add sliced mushrooms and cook to brown, then finish with a little extra butter, a splash of cream and some chopped tarragon. Pile onto toast.  

 

Fatty fish, particularly salmon, and sea trout, are good with a creamy tarragon sauce.  Melted butter scented with tarragon poured over Lobster is a great simple way to serve a luxurious ingredient.

 

Georgian and Caucasian food is becoming more appreciated in London of late, thanks in large part to the work of food writer Olia Hercules.  There is a distinct fondness for the herb tarragon, or tarkhuna which is also the name of a tarragon- flavoured soft drink of the region.  Tarragon, onion and eggs (and sometimes greens) are combined as a filling for a leavened yogurt dough pie.  There’s a stew of lamb or veal, punchy with tarragon, called Chakapuli; and there’s Kharcho, a stew made from chicken which is fragrant with tarragon.  You can make a cordial from lemon, tarragon and cucumber too – maybe a bit more interesting than lemonade.

 

And don’t just think of tarragon for savoury dishes.  The herb brings a wonderful anise flavour to nectarines, peaches and plums.  Oven-bake the fruits, sliced in half and stone removed, in a little sugar syrup and a few leaves of tarragon, for an easy pudding.  Or make a tarragon-infused custard for ice cream and fold through a puree of peach or nectarine.

 

You can preserve any leftover tarragon by hanging it up to dry, or you can preserve it as Tarragon butter.  Simply chop the herb and add to creamed butter, roll into a log and freeze for using by the slice as you need it – maybe on a juicy steak or a fillet of fish.  

 

As I write this in late spring you’ll find the best tarragon is coming through our arch right now – and, of course, we use it in our London Fermentary ferments.

 

  Tarragon    Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd

Tarragon

Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd

May 2018  Seasonal News

May 2018 Seasonal News

  English Asparagus     Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       MAY       This time last year we were talking of having had English Asparagus at the beginning of April, only for it then to be hit by late frosts.  This year we collected our first Kent-grown crop last week.  Despite it feeling late, it was around St George’s Day which is the traditional time for starting to cut the crop.  It’s hard to resist people’s desire for earlier harvests but nature knows best and this year’s first cut of English Asparagus from our preferred grower was definitely worth the wait.       April passed in the UK feeling very similar to March.  Save for a few days of warmth mid-month, conditions have been unseasonably cold in most of Europe delaying spring planting.  Italy did provide us with Broad Beans, Peas and Cucumbers; France delivered Wet Garlic and Fraise Clery Strawberries; and the UK produced Jersey Royals, Wild Garlic, Sprouting Broccoli, field-grown Rhubarb and the first good Asparagus.  A burst of sun arrived in the form of Mangoes from India, including Alphonso.  We are definitely overdue some good growing weather.        

English Asparagus

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

MAY

 

This time last year we were talking of having had English Asparagus at the beginning of April, only for it then to be hit by late frosts.  This year we collected our first Kent-grown crop last week.  Despite it feeling late, it was around St George’s Day which is the traditional time for starting to cut the crop.  It’s hard to resist people’s desire for earlier harvests but nature knows best and this year’s first cut of English Asparagus from our preferred grower was definitely worth the wait.  

 

April passed in the UK feeling very similar to March.  Save for a few days of warmth mid-month, conditions have been unseasonably cold in most of Europe delaying spring planting.  Italy did provide us with Broad Beans, Peas and Cucumbers; France delivered Wet Garlic and Fraise Clery Strawberries; and the UK produced Jersey Royals, Wild Garlic, Sprouting Broccoli, field-grown Rhubarb and the first good Asparagus.  A burst of sun arrived in the form of Mangoes from India, including Alphonso.  We are definitely overdue some good growing weather.     

 

  Wet Garlic    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands      As a result of the weather, now  at the beginning of   MAY , you will find the following at Puntarelle & Co:     Earthy, saline  Jersey Royal Potatoes  and versatile  Cypress Potatoes .  Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring  Nettle Tops , both English and French (bag with care!).  Some late English  Wild Garlic  leaves.   Watercress  from our preferred English grower, Kingfisher.   UK-grown sweet, juicy  Cucumbers  and mild, crunchy  Spring Onions .  Italian  Ridged Cucumbers    From Italy,  Romano  and  Tondo Courgettes .   Wispy  Wild Asparagus  and  Bruscandoli  (hop shoots) from Italy.  From our Kent Grower, English green  Asparagus , both fat-speared and thin sprue, tasting really delicious this year.  Also European purple and white  Asparagus  varieties.  New Spring season  Rainbow Chard  from Italy.    Italian  Peas    and  Broad Beans .  Fat, sweet, stems of  Wet Garlic  from France (don’t forget most of the stalk is useable too.   Outdoor-grown Rhubarb , picked up from our preferred farmer in Kent who also grows our Asparagus.   Strawberries  this week are from France and Italy.  We expect English ones in a couple of weeks’ time.  There are  French Heritage Tomatoes  along with large  Pineapple Tomatoes , and the salty, crunchy  Marinda  and  Camone   Tomatoes    that have seen us   through winter are still with us.  Spring varieties of  Radish .  Cool weather harvests of bitter  Radicchio  and  Chicories  like  Puntarelle  and  Cime de Rapa  from Italy are still with us and there are  Tropea Onions .   Spinach  varieties including French.  New season  Aubergines  from Italy are now coming in more variety of sizes and shapes.   Green and Purple Artichokes , large and small.     St George’s Mushrooms  again (one thing that wasn’t late this year) and  Morel Mushrooms  too.  As always, we have seasonal herbs but we have pots of growing  Spring Herbs  as well.  It’s a lean time for European fruits but the  Nespole  from Italy are in.   

Wet Garlic

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

As a result of the weather, now at the beginning of MAY, you will find the following at Puntarelle & Co:

 

Earthy, saline Jersey Royal Potatoes and versatile Cypress Potatoes.

Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring Nettle Tops, both English and French (bag with care!).

Some late English Wild Garlic leaves.

Watercress from our preferred English grower, Kingfisher. 

UK-grown sweet, juicy Cucumbers and mild, crunchy Spring Onions.

Italian Ridged Cucumbers 

From Italy, Romano and Tondo Courgettes

Wispy Wild Asparagus and Bruscandoli (hop shoots) from Italy.

From our Kent Grower, English green Asparagus, both fat-speared and thin sprue, tasting really delicious this year.  Also European purple and white Asparagus varieties.

New Spring season Rainbow Chard from Italy.  

Italian Peas and Broad Beans.

Fat, sweet, stems of Wet Garlic from France (don’t forget most of the stalk is useable too.

Outdoor-grown Rhubarb, picked up from our preferred farmer in Kent who also grows our Asparagus.

Strawberries this week are from France and Italy.  We expect English ones in a couple of weeks’ time.

There are French Heritage Tomatoes along with large Pineapple Tomatoes, and the salty, crunchy Marinda and Camone Tomatoes that have seen us through winter are still with us.

Spring varieties of Radish.

Cool weather harvests of bitter Radicchio and Chicories like Puntarelle and Cime de Rapa from Italy are still with us and there are Tropea Onions.

Spinach varieties including French.

New season Aubergines from Italy are now coming in more variety of sizes and shapes.

Green and Purple Artichokes, large and small.  

St George’s Mushrooms again (one thing that wasn’t late this year) and Morel Mushrooms too.

As always, we have seasonal herbs but we have pots of growing Spring Herbs as well.

It’s a lean time for European fruits but the Nespole from Italy are in.

 

  Broad Beans    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands      So, what produce can we  expect  to come through our doors  in MAY ?     Earthy, saline  Jersey Royal Potatoes  and some  French new potatoes  too.   Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring  Nettle Tops , both English and French (bag with care!).   Watercress  from our preferred English grower, Kingfisher.   UK-grown sweet, juicy  Cucumbers  and mild, crunchy  Spring Onions  will continue.   Ridged Cucumbers  for preserving from Eastern Europe.  Increasing varieties of  Courgettes  from Italy.  Wispy  Wild Asparagus  from Italy.  From our Kent Grower, English green  Asparagus , both fat-speared and thin sprue.  Also European purple and white  Asparagus  varieties.   Rainbow Chard .    Italian  Peas    and  Broad Beans .  Fat, sweet, stems of  Wet Garlic  from France (don’t forget most of the stalk is useable too).   Outdoor-grown Rhubarb , picked up from our preferred farmer in Kent who also grows our Asparagus.   Strawberries  from France and Italy.  Early English ones from our favourite grower should be with us by the third week in May.   French Heritage Tomatoes , large  Pineapple Tomatoes  and, hopefully, some other interesting varieties.  Spring varieties of  Radish .  Italian  Tropea Onions  and French  Grelot Onions .   Spinach  varieties including French.  New season  Aubergines  from Italy in a variety of shapes and sizes.   Seasonal herbs including pots of growing  Spring Herbs .  It’s still a lean time for European fruits but expect  Nespole  from Italy throughout the month.   

Broad Beans

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

So, what produce can we expect to come through our doors in MAY?

 

Earthy, saline Jersey Royal Potatoes and some French new potatoes too. 

Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring Nettle Tops, both English and French (bag with care!).

Watercress from our preferred English grower, Kingfisher. 

UK-grown sweet, juicy Cucumbers and mild, crunchy Spring Onions will continue.

Ridged Cucumbers for preserving from Eastern Europe.

Increasing varieties of Courgettes from Italy.

Wispy Wild Asparagus from Italy.

From our Kent Grower, English green Asparagus, both fat-speared and thin sprue.  Also European purple and white Asparagus varieties.

Rainbow Chard.  

Italian Peas and Broad Beans.

Fat, sweet, stems of Wet Garlic from France (don’t forget most of the stalk is useable too).

Outdoor-grown Rhubarb, picked up from our preferred farmer in Kent who also grows our Asparagus.

Strawberries from France and Italy.  Early English ones from our favourite grower should be with us by the third week in May.

French Heritage Tomatoes, large Pineapple Tomatoes and, hopefully, some other interesting varieties.

Spring varieties of Radish.

Italian Tropea Onions and French Grelot Onions.

Spinach varieties including French.

New season Aubergines from Italy in a variety of shapes and sizes. 

Seasonal herbs including pots of growing Spring Herbs.

It’s still a lean time for European fruits but expect Nespole from Italy throughout the month.

 

  Nespole/Loquats    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       Focus on:       Nespole  have   arrived from Italy.  In early spring, just as our stores of apples are emptying and before strawberries come good, they are a welcome sight.  Looking a little like apricots, they can be smooth or slightly downy-skinned and vary from yellow to orange.  They have a succulent flesh, a little tart, a little sweet with a tropical fragrance.  They are a fragile fruit that keep only a couple of days at room temperature but up to a week in a cool place.  They can be poached in sugar syrup and simply served with yogurt or ice cream, or added to a fruit salad.  Under-ripe fruits make good jam and jelly, or chutney which goes well with fatty meats like roast pork.     

Nespole/Loquats

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Focus on:

 

Nespole have arrived from Italy.  In early spring, just as our stores of apples are emptying and before strawberries come good, they are a welcome sight.  Looking a little like apricots, they can be smooth or slightly downy-skinned and vary from yellow to orange.  They have a succulent flesh, a little tart, a little sweet with a tropical fragrance.  They are a fragile fruit that keep only a couple of days at room temperature but up to a week in a cool place.  They can be poached in sugar syrup and simply served with yogurt or ice cream, or added to a fruit salad.  Under-ripe fruits make good jam and jelly, or chutney which goes well with fatty meats like roast pork.  

 

  Raw Asparagus Salad    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands         We collected the first cut of English Asparagus from our Kent Grower last week and, despite a return to lacklustre weather, the English season is definitely under way.  Here is a recipe, inspired by our friends at 40 Maltby Street, celebrating the early spears which are delicious eaten raw.  It also makes a few spears go a long way.        Raw Asparagus Salad   (Serves 4 as a starter)   8-12 asparagus spears A handful of pea-shoots  A few mint leaves 1 tbsp lemon juice 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Salt & pepper  Snap the tough ends off the asparagus.  Cut a diagonal slice off the bottom of each spear then slice them thinly.  Add salt and pepper to the lemon juice and mix.  Whisk in the olive oil to emulsify.  Toss the sliced asparagus and the pea shoots in the dressing.  Pile onto plates and serve.  (Add a few curls or a grating of Italian Parmesan or English Berkswell cheese if you like).     

Raw Asparagus Salad

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

 

We collected the first cut of English Asparagus from our Kent Grower last week and, despite a return to lacklustre weather, the English season is definitely under way.  Here is a recipe, inspired by our friends at 40 Maltby Street, celebrating the early spears which are delicious eaten raw.  It also makes a few spears go a long way.  

 

Raw Asparagus Salad

(Serves 4 as a starter)


8-12 asparagus spears
A handful of pea-shoots

A few mint leaves
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper

Snap the tough ends off the asparagus.  Cut a diagonal slice off the bottom of each spear then slice them thinly.  Add salt and pepper to the lemon juice and mix.  Whisk in the olive oil to emulsify.  Toss the sliced asparagus and the pea shoots in the dressing.  Pile onto plates and serve.  (Add a few curls or a grating of Italian Parmesan or English Berkswell cheese if you like).  

 

Asparagus

Asparagus

  English Green   Asparagus    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       Asparagus       Asparagus  grows from long-lived rhizomes that spread underground.  The spears are the tender young shoots of  Asparagus officinalis  that grows into a fernlike plant over a metre tall when harvesting ends.      The spears start pushing through the ground in early Spring.  In recent years, a variety of ‘early-season’ asparagus has been developed enabling some producers to get an Asparagus crop to market ahead of the game.  Normally, the asparagus farmer has a few weeks of frantic activity harvesting the crop for market, and then it's all over until next year.  Traditionally, in the UK, the season begins around St George's Day (23 April) and by mid-Summer's Day cutting should stop.  The plants continue to put up spears but these are allowed to grow into tall fronds that photosynthesise in order to build up nutrients in the rhizome for next year's crop.  In November the plant is cut back to ground level.       It takes about three years for an asparagus crown to become established and, if treated right, it can be productive for 10 years.  Harvesting of Asparagus has to be done by hand. The white version is even more labour intensive as the growing spears have to be banked-up with soil to produce the blanched stems.  Popular since the 18th century, white asparagus has a more delicate flavour than the green.  If exposed to light after harvest, white asparagus will turn yellow or reddish.  Purple varieties of asparagus are high in anthocyanins, though, like other purple and red coloured vegetables, cooking results in loss of this colour and it turns green.      This all adds up to making asparagus one of the most expensive treats of spring and early summer.  Freshness is key to taste so, when you do finally get your hands on it, don't let it linger in the fridge or it will lose its sweetness.  The spears are packed with beneficial nutrients - vitamins A and C, folic acid, potassium and iron.  They have a natural snap-point separating the tough from the tender parts, so, it’s best to bend the spear and snap off the base rather than cut it for cooking.  Young, fresh spears don’t need to be peeled but later ones benefit from peeling the lower 6cm or so.       The first, fresh Asparagus are fantastic eaten raw.  Slice thinly, and toss in a vinaigrette of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  The wispy early spears marketed as ‘Wild Asparagus’, or later thin spears known as sprue, are wonderful for par-boiling then adding to an omelette or frittata.  Thicker spears can be plunged into boiling water for a few minutes until just tender – melted butter, mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce are good accompaniments.  Asparagus has an affinity with eggs so pairing them is a very good idea.  To cook the spears on a griddle or to roast them in the oven in olive oil, par-boiling for one minute in boiling water first is recommended.       In this the week of St George’s Day, the English crop of Green Asparagus is thrusting through the soil to join the green, white, purple and wild Asparagus coming in from the rest of Europe.   

English Green Asparagus

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Asparagus

 

Asparagus grows from long-lived rhizomes that spread underground.  The spears are the tender young shoots of Asparagus officinalis that grows into a fernlike plant over a metre tall when harvesting ends. 

 

The spears start pushing through the ground in early Spring.  In recent years, a variety of ‘early-season’ asparagus has been developed enabling some producers to get an Asparagus crop to market ahead of the game.  Normally, the asparagus farmer has a few weeks of frantic activity harvesting the crop for market, and then it's all over until next year.  Traditionally, in the UK, the season begins around St George's Day (23 April) and by mid-Summer's Day cutting should stop.  The plants continue to put up spears but these are allowed to grow into tall fronds that photosynthesise in order to build up nutrients in the rhizome for next year's crop.  In November the plant is cut back to ground level.  

 

It takes about three years for an asparagus crown to become established and, if treated right, it can be productive for 10 years.  Harvesting of Asparagus has to be done by hand. The white version is even more labour intensive as the growing spears have to be banked-up with soil to produce the blanched stems.  Popular since the 18th century, white asparagus has a more delicate flavour than the green.  If exposed to light after harvest, white asparagus will turn yellow or reddish.  Purple varieties of asparagus are high in anthocyanins, though, like other purple and red coloured vegetables, cooking results in loss of this colour and it turns green. 

 

This all adds up to making asparagus one of the most expensive treats of spring and early summer.  Freshness is key to taste so, when you do finally get your hands on it, don't let it linger in the fridge or it will lose its sweetness.  The spears are packed with beneficial nutrients - vitamins A and C, folic acid, potassium and iron.  They have a natural snap-point separating the tough from the tender parts, so, it’s best to bend the spear and snap off the base rather than cut it for cooking.  Young, fresh spears don’t need to be peeled but later ones benefit from peeling the lower 6cm or so.  

 

The first, fresh Asparagus are fantastic eaten raw.  Slice thinly, and toss in a vinaigrette of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  The wispy early spears marketed as ‘Wild Asparagus’, or later thin spears known as sprue, are wonderful for par-boiling then adding to an omelette or frittata.  Thicker spears can be plunged into boiling water for a few minutes until just tender – melted butter, mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce are good accompaniments.  Asparagus has an affinity with eggs so pairing them is a very good idea.  To cook the spears on a griddle or to roast them in the oven in olive oil, par-boiling for one minute in boiling water first is recommended.  

 

In this the week of St George’s Day, the English crop of Green Asparagus is thrusting through the soil to join the green, white, purple and wild Asparagus coming in from the rest of Europe.

 

  Wild Asparagus    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    

Wild Asparagus

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

  Italian Ridged Cucumbers    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    Cucumbers   The first cucumbers were cultivated in India around 3,500 years ago.  It took a thousand years for cultivation to reach as far as the Mediterranean region.  Now, the Cucumber is the second most valued  Cucurbit  (member of the gourd family) throughout the world – the first being the watermelon.  The cucumber is around 95% water (the watermelon around 92%) but both are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals.  Unsurprisingly, both are at their refreshing best eaten raw and cool. The larger a cucumber grows the milder it gets and the higher its natural sugar content becomes – though this is a modest 1-2%.       With older varieties of cucumber, the male flowers needed to be removed to prevent a bitter flavour developing but that astringency has been bred out of modern varieties.  Breeders too have taken out the ‘windy’ element associated with older types - ‘Burpless’ varieties are the norm now.    Fermented Cucumbers, or Acidified Pickled Cucumbers which produces a less complex flavoured pickle, are better made with small, thicker-skinned varieties of cucumber.  We buy Eastern European grown ones especially for this treatment as they stand up to the ‘pickle’ solutions without turning to mush as thin-skinned types do.  Marinating them in a sweet dill pickle is the easiest of methods for preserving them when they are at their best.  There are also ‘Armenian Cucumbers’, which are actually a form of African melon, and their relative the Gherkin whose true fruits are quite rounded.     The subtle, grassy, flavour and melon-like aroma of Cucumber is well matched to dill, both the green herb and the seed which is well known for its digestive properties.  Scattering borage flowers on a cucumber salad deepens its flavour, as well as making it look beautiful, whereas a sprig of mint contrasts.  Cucumber has an affinity with soft, creamy cheeses and yoghurt.  It can also be paired with its close relative the melon, especially the green-fleshed Galia type, in a cold soup or salad.  There’s ‘Salad Elona’ which calls for slices of cucumber and strawberries to be seasoned with salt, pepper and sugar and a little dry white wine or wine vinegar.  Or you can make a Cucumber salad by marinating thinly sliced shallot in lemon juice for 15 minutes, whisking in olive oil then pouring this over thinly sliced cucumbers.  Serve with yoghurt and mint.  You can cook with cucumber.  If you are including it in a sauce you might want to salt it first to draw out some of the water. There are recipes for creamy Cucumber soups to be served hot, and brothy versions to be served chilled.  For an accompaniment to baked or poached fish, sauté diced cucumber, peeled or unpeeled, in a little butter until just tender, add salt and pepper, diced tomatoes and chervil or dill fronds.    

Italian Ridged Cucumbers

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Cucumbers

The first cucumbers were cultivated in India around 3,500 years ago.  It took a thousand years for cultivation to reach as far as the Mediterranean region.  Now, the Cucumber is the second most valued Cucurbit (member of the gourd family) throughout the world – the first being the watermelon.  The cucumber is around 95% water (the watermelon around 92%) but both are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals.  Unsurprisingly, both are at their refreshing best eaten raw and cool. The larger a cucumber grows the milder it gets and the higher its natural sugar content becomes – though this is a modest 1-2%.  

 

With older varieties of cucumber, the male flowers needed to be removed to prevent a bitter flavour developing but that astringency has been bred out of modern varieties.  Breeders too have taken out the ‘windy’ element associated with older types - ‘Burpless’ varieties are the norm now.  

Fermented Cucumbers, or Acidified Pickled Cucumbers which produces a less complex flavoured pickle, are better made with small, thicker-skinned varieties of cucumber.  We buy Eastern European grown ones especially for this treatment as they stand up to the ‘pickle’ solutions without turning to mush as thin-skinned types do.  Marinating them in a sweet dill pickle is the easiest of methods for preserving them when they are at their best.  There are also ‘Armenian Cucumbers’, which are actually a form of African melon, and their relative the Gherkin whose true fruits are quite rounded.   

The subtle, grassy, flavour and melon-like aroma of Cucumber is well matched to dill, both the green herb and the seed which is well known for its digestive properties.  Scattering borage flowers on a cucumber salad deepens its flavour, as well as making it look beautiful, whereas a sprig of mint contrasts.  Cucumber has an affinity with soft, creamy cheeses and yoghurt.  It can also be paired with its close relative the melon, especially the green-fleshed Galia type, in a cold soup or salad.  There’s ‘Salad Elona’ which calls for slices of cucumber and strawberries to be seasoned with salt, pepper and sugar and a little dry white wine or wine vinegar.  Or you can make a Cucumber salad by marinating thinly sliced shallot in lemon juice for 15 minutes, whisking in olive oil then pouring this over thinly sliced cucumbers.  Serve with yoghurt and mint.

You can cook with cucumber.  If you are including it in a sauce you might want to salt it first to draw out some of the water. There are recipes for creamy Cucumber soups to be served hot, and brothy versions to be served chilled.  For an accompaniment to baked or poached fish, sauté diced cucumber, peeled or unpeeled, in a little butter until just tender, add salt and pepper, diced tomatoes and chervil or dill fronds. 

 

  English Cucumbers    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

English Cucumbers

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

april 2018 seasonal news

april 2018 seasonal news

  Seasonal Table at Puntarelle@Co    Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd       APRIL       This time last year we were talking of the new spring planting season in the UK being properly under way.  How different things are this year.  We may be looking forward to Asparagus and early strawberries, but the outdoor grown English asparagus from our Kent growers is 2-3 weeks away.  Last year we had the first cut 19th of March.  But we should remember that last year was unusual.  A mild start to Spring meant an early harvest but Asparagus towards the end of April is actually the norm.  Only the bigger producers can get a crop to market earlier.  A few boxes of strawberries grown under cover are coming in but there will be a bit of a wait for the sunkissed ones.       While we wait for the sun to appear, we’re grateful for the English Wild Garlic leaves, Spring Nettle Tops and Jersey Royal Potatoes that are available.  Glad too to have Italian Broad Beans, Peas, Asparagus and Hop Shoots.  And to have the Wet Garlic bulbs from Morocco that have been arriving for the past three weeks which changed to Italian this week.   

Seasonal Table at Puntarelle@Co

Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd

 

APRIL

 

This time last year we were talking of the new spring planting season in the UK being properly under way.  How different things are this year.  We may be looking forward to Asparagus and early strawberries, but the outdoor grown English asparagus from our Kent growers is 2-3 weeks away.  Last year we had the first cut 19th of March.  But we should remember that last year was unusual.  A mild start to Spring meant an early harvest but Asparagus towards the end of April is actually the norm.  Only the bigger producers can get a crop to market earlier.  A few boxes of strawberries grown under cover are coming in but there will be a bit of a wait for the sunkissed ones.  

 

While we wait for the sun to appear, we’re grateful for the English Wild Garlic leaves, Spring Nettle Tops and Jersey Royal Potatoes that are available.  Glad too to have Italian Broad Beans, Peas, Asparagus and Hop Shoots.  And to have the Wet Garlic bulbs from Morocco that have been arriving for the past three weeks which changed to Italian this week.

 

  Morel Mushrooms    Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd        At the beginning of April , as I write this,  you will find :     Earthy, saline  Jersey Royal Potatoes .   Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring  Nettle Tops , both English and Italian (bag with care!).   Wild Garlic  leaves, this week English ones and we have  Watercress  from our preferred English grower too.   The first of the season’s UK-grown sweet, juicy  Cucumbers  and mild, crunchy  Spring Onions  have arrived.  The First Italian  Ridged Cucumbers  and  Romano Courgettes .   Wispy  Wild Asparagus  from Italy, as well as fat spears of the purple and white  Asparagus  varieties.  The last of the  Purple Sprouting Broccoli  but there’s new Spring season  Rainbow Chard  from Italy.    Again this week, sweet Italian  Peas    and  Broad Beans  and bulbs of  Wet Garlic  from Italy too.   Outdoor-grown Rhubarb , from our preferred farmer in Kent, has taken over from Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb.  Just a few boxes of English-grown  Strawberries  this week but we do have beautiful Strawberries from Italy.  There are  English Heritage Tomatoes  too along with large  Provence Tomatoes , and the  Marinda  and salty, crunchy  Camone   Tomatoes    that have seen us   through winter are still with us.   Radishes  are changing from winter varieties to spring ones and this week, we have French  Heritage Radishes .  Cool weather harvests of bitter  Radicchio  and  Chicories  like  Puntarelle  and  Cime de Rapa  from Italy are still with us and there are  Tropea Onions  and  Spinach  too.  New season  Aubergines  from Italy are now coming in more variety of sizes and shapes and there are Spring season  Green and Purple Artichokes , large and small.     St George’s Mushrooms  (one thing that isn’t late) and  Morel Mushrooms  too.  As always, we have seasonal herbs but this week we have pots of growing  Spring Herbs  as well.   

Morel Mushrooms

Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd

 

At the beginning of April, as I write this, you will find:

 

Earthy, saline Jersey Royal Potatoes

Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring Nettle Tops, both English and Italian (bag with care!).

Wild Garlic leaves, this week English ones and we have Watercress from our preferred English grower too. 

The first of the season’s UK-grown sweet, juicy Cucumbers and mild, crunchy Spring Onions have arrived.

The First Italian Ridged Cucumbers and Romano Courgettes

Wispy Wild Asparagus from Italy, as well as fat spears of the purple and white Asparagus varieties.

The last of the Purple Sprouting Broccoli but there’s new Spring season Rainbow Chard from Italy.  

Again this week, sweet Italian Peas and Broad Beans and bulbs of Wet Garlic from Italy too.

Outdoor-grown Rhubarb, from our preferred farmer in Kent, has taken over from Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb.

Just a few boxes of English-grown Strawberries this week but we do have beautiful Strawberries from Italy.

There are English Heritage Tomatoes too along with large Provence Tomatoes, and the Marinda and salty, crunchy Camone Tomatoes that have seen us through winter are still with us.

Radishes are changing from winter varieties to spring ones and this week, we have French Heritage Radishes.

Cool weather harvests of bitter Radicchio and Chicories like Puntarelle and Cime de Rapa from Italy are still with us and there are Tropea Onions and Spinach too.

New season Aubergines from Italy are now coming in more variety of sizes and shapes and there are Spring season Green and Purple Artichokes, large and small.  

St George’s Mushrooms (one thing that isn’t late) and Morel Mushrooms too.

As always, we have seasonal herbs but this week we have pots of growing Spring Herbs as well.

 

  Italian New Season Cucumbers     Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd      So, what produce can we expect to come through our doors before the end of  APRIL ?      Earthy, saline  Jersey Royal Potatoes  should see us through April.   Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring  Nettle Tops  (bag with care!).  English  Wild Garlic  leaves through most of the month.  Sweet, juicy UK-grown  Cucumbers  and Italian  Ridged Cucumbers  may be joined by pickling cucumbers from Eastern Europe this month.  Mild, crunchy English  Spring Onions  throughout the month.  Wispy  Wild Asparagus  from Italy may be joined by some English grown late in the month.  And, if we finally get some sun and warmth, fat spears of  English Aparagus  to look forward to.  There could be more Italian  Wild Hop Shoots  too.  This month sees the last of the  Purple Sprouting Broccoli  but there’s new Spring season  Rainbow Chard  from Italy, along with Italian  Peas    and  Broad Beans  and  Romano Courgettes.   Bulbs of sweet, pungent  Wet Garlic  from France and Italy .   Outdoor-grown Rhubarb , from our preferred farmer in Kent will continue.   Strawberries  from Italy, France and the UK will become more abundant and tastier.  Expect some French  Gariguette Strawberries .    Spring season  English Heritage Tomatoes  and some varieties from France and Italy will arrive this month, easing out the salty, crunchy  Camone  and  Marinda Tomatoes    that have seen us   through winter.   Radishes  are changing from winter varieties to spring ones this month and will arrive in greater quantities.   Watercress  from our preferred English grower and, maybe, some from France.  New season  Aubergines  from Italy in more variety of size and shape.     Green and Purple Artichokes , large and small.     St George’s Mushrooms  and  Morel Mushrooms .  We expect  Nespoli    (Loquats) to arrive from Italy this month.   There may be a chance of English-grown Broad Beans and Peas this month.  Given the unseasonal weather, we shall see.    Pots of growing  Spring Herbs  along with our usual herb sprigs.   

Italian New Season Cucumbers

Photo ©Puntarelle&Co Ltd

 

So, what produce can we expect to come through our doors before the end of APRIL

 

Earthy, saline Jersey Royal Potatoes should see us through April. 

Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring Nettle Tops (bag with care!).

English Wild Garlic leaves through most of the month.

Sweet, juicy UK-grown Cucumbers and Italian Ridged Cucumbers may be joined by pickling cucumbers from Eastern Europe this month.

Mild, crunchy English Spring Onions throughout the month.

Wispy Wild Asparagus from Italy may be joined by some English grown late in the month.  And, if we finally get some sun and warmth, fat spears of English Aparagus to look forward to.  There could be more Italian Wild Hop Shoots too.

This month sees the last of the Purple Sprouting Broccoli but there’s new Spring season Rainbow Chard from Italy, along with Italian Peas and Broad Beans and Romano Courgettes.

Bulbs of sweet, pungent Wet Garlic from France and Italy .

Outdoor-grown Rhubarb, from our preferred farmer in Kent will continue.

Strawberries from Italy, France and the UK will become more abundant and tastier.  Expect some French Gariguette Strawberries.  

Spring season English Heritage Tomatoes and some varieties from France and Italy will arrive this month, easing out the salty, crunchy Camone and Marinda Tomatoes that have seen us through winter.

Radishes are changing from winter varieties to spring ones this month and will arrive in greater quantities.

Watercress from our preferred English grower and, maybe, some from France.

New season Aubergines from Italy in more variety of size and shape.  

Green and Purple Artichokes, large and small.  

St George’s Mushrooms and Morel Mushrooms.

We expect Nespoli (Loquats) to arrive from Italy this month. 

There may be a chance of English-grown Broad Beans and Peas this month.  Given the unseasonal weather, we shall see.  

Pots of growing Spring Herbs along with our usual herb sprigs.

 

 Fermented Garlic with Lemon,Ginger,Tirmeric&Lemon   Photo ©Puntarelle&Co       NEWS:      Thanks to the feedback and support of our customers, our  London Fermentary  products have grown to the point where we feel it necessary to give them their own social media presence!  If you follow Puntarelle_Co on Instagram and/or on Twitter, we’d love it if you would show your support by also following us   @london_fermentary  on Instagram and/or  @LDNFermentary  on Twitter.  We’ll be able to keep you informed with news, like what seasonal Ferments you can expect to find each month.    And while we are on the subject, filling the gap between winter and spring this month we have a  Honey & Camomile with warming ginger and turmeric Water Kefir  for you.  And, by popular request, our immune-boosting jars of  Honey fermented with garlic, ginger, turmeric and lemon  are back in stock.     Apart from being delicious, these unpasteurised fermented drinks bring beneficial micro-organisms, B vitamins, minerals and enzymes in a slightly sour, zingy, low-sugar form.  More about our range of Fermented products at:   www.londonfermentary.com     

Fermented Garlic with Lemon,Ginger,Tirmeric&Lemon

Photo ©Puntarelle&Co

 

NEWS:

 

Thanks to the feedback and support of our customers, our London Fermentary products have grown to the point where we feel it necessary to give them their own social media presence!  If you follow Puntarelle_Co on Instagram and/or on Twitter, we’d love it if you would show your support by also following us  @london_fermentary on Instagram and/or @LDNFermentary on Twitter.  We’ll be able to keep you informed with news, like what seasonal Ferments you can expect to find each month.  

And while we are on the subject, filling the gap between winter and spring this month we have a Honey & Camomile with warming ginger and turmeric Water Kefir for you.  And, by popular request, our immune-boosting jars of Honey fermented with garlic, ginger, turmeric and lemon are back in stock.

 

Apart from being delicious, these unpasteurised fermented drinks bring beneficial micro-organisms, B vitamins, minerals and enzymes in a slightly sour, zingy, low-sugar form.  More about our range of Fermented products at: www.londonfermentary.com

 

  Spring Nettle Tops    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands      Rich in vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, iron and calcium, considering  Nettles  as a weed seriously undervalues their nutritional benefits.  Here at Puntarelle & Co we have them in Spring and early Summer when they are at their vigorous best.  Like everything that grows wild, you need to be sure it has grown in a clean environment if you are going to eat it.  Buy from us or, if you have a trusted patch near you, go out and snip the tops.  Take care picking them or filling your bag as they pack a mighty sting until subjected to brief heat or cold.     Here is an idea for using them:      Nettle & Spinach Soup   (Serves 4)     Around 350g (12 oz) nettle tops  Around 350g (12 oz) spinach or chard  50g (2 oz) butter or olive oil  2 leeks or onions, sliced  1 medium potato, diced (optional)  Around 1 litre (1¾ pints) vegetable stock  Salt and pepper  Cream to serve     Wash the nettle tops carefully (they sting until cooked) and the spinach or chard and drain both.  In a large pan, melt the butter and add the sliced leeks or onions.  Cook, without colouring, for 5-10 minutes to soften.  (Add diced potato at this point if you want a heartier soup).  Add the nettles and spinach or chard, cover and cook until just wilted.  Pour in the stock, bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes.   Liquidise then reheat and season with salt and pepper.    Serve with a spoonful of cream atop each bowl of soup.

Spring Nettle Tops

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Rich in vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, iron and calcium, considering Nettles as a weed seriously undervalues their nutritional benefits.  Here at Puntarelle & Co we have them in Spring and early Summer when they are at their vigorous best.  Like everything that grows wild, you need to be sure it has grown in a clean environment if you are going to eat it.  Buy from us or, if you have a trusted patch near you, go out and snip the tops.  Take care picking them or filling your bag as they pack a mighty sting until subjected to brief heat or cold.

 

Here is an idea for using them:

 

Nettle & Spinach Soup

(Serves 4)

 

Around 350g (12 oz) nettle tops

Around 350g (12 oz) spinach or chard

50g (2 oz) butter or olive oil

2 leeks or onions, sliced

1 medium potato, diced (optional)

Around 1 litre (1¾ pints) vegetable stock

Salt and pepper

Cream to serve

 

Wash the nettle tops carefully (they sting until cooked) and the spinach or chard and drain both.

In a large pan, melt the butter and add the sliced leeks or onions.  Cook, without colouring, for 5-10 minutes to soften.  (Add diced potato at this point if you want a heartier soup).  Add the nettles and spinach or chard, cover and cook until just wilted.  Pour in the stock, bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes. 

Liquidise then reheat and season with salt and pepper.  

Serve with a spoonful of cream atop each bowl of soup.

  Nettle and Spinach Soup    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Nettle and Spinach Soup

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Broccoli

Broccoli

  Purple Sprouting Broccoli    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       Broccoli      Most of the common vegetables around today have been eaten since before recorded history.  One exception is Broccoli.  Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and Celery are also relative newcomers.  Broccoli is a member of the Brassica family.  Two native brassicas, one from the Mediterranean and one from Central Asia, are responsible for more than a dozen common vegetables on our plates.  Cabbage, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Chinese Cabbage, Turnip, Broccoli Rabe and Broccoli are amongst them.      Broccoli, like Cauliflower and Romanesco, is harvested for its immature flowers.   Broccoli Rabe , also known as  Rapini  and  Cime di Rapa  is not a true broccoli but the flowers that emerge from the thickened stalk of a variety of turnip (a brassica member).  It’s also sold as  ‘broccoletti di rape’ , meaning ‘little sprouts of turnip’.  It can be treated in the same way as true Broccoli.       Commercially, broccoli is available all year round but it’s really a cool-season vegetable that is at its best from late autumn through to early spring.  The most appreciated variety in the UK is the Purple Sprouting Broccoli. If you grow it, you find it makes a wonderful cut-and-come-again plant.  You simply snap off the small flower stalks.  There is also a white-flowering variety, less often seen.  The thick stalked Calabrese Broccoli variety takes over by July and goes on until October.  When the plant cells are damaged, like all brassicas, broccoli releases bitter, pungent and strong-smelling compounds.  The autumn and winter-grown vegetables are usually milder.  These characteristics make broccoli a love-it or hate-it vegetable.       In normal years, when the Purple Sprouting Broccoli is coming to an end, the English Asparagus season is starting and both vegetables respond to simple treatment.  Broccoli, like Asparagus, has an affinity with eggs.  It’s also very good with anchovies, cheese and bacon.  Streamed or boiled until just tender, the broccoli can be served with a jug of melted butter or hollandaise sauce, or tossed in a warm of emulsion of melted butter, garlic and tinned anchovies.  You can do what the Romans do and give it the  ripassata , or re-passed, treatment – boil the broccoli in salted water until tender, then drain; sauté a crushed garlic clove and chopped fresh or dried chilli in olive oil until the garlic softens; add the greens and a little salt and pepper, turning to coat the greens in the oil for 2-3 minutes.  Eat just as it is, add some cooked pasta to the pan or pile it onto toast and top with a fried egg.     We expect to see over-wintered Purple Sprouting Broccoli around for another 3-4 weeks.  It will be followed by mild Broccolini, also known as Tenderstem, which is actually a cross between broccoli and a Chinese kale, and there will be broccoli Calabrese too.     

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Broccoli

 

Most of the common vegetables around today have been eaten since before recorded history.  One exception is Broccoli.  Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and Celery are also relative newcomers.  Broccoli is a member of the Brassica family.  Two native brassicas, one from the Mediterranean and one from Central Asia, are responsible for more than a dozen common vegetables on our plates.  Cabbage, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Chinese Cabbage, Turnip, Broccoli Rabe and Broccoli are amongst them. 

 

Broccoli, like Cauliflower and Romanesco, is harvested for its immature flowers.  Broccoli Rabe, also known as Rapini and Cime di Rapa is not a true broccoli but the flowers that emerge from the thickened stalk of a variety of turnip (a brassica member).  It’s also sold as ‘broccoletti di rape’, meaning ‘little sprouts of turnip’.  It can be treated in the same way as true Broccoli.  

 

Commercially, broccoli is available all year round but it’s really a cool-season vegetable that is at its best from late autumn through to early spring.  The most appreciated variety in the UK is the Purple Sprouting Broccoli. If you grow it, you find it makes a wonderful cut-and-come-again plant.  You simply snap off the small flower stalks.  There is also a white-flowering variety, less often seen.  The thick stalked Calabrese Broccoli variety takes over by July and goes on until October.  When the plant cells are damaged, like all brassicas, broccoli releases bitter, pungent and strong-smelling compounds.  The autumn and winter-grown vegetables are usually milder.  These characteristics make broccoli a love-it or hate-it vegetable.  

 

In normal years, when the Purple Sprouting Broccoli is coming to an end, the English Asparagus season is starting and both vegetables respond to simple treatment.  Broccoli, like Asparagus, has an affinity with eggs.  It’s also very good with anchovies, cheese and bacon.  Streamed or boiled until just tender, the broccoli can be served with a jug of melted butter or hollandaise sauce, or tossed in a warm of emulsion of melted butter, garlic and tinned anchovies.  You can do what the Romans do and give it the ripassata, or re-passed, treatment – boil the broccoli in salted water until tender, then drain; sauté a crushed garlic clove and chopped fresh or dried chilli in olive oil until the garlic softens; add the greens and a little salt and pepper, turning to coat the greens in the oil for 2-3 minutes.  Eat just as it is, add some cooked pasta to the pan or pile it onto toast and top with a fried egg.

 

We expect to see over-wintered Purple Sprouting Broccoli around for another 3-4 weeks.  It will be followed by mild Broccolini, also known as Tenderstem, which is actually a cross between broccoli and a Chinese kale, and there will be broccoli Calabrese too.  

 

     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
               Watercress    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       Watercress      As we enter spring, bunches of peppery  Watercress  stand out on our shelves.  This semi-aquatic herb,  Nasturtium officinale , grows wild in British lowland streams and ditches but it’s not advisable to collect it because of the risk of liver fluke, spread by cattle and sheep.  Watercress-growing depends on pure, mineral rich spring or borehole water for healthy growth.  Growers practice a regime of flooding and draining to provide just the right conditions.  At one time it was a crop that petered out in May when the flowers appeared.  These days the season can be extended by the grower rotating the beds for replanting seedlings or by planting a late-flowering variety that allows Watercress to be cultivated through most of the summer.  There is a natural lull in growth in the cold of winter too, though some growers cover their Watercress beds with plastic tunnels to extend the season.      We know the Greeks and Romans valued Watercress.  Dr Nicholas Culpepper, in his  Complete Herbal , championed the health-giving properties of watercress in 1653 –  “Water-cress potage is a good remedy to cleanse the blood in the spring and help headaches and consume the gross humours winter has left behind; those that would live in health may use it as they please, if they will not, I cannot help it.”   It was not grown on any great scale here until the beginning of the 19th century.  In 1808 William Bradbury cultivated Cress in Springhead, Kent.  Victorian London was so enamoured of Watercress that it was transported daily to the city from Alton in Hampshire by train on what was known as The Watercress Line.  In the 1940’s more than 1,000 acres of land in England were being cultivated for watercress growing but by the end of the 20th century this had shrunk to only 150 acres, mostly in southern counties where the chalk soils are ideal.         The health benefits of Watercress now have scientific backing and it is recognised as a food with high nutritional value .  Recent scientific research has shown that high levels of antioxidants, such as are present in Watercress, can increase the ability of cells to resist damage, helping to protect against the cell changes that can lead to some diseases.  This member of the brassica family, related to mustard, is high in vitamins A, C and K and has high levels of calcium, iron and folate.  In fact it has more than 15 important vitamins and minerals contained in its punchy leaves and stems.  Experiments carried out by the Ministry of Health in the 1930s concluded that Watercress was excellent for promoting children’s growth and so it was made a staple ingredient in school dinners.  The respected food historian and journalist, Derek Cooper, recalls being taken on outings to the Regent Park Zoon where, eating at the café, Watercress was offered  ‘Ad Lib’ .  It was often eaten in sandwiches at breakfast time, though in poorer homes it was eaten on its own, which earned it the nickname  “poor man’s bread” .       Sweet, spicy and tender when grown properly, it can be harsh and bitter when not given the right conditions to thrive.  Watercress and rocket are inter-changeable in most dishes.  It’s mostly thought of as a salad leaf but don’t throw away the stems which are juicy and contain much of the flavour.  Pair watercress with orange segments and some toasted almonds for a simple salad; toss watercress, pieces of blue cheese (like Stilton or Stichelton), sliced pears and walnuts in a honey vinaigrette; serve alongside roast chicken or beef; pair with buttery scrambled eggs or fold into an omelette; finely chop with spinach, tarragon or  parsley and add to a cream or egg based sauce to eat with salmon or chicken; make a creamy watercress soup; or a watercress sandwich with wholemeal bread and butter.     Watercress has a definite preference for coolness rather than heat or cold so we look forward to the spring season for Watercress.  Right now, in late March, we have Watercress from France.  Soon we will welcome our English-grown bunched Watercress.       
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


    

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
               Watercress soup    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

  Watercress    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       Watercress      As we enter spring, bunches of peppery  Watercress  stand out on our shelves.  This semi-aquatic herb,  Nasturtium officinale , grows wild in British lowland streams and ditches but it’s not advisable to collect it because of the risk of liver fluke, spread by cattle and sheep.  Watercress-growing depends on pure, mineral rich spring or borehole water for healthy growth.  Growers practice a regime of flooding and draining to provide just the right conditions.  At one time it was a crop that petered out in May when the flowers appeared.  These days the season can be extended by the grower rotating the beds for replanting seedlings or by planting a late-flowering variety that allows Watercress to be cultivated through most of the summer.  There is a natural lull in growth in the cold of winter too, though some growers cover their Watercress beds with plastic tunnels to extend the season.      We know the Greeks and Romans valued Watercress.  Dr Nicholas Culpepper, in his  Complete Herbal , championed the health-giving properties of watercress in 1653 –  “Water-cress potage is a good remedy to cleanse the blood in the spring and help headaches and consume the gross humours winter has left behind; those that would live in health may use it as they please, if they will not, I cannot help it.”   It was not grown on any great scale here until the beginning of the 19th century.  In 1808 William Bradbury cultivated Cress in Springhead, Kent.  Victorian London was so enamoured of Watercress that it was transported daily to the city from Alton in Hampshire by train on what was known as The Watercress Line.  In the 1940’s more than 1,000 acres of land in England were being cultivated for watercress growing but by the end of the 20th century this had shrunk to only 150 acres, mostly in southern counties where the chalk soils are ideal.         The health benefits of Watercress now have scientific backing and it is recognised as a food with high nutritional value .  Recent scientific research has shown that high levels of antioxidants, such as are present in Watercress, can increase the ability of cells to resist damage, helping to protect against the cell changes that can lead to some diseases.  This member of the brassica family, related to mustard, is high in vitamins A, C and K and has high levels of calcium, iron and folate.  In fact it has more than 15 important vitamins and minerals contained in its punchy leaves and stems.  Experiments carried out by the Ministry of Health in the 1930s concluded that Watercress was excellent for promoting children’s growth and so it was made a staple ingredient in school dinners.  The respected food historian and journalist, Derek Cooper, recalls being taken on outings to the Regent Park Zoon where, eating at the café, Watercress was offered  ‘Ad Lib’ .  It was often eaten in sandwiches at breakfast time, though in poorer homes it was eaten on its own, which earned it the nickname  “poor man’s bread” .       Sweet, spicy and tender when grown properly, it can be harsh and bitter when not given the right conditions to thrive.  Watercress and rocket are inter-changeable in most dishes.  It’s mostly thought of as a salad leaf but don’t throw away the stems which are juicy and contain much of the flavour.  Pair watercress with orange segments and some toasted almonds for a simple salad; toss watercress, pieces of blue cheese (like Stilton or Stichelton), sliced pears and walnuts in a honey vinaigrette; serve alongside roast chicken or beef; pair with buttery scrambled eggs or fold into an omelette; finely chop with spinach, tarragon or  parsley and add to a cream or egg based sauce to eat with salmon or chicken; make a creamy watercress soup; or a watercress sandwich with wholemeal bread and butter.     Watercress has a definite preference for coolness rather than heat or cold so we look forward to the spring season for Watercress.  Right now, in late March, we have Watercress from France.  Soon we will welcome our English-grown bunched Watercress.     

Watercress

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Watercress

 

As we enter spring, bunches of peppery Watercress stand out on our shelves.  This semi-aquatic herb, Nasturtium officinale, grows wild in British lowland streams and ditches but it’s not advisable to collect it because of the risk of liver fluke, spread by cattle and sheep.  Watercress-growing depends on pure, mineral rich spring or borehole water for healthy growth.  Growers practice a regime of flooding and draining to provide just the right conditions.  At one time it was a crop that petered out in May when the flowers appeared.  These days the season can be extended by the grower rotating the beds for replanting seedlings or by planting a late-flowering variety that allows Watercress to be cultivated through most of the summer.  There is a natural lull in growth in the cold of winter too, though some growers cover their Watercress beds with plastic tunnels to extend the season. 

 

We know the Greeks and Romans valued Watercress.  Dr Nicholas Culpepper, in his Complete Herbal, championed the health-giving properties of watercress in 1653 – “Water-cress potage is a good remedy to cleanse the blood in the spring and help headaches and consume the gross humours winter has left behind; those that would live in health may use it as they please, if they will not, I cannot help it.”  It was not grown on any great scale here until the beginning of the 19th century.  In 1808 William Bradbury cultivated Cress in Springhead, Kent.  Victorian London was so enamoured of Watercress that it was transported daily to the city from Alton in Hampshire by train on what was known as The Watercress Line.  In the 1940’s more than 1,000 acres of land in England were being cultivated for watercress growing but by the end of the 20th century this had shrunk to only 150 acres, mostly in southern counties where the chalk soils are ideal.    

 

The health benefits of Watercress now have scientific backing and it is recognised as a food with high nutritional value .  Recent scientific research has shown that high levels of antioxidants, such as are present in Watercress, can increase the ability of cells to resist damage, helping to protect against the cell changes that can lead to some diseases.  This member of the brassica family, related to mustard, is high in vitamins A, C and K and has high levels of calcium, iron and folate.  In fact it has more than 15 important vitamins and minerals contained in its punchy leaves and stems.  Experiments carried out by the Ministry of Health in the 1930s concluded that Watercress was excellent for promoting children’s growth and so it was made a staple ingredient in school dinners.  The respected food historian and journalist, Derek Cooper, recalls being taken on outings to the Regent Park Zoon where, eating at the café, Watercress was offered ‘Ad Lib’.  It was often eaten in sandwiches at breakfast time, though in poorer homes it was eaten on its own, which earned it the nickname “poor man’s bread”.  

 

Sweet, spicy and tender when grown properly, it can be harsh and bitter when not given the right conditions to thrive.  Watercress and rocket are inter-changeable in most dishes.  It’s mostly thought of as a salad leaf but don’t throw away the stems which are juicy and contain much of the flavour.  Pair watercress with orange segments and some toasted almonds for a simple salad; toss watercress, pieces of blue cheese (like Stilton or Stichelton), sliced pears and walnuts in a honey vinaigrette; serve alongside roast chicken or beef; pair with buttery scrambled eggs or fold into an omelette; finely chop with spinach, tarragon or  parsley and add to a cream or egg based sauce to eat with salmon or chicken; make a creamy watercress soup; or a watercress sandwich with wholemeal bread and butter.

 

Watercress has a definite preference for coolness rather than heat or cold so we look forward to the spring season for Watercress.  Right now, in late March, we have Watercress from France.  Soon we will welcome our English-grown bunched Watercress.  

 

  Watercress soup    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Watercress soup

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Radishes

Radishes

 
  White   Radish    Photo © Puntarelle & Co     Radishes   A member of the mustard family, Raphanus sativus, the  Radish  is native to Western Asia.  Cultivated for thousands of years they had reached the Mediterranean by the time of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. In Egypt, labourers working on the pyramids were given rations of garlic and radishes.  The Greeks even made votive offerings to Apollo in the form of models of radishes in gold – turnips merited the use of lead, and beetroots were rendered in silver.  The Romans were early appreciators of the radish too.     Shaped by human selection, the Radish now comes in many forms and colours, from pure white throughout; black with white flesh; a form that is green outside and red within; a variety called Blue Moon which is pale purple of skin and has striated purple and white flesh; and others that have deep-red skins at the top, fading to white at the base, or are completely round and red-skinned.  They also come in a huge variety of sizes from the small, elongated Breakfast Radish to large varieties of Daikon, or Mouli, which can grow to more than 30cm long and weigh as much as 3kg.  All share a crisp texture and varying degrees of pepperiness.  If left in the warmth too long, radishes will soften.   Place them in a bowl of iced water for an hour or so and they will regain much of their crispness.    In early Spring, it’s the small red, or red and white, Radish that catches the eye.  They take only 3-4  weeks to grow and are best grown early as summer’s heat can turn them harsh and woody unless watered assiduously.  They are best simply washed and eaten raw with salt, bread and butter.  Larger varieties can grow through the summer until harvested in the autumn.  Firm and drier, these later varieties can be roasted or braised.  The long, white Asian Daikon/Mouli is relatively mild and can be used raw or cooked.  Most of the heat in radishes lies in the skin, so peeling moderates the heat.  Cooking them deactivates the peppery enzyme and brings out their sweetness.    Serve small, spring radishes with a bowl of salt; with carrots, young peas or mangetouts and dip them into a bowl of mayonnaise or a garlicky aioli; dip radishes into a bagna cauda sauce (melt anchovies into olive oil and garlic before whisking in butter).  Make a radish sandwich – butter brown bread, add a layer of radish leaves and top with sliced radishes and season with salt.  The leaves of radish add a light pepperiness to a bowl of salad leaves too.  Larger types, like Daikon/Mouli, can be sliced, mixed with chicory leaves and finely sliced fennel, or paired with anchovy.  Both ways are good with a citrus and olive oil dressing.  Radishes pickle well too.  Personally, we wouldn’t cook radish.  It’s the peppery crunch that makes them so appealing, so, if you want a mild pepperiness, maybe you should reach for a turnip instead.  

White   Radish

Photo © Puntarelle & Co

Radishes

A member of the mustard family, Raphanus sativus, the Radish is native to Western Asia.  Cultivated for thousands of years they had reached the Mediterranean by the time of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. In Egypt, labourers working on the pyramids were given rations of garlic and radishes.  The Greeks even made votive offerings to Apollo in the form of models of radishes in gold – turnips merited the use of lead, and beetroots were rendered in silver.  The Romans were early appreciators of the radish too.   

Shaped by human selection, the Radish now comes in many forms and colours, from pure white throughout; black with white flesh; a form that is green outside and red within; a variety called Blue Moon which is pale purple of skin and has striated purple and white flesh; and others that have deep-red skins at the top, fading to white at the base, or are completely round and red-skinned.  They also come in a huge variety of sizes from the small, elongated Breakfast Radish to large varieties of Daikon, or Mouli, which can grow to more than 30cm long and weigh as much as 3kg.  All share a crisp texture and varying degrees of pepperiness.  If left in the warmth too long, radishes will soften.   Place them in a bowl of iced water for an hour or so and they will regain much of their crispness.  

In early Spring, it’s the small red, or red and white, Radish that catches the eye.  They take only 3-4  weeks to grow and are best grown early as summer’s heat can turn them harsh and woody unless watered assiduously.  They are best simply washed and eaten raw with salt, bread and butter.  Larger varieties can grow through the summer until harvested in the autumn.  Firm and drier, these later varieties can be roasted or braised.  The long, white Asian Daikon/Mouli is relatively mild and can be used raw or cooked.  Most of the heat in radishes lies in the skin, so peeling moderates the heat.  Cooking them deactivates the peppery enzyme and brings out their sweetness.  

Serve small, spring radishes with a bowl of salt; with carrots, young peas or mangetouts and dip them into a bowl of mayonnaise or a garlicky aioli; dip radishes into a bagna cauda sauce (melt anchovies into olive oil and garlic before whisking in butter).  Make a radish sandwich – butter brown bread, add a layer of radish leaves and top with sliced radishes and season with salt.  The leaves of radish add a light pepperiness to a bowl of salad leaves too.  Larger types, like Daikon/Mouli, can be sliced, mixed with chicory leaves and finely sliced fennel, or paired with anchovy.  Both ways are good with a citrus and olive oil dressing.  Radishes pickle well too.  Personally, we wouldn’t cook radish.  It’s the peppery crunch that makes them so appealing, so, if you want a mild pepperiness, maybe you should reach for a turnip instead.  

 Black radish    Photo © Puntarelle & Co

Black radish 

Photo © Puntarelle & Co

  Blue Meat Radish  &  Green Radish       Photo © Puntarelle & Co

Blue Meat Radish  &  Green Radish   

Photo © Puntarelle & Co

Seasonal Produce News-March 2018

Seasonal Produce News-March 2018

  Sicilian Tarocco Fire Oranges    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       MARCH      Through February, British-grown hardy brassicas and winter stores of root crops have been essentials in our kitchens.  The pink and red stems of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, vibrant Radicchio leaves and fragrant Sicilian Citrus brought colour to our lives in what has turned out to be a truly wintery scene.  As I write, heavy snow is falling.  Here in London, sturdy boots and warm scarves and hats are essential.  Even southern Europe hasn’t been spared this winter.      In March, to add to our greens and roots, we are at our most reliant on southern Europe whose milder temperatures give their farmers a head-start over our own growers.  We turn to South Africa and South America for a few items.  This month we would normally expect the first of our supplies of deliciously sweet peas, tender broad beans, pungent wild garlic leaves and juicy wet garlic to propel us into spring.  The latest blast of cold, when even Rome has been blanketed in snow, comes just as they are raising early spring crops in southern Europe.  Spare a thought for growers here in Britain and throughout the rest of Europe right now.   

Sicilian Tarocco Fire Oranges

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

MARCH

 

Through February, British-grown hardy brassicas and winter stores of root crops have been essentials in our kitchens.  The pink and red stems of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, vibrant Radicchio leaves and fragrant Sicilian Citrus brought colour to our lives in what has turned out to be a truly wintery scene.  As I write, heavy snow is falling.  Here in London, sturdy boots and warm scarves and hats are essential.  Even southern Europe hasn’t been spared this winter. 

 

In March, to add to our greens and roots, we are at our most reliant on southern Europe whose milder temperatures give their farmers a head-start over our own growers.  We turn to South Africa and South America for a few items.  This month we would normally expect the first of our supplies of deliciously sweet peas, tender broad beans, pungent wild garlic leaves and juicy wet garlic to propel us into spring.  The latest blast of cold, when even Rome has been blanketed in snow, comes just as they are raising early spring crops in southern Europe.  Spare a thought for growers here in Britain and throughout the rest of Europe right now.

 

  Sardinian Spiky Artichokes    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands         We are very proud of our  Citrus,  much of it untreated and directly sourced from Sicily.  Crates of  Leafy Lemons , juicy  Navel Oranges ,  Tarocco   Oranges ,  Pink Grapefruits  and highly-perfumed  Mandarins  have been delivered in increasing variety since late December.  Last week  Kumquats  arrived and we hope for more red-fleshed  Moro   Oranges .        At the beginning of March here at Puntarelle & Co we have:      British  Brassicas  including  Savoy Cabbage , green and purple hued  January King , blistered-leaved  Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero ,  Kale ,  Brussels Sprouts  and  Brussels Tops , and  Purple Sprouting Broccoli .  We have  Kohlrabi  too.  For Roots, which store well, there are  Jerusalem Artichokes ,  Beetroot ,  Turnips ,  Swede,   Celeriac ,  Potatoes  and  Carrots .   Leeks , which are happy in cold ground, are still coming in from the fields.    Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb  is reaching its peak.  Its stalks are a little thicker and more deeply coloured now, and are tasting at their best.   Untreated Sicilian Citrus  in the form of  Leafy     Lemons , juicy  Tarocco   Oranges ,  Pink Grapefruits , sweet  Mandarins Nova  and common Mandarins.    We have a small number of highly-coloured  Tarocco Fire Oranges   this week.  And, via the Milan market, we have  Bergamots  and  Cedro .  There may be snow on the ground but this week sees the first  Broad Beans ,  Fresh Peas ,  Wild Asparagus , cultivated  Purple Asparagus  from warmer climes.  We have  Minestra Cabbage  and  Broccolo di Bassano  from Italy.  There is vitamin and mineral packed Italian  Spinach  and  Chard  and colourful bitter-leaved heads of  Radicchio .  There’s  Puntarelle Chicory  and  Cime di Rapa  too.  Crunchy, juicy  Agretti/Monk’s Beard  continues, an excellent accompaniment to fish or simply blanched and tossed in anchovy butter.   Spiky Sardinian Artichokes  and globes of  Romaneschi Artichokes  are still with us and, this week, we have the medium-sized  Tema Artichokes  and the small purple  Petit Violet Artichokes  too.    There are Pale green Italian  Courgettes , crisp  Radish , and crunchy red  Tropea Onions .  Providing tasty  Tomatoes    through winter is a challenge but the green seasonal  Marinda  and salty, crunchy  Camone  are welcome, and they are at their best now.   A small amount of  Wild Garlic Leaves , as these have been affected by the weather.  We also have some wonderfully fleshy, semi-dried  Black Olives  from Italy this week.   

Sardinian Spiky Artichokes

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

 

We are very proud of our Citrus, much of it untreated and directly sourced from Sicily.  Crates of Leafy Lemons, juicy Navel Oranges, Tarocco Oranges, Pink Grapefruits and highly-perfumed Mandarins have been delivered in increasing variety since late December.  Last week Kumquats arrived and we hope for more red-fleshed Moro Oranges.  

 

At the beginning of March here at Puntarelle & Co we have:

 

British Brassicas including Savoy Cabbage, green and purple hued January King, blistered-leaved Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero, Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Brussels Tops, and Purple Sprouting Broccoli.  We have Kohlrabi too.

For Roots, which store well, there are Jerusalem Artichokes, Beetroot, Turnips, Swede, Celeriac, Potatoes and CarrotsLeeks, which are happy in cold ground, are still coming in from the fields. 

Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb is reaching its peak.  Its stalks are a little thicker and more deeply coloured now, and are tasting at their best.

Untreated Sicilian Citrus in the form of Leafy Lemons, juicy Tarocco Oranges, Pink Grapefruits, sweet Mandarins Nova and common Mandarins.  We have a small number of highly-coloured Tarocco Fire Oranges  this week.  And, via the Milan market, we have Bergamots and Cedro.

There may be snow on the ground but this week sees the first Broad Beans, Fresh Peas, Wild Asparagus, cultivated Purple Asparagus from warmer climes.  We have Minestra Cabbage and Broccolo di Bassano from Italy.

There is vitamin and mineral packed Italian Spinach and Chard and colourful bitter-leaved heads of Radicchio.  There’s Puntarelle Chicory and Cime di Rapa too.

Crunchy, juicy Agretti/Monk’s Beard continues, an excellent accompaniment to fish or simply blanched and tossed in anchovy butter.

Spiky Sardinian Artichokes and globes of Romaneschi Artichokes are still with us and, this week, we have the medium-sized Tema Artichokes and the small purple Petit Violet Artichokes too.  

There are Pale green Italian Courgettes, crisp Radish, and crunchy red Tropea Onions.

Providing tasty Tomatoes through winter is a challenge but the green seasonal Marinda and salty, crunchy Camone are welcome, and they are at their best now. 

A small amount of Wild Garlic Leaves, as these have been affected by the weather.

We also have some wonderfully fleshy, semi-dried Black Olives from Italy this week.

 

  Pink Radicchio – La Rosa del Veneto    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       So, what can we look forward to in the month of March (weather permitting)?      The first  Wet Garlic  from France and Italy.  English and French  Wild Garlic leaves  – sparse until it recovers from this cold spell.    Early  Broad Beans ,  Fresh Peas ,  Wild Asparagus , cultivated  Purple Asparagus ,  Minestra Cabbage  and  Broccolo di Bassano  from Italy.  Fragrant  Candonga Strawberries  from Italy and  Gariguette Strawberries  from France .    The last of the  Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb , its stalks thicker and more deeply coloured but tasting at its best.  Pale green Italian  Courgettes  and deep red, crunchy  Tropea Onions .   Untreated Sicilian and other Italian Citrus .  Expect  Lemons,   oranges ,  Bergamots  and  Cedro .    British  Brassicas  including  Savoy Cabbage , green and purple hued  January King , blistered-leaved  Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero ,  Kale ,  Brussels Sprouts  and  Brussels Tops , and  Purple Sprouting Broccoli  should be with us throughout.  English-grown  Jerusalem Artichokes .  They store well and so continue to be available, as do  Beetroot ,  Turnips ,  Swede,   Celeriac ,  Potatoes  and  Carrots .  English  Leeks  too.  Italian  Spinach ,  Chard ,  Cime di Rapa  and members of the  Chicory  family, along with colourful bitter-leaved  Radicchio .  Crunchy, juicy  Agretti/Monk’s Beard  will be around all through the month, excellent with fish or simply blanched and tossed in anchovy butter.  Expect to see  Spiky Sardinian Artichokes , globes of  Romaneschi Artichokes , medium-sized  Tema Artichokes , the small purple  Petit Violet   Artichokes  and  Piccolo Artichokes  too.    Providing tasty  Tomatoes    at this time of year is a challenge but the winter  Marinda  and salty, crunchy  Camone  continue and are at their best now.  By the end of the month we hope to have some tasty new season hot-house varieties arriving.  Stimulating, iron-rich spring  Nettles  should be arriving   from France soon, possibly before the end of the month.   Expect early    Jersey Royal Potatoes  and the French  Ile de Ré  and  Noirmoutier Potatoes .  All coastal-grown roots that bring a welcome rush of earthy salinity at this time of year.   Spring onions    should   start to arrive this month and, there could be home-grown  Radishes .  We may see the first    Morel Mushrooms  - usually the first come from Canada, followed by Turkish ones.

Pink Radicchio – La Rosa del Veneto

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

So, what can we look forward to in the month of March (weather permitting)?

 

The first Wet Garlic from France and Italy.

English and French Wild Garlic leaves – sparse until it recovers from this cold spell.  

Early Broad Beans, Fresh Peas, Wild Asparagus, cultivated Purple Asparagus, Minestra Cabbage and Broccolo di Bassano from Italy.  Fragrant Candonga Strawberries from Italy and Gariguette Strawberries from France .  

The last of the Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, its stalks thicker and more deeply coloured but tasting at its best.

Pale green Italian Courgettes and deep red, crunchy Tropea Onions.

Untreated Sicilian and other Italian Citrus.  Expect Lemons, oranges, Bergamots and Cedro.  

British Brassicas including Savoy Cabbage, green and purple hued January King, blistered-leaved Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero, Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Brussels Tops, and Purple Sprouting Broccoli should be with us throughout.

English-grown Jerusalem Artichokes.  They store well and so continue to be available, as do Beetroot, Turnips, Swede, Celeriac, Potatoes and Carrots.  English Leeks too.

Italian Spinach, Chard, Cime di Rapa and members of the Chicory family, along with colourful bitter-leaved Radicchio.

Crunchy, juicy Agretti/Monk’s Beard will be around all through the month, excellent with fish or simply blanched and tossed in anchovy butter.

Expect to see Spiky Sardinian Artichokes, globes of Romaneschi Artichokes, medium-sized Tema Artichokes, the small purple Petit Violet Artichokes and Piccolo Artichokes too.  

Providing tasty Tomatoes at this time of year is a challenge but the winter Marinda and salty, crunchy Camone continue and are at their best now.  By the end of the month we hope to have some tasty new season hot-house varieties arriving.

Stimulating, iron-rich spring Nettles should be arriving from France soon, possibly before the end of the month. 

Expect early Jersey Royal Potatoes and the French Ile de Ré and Noirmoutier Potatoes.  All coastal-grown roots that bring a welcome rush of earthy salinity at this time of year.

Spring onions should start to arrive this month and, there could be home-grown Radishes.

We may see the first Morel Mushrooms - usually the first come from Canada, followed by Turkish ones.

  London Fermentary Water Kefirs    Photo ©Puntarelle&Co     NEW on our shelves:       Right now our seasonal  Water Kefirs  take advantage of the fantastic winter fruits that are coming through our doors.  These include Yorkshire Rhubarb, Sicilian Blood Orange and Sicilian Wonder Mandarin.  As those of you who are familiar with our Water Kefirs know, there is much more to them than their beautiful jewel-like colours.  Apart from being delicious, these unpasteurised fermented drinks bring beneficial micro-organisms, B vitamins, minerals and enzymes in a slightly sour, zingy, low-sugar form.  More about our range of Fermented products at:  www.londonfermentary.com    

London Fermentary Water Kefirs

Photo ©Puntarelle&Co

NEW on our shelves:    

Right now our seasonal Water Kefirs take advantage of the fantastic winter fruits that are coming through our doors.  These include Yorkshire Rhubarb, Sicilian Blood Orange and Sicilian Wonder Mandarin.  As those of you who are familiar with our Water Kefirs know, there is much more to them than their beautiful jewel-like colours.  Apart from being delicious, these unpasteurised fermented drinks bring beneficial micro-organisms, B vitamins, minerals and enzymes in a slightly sour, zingy, low-sugar form.  More about our range of Fermented products at: www.londonfermentary.com

 

  Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    If you need a little inspiration for what to cook in March, here’s a suggestion:    Greens, bacon, cream & mustard    (Serves 4)   Ingredients:  500g of greens - broccoli, kale, kalettes, sprout tops or cabbage, washed and cut into manageable pieces  200g bacon (smoked or unsmoked), cut into small pieces  100ml single or double cream  2 tablespoons of grain mustard  Salt and pepper to season  Method:   Bring a pan of water to the boil and add salt.  Add the greens and cook until just tender.  Drain and plunge into iced water then drain.  Put aside.    Fry the bacon pieces until crisp.  Add the cooked greens, tossing them in the bacon fat until nicely coated.      On a low heat, add the cream and the mustard, and season with salt and pepper, mixing everything well.      Serve with bread for mopping up the juices.    

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

If you need a little inspiration for what to cook in March, here’s a suggestion:

Greens, bacon, cream & mustard

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

500g of greens - broccoli, kale, kalettes, sprout tops or cabbage, washed and cut into manageable pieces

200g bacon (smoked or unsmoked), cut into small pieces

100ml single or double cream

2 tablespoons of grain mustard

Salt and pepper to season

Method:

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add salt.  Add the greens and cook until just tender.  Drain and plunge into iced water then drain.  Put aside.

Fry the bacon pieces until crisp.  Add the cooked greens, tossing them in the bacon fat until nicely coated.  

On a low heat, add the cream and the mustard, and season with salt and pepper, mixing everything well.  

Serve with bread for mopping up the juices.