Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands
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seasonal produce calendar
Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands
Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands
April heralds a real change in our arch, bringing Wild Garlic Leaves, Nettle Tops and Jersey Royal Potatoes. English winter/spring Purple Sprouting Broccoli comes to an end this month and we see the very brief season White sprouting form this month. Forced Rhubarb gives way to Outdoor Grown Rhubarb. Earthy Morel Mushrooms and, briefly, St George’s Mushrooms are to be expected. From Italy come Broad Beans, Peas and both wild and cultivated Asparagus. Spring Herbs shoot up now and juicy radishes and small crunchy hothouse Cucumbers arrive. We usually see some fantastic Wet Garlic bulbs this month too. There are European Artichokes still, joined by early Courgettes and Tenarumi. April also brings the early varieties of Strawberries – French Gariguette but it’s not unknown for us to have UK-grown ones before the month is out. The best Mangoes of the year arrive from India and Pakistan this month too.
Here is a taster of the things you can expect to find here at Puntarelle & Co in the month of April:
April marks the last of the Purple Sprouting Broccoli and the shorter season White Sprouting Broccoli.
We have earthy, saline Jersey Royal Potatoes.
Vitamin C, iron and calcium-rich Spring Nettle Tops (bag with care!).
English Wild Garlic leaves feature strongly this month.
Watercress comes in from France and there is English-grown too.
New season UK-grown sweet, juicy Cucumbers and mild, crunchy Spring Onions.
Romano Courgettes and the first Ridged Cucumbers – so good for fermenting and pickling - from Italy.
Wispy Wild Asparagus from Italy, as well as fat spears of the purple and white Asparagus varieties. If we get a warm spring, there is early English-grown too.
Rainbow Chard from Italy.
Italian Peas and Broad Beans
Fat, juicy bulbs of Wet Garlic – the first is usually from Morocco before the European ones arrives.
Outdoor-grown Rhubarb, from our preferred farmer in Kent, takes over from Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb.
April sees early varieties of Strawberries, including Gariguette and the best Mangoes of the year from India and Pakistan.
Heritage Tomatoes begin to take over from winter Camone and Marinda this month and large Provence Tomatoes begin to arrive.
Radishes change from large winter varieties to small, crunchy spring ones.
Cool weather harvests of bitter Radicchio and Chicories like Puntarelle and Cime de Rapa reduce through April.
Tropea Onions from Italy make a welcome return.
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.
Morel Mushrooms are a feature of April and St George’s Mushrooms make a very brief appearance.
Potted Spring Herbs join our usual display of cut herbs.
Don’t forget to check-out our London Fermentary fridges when you visit our arch on Saturdays. 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 @LondonFermentary on Twitter. We’ll be able to keep you informed with news, like what seasonal Ferments you can expect to find each month.
Bridging the gap between winter and spring this month we have an Outdoor Rhubarb & Gariguette Strawberry Water Kefir and a Mango & Lime version for you. Carrot Kraut, fermented with mustard seeds & ginger is back in stock and you’ll find jars of Kimchi too along with our fermented sauces including our ever-popular Yellow Mellow Sauce.
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
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
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.
In February the colours of January continue with pinks, reds, greens and claret-splashed yellows of Chicories, stems of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb turn from pink to red and the shades of citrus become more varied as more varieties arrive from Sicily. Large, spikey Sardinian and fat, round, Romano Artichokes share space with an array of British root vegetables, including Celeriac and Jerusalem Artichokes, but, undoubtedly, February is the leanest month in the northern hemisphere’s growing calendar.
Here is a taster of the things you can expect to find here at Puntarelle & Co in the month of February:
Vibrant pink-stemmed Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb will continue throughout the month.
Probably the last of the Seville Oranges for making bitter marmalade and buttery curd but there will be Clementins that work well too.
Un-treated, un-waxed Blood Oranges, Sweet Clementines and, if we are lucky, Pink Grapefruits.
Deep red, sweet-sharp, Pomegranates.
English Purple Sprouting Broccoli, which is particularly good right now, and, creamy Cauliflowers.
Hispi Cabbage from southern Europe.
Crunchy, salty Italian Camone and Marinda Winter Tomatoes.
From Italy too, bunches of the Mediterranean succulent Barba di Frate/Agretti/Monk’s Beard, Rainbow Chard, Bulb Fennel, Roman Artichokes and spikey Sardinian Artichokes.
Bitter-sweet Italian Greens like Puntarelle and Cime di Rapa and new season Courgettes.
A variety of colourful bitter-sweet pink and red Radicchio and milder-leaved yellow/green Endive.
Vitamin and mineral-rich British Brassicas including Savoy Cabbage, green and purple hued January King, blistered-leaved Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero, Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Brussels Tops.
Root vegetables including Celeriac, Jerusalem Artichokes, Swede, Beetroot, organic Heritage Carrots and Leeks.
Potato varieties are Cyprus and Desiree, Maris Piper, and waxy-fleshed La Ratte.
Fresh organic Ginger Root and Turmeric Root.
Our freshly-stocked londonfermentary.com fridge this month typically includes Water Kefir flavours like Blood Orange, Yorkshire Rhubarb, Cranberry & Chilli and Honey & Camomile. Don’t forget your refillable bottles for “Kefir on the tap” option. In LF fridge you’ll find an extensive range of seasonal Fermented Vegetables too. Please , check LF website for latest Inspirational Fermentation Course dates www.londonfermentary.com
Here is a recipe using fruits that are at their best right now – that beautiful pink forced Yorkshire Rhubarb and Sicilian Blood Oranges. It’s adapted from Nigel Slater’s recipe in Tender Volume II and I can think of no simpler way to celebrate these two wonderful ingredients together.
Rhubarb with Blood Orange
4 Blood Oranges
1 vanilla pod
Heat the oven to 200C (180C Fan).
Rinse the rhubarb, cut off and discard the leaves. Chop the stems into short lengths and place in an oven-proof dish.
Remove the peel from two of the oranges, cutting away any white pith, then slice the fruit thickly and add it to the rhubarb.
Squeeze the juice from the remaining two oranges, and pour over the rhubarb.
Add a good tablespoon of sugar and the vanilla pod.
Cover the dish with foil and cook in the oven until the rhubarb yields to the pressure of a fork.
Check and adjust the sweetness to your taste.
Allow to cool then spoon into serving glasses, cover with clingfilm, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour but will keep for 2-3 days.
Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb
Each year in early January slim soft-pink through to ruby-red Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb stems begin to appear at market. A native of Siberia, there is evidence that rhubarb was grown for its medicinal properties – thought to be effective in gut, liver and lung problems - at least as far back as 2700BC. It was grown in the UK for around 150 years for use as a purgative before it became valued as a food in the early 18th century. Garden-grown rhubarb is a much more muscular proposition than ‘forced’ rhubarb. Its thicker, darker red/green stems need a little more cooking and extra sugar to make it palatable. But it was the accidental ‘blanching’ of rhubarb, caused by gardeners at the Chelsea Physic Garden piling up waste plants over winter, that led to the growing of ‘forced’ rhubarb. By the time the roots were uncovered, tender stems had pushed through towards the light and these were found to be far tastier than outdoor, uncovered rhubarb stems.
The method was embraced and developed into the use of ‘forcing’ sheds, after the roots have experienced a blast of frost first in the fields, to produce an earlier, more delicate tasting crop. In Yorkshire, rhubarb farmers were able to produce such a good crop, and get it to market so efficiently, that growers in other areas of the country gave up trying to compete. Today forced rhubarb continues to be grown in a small area around Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield in Yorkshire known as "The Rhubarb Triangle". It’s labour-intensive work which means the crop commands a relatively high price. One of the oldest growers is E Oldroyd & Sons Ltd. Oldroyd's forced rhubarb still finds its way to London markets and to our shelves.
Rhubarb is valued for food from Russia through Turkey, Pakistan and the Middle East. Persian cooking values it for balancing meat stews, particularly lamb. A lightly sweetened compote is a good accompaniment to cut the fattiness of pork or oiliness of fish, like mackerel. For desserts, the tender stems can go into cakes and tarts. The most versatile way with forced rhubarb is to gently poach it to make a sweet compote - 5 parts fruit to 1 part sugar is about right if you don’t want it too sweet. Additions you can make when poaching include a vanilla pod; a little preserved ginger; orange zest and/or juice; or a single clove. Alternatively you could add a teaspoon or two of rosewater just before serving. Fold into lightly whipped cream, or a mix of cream and yogurt, to make a rhubarb fool. If you have some meringues and a little cream you have the makings of a take on Eton Mess. Rhubarb also makes a good cordial, though you’d be better waiting for the cheaper outdoor-grown variety for that.
Through November our shelves groaned with the weight of English Apples and Pears and colourful Crab Apple branches decorated the arch. Pumpkin Squash varieties increased and nutty-flavoured Fenland Celery arrived for its short season. A touch of early frost brought good flavour to Cabbages but we were happy too for the warmth of Italy where our Persimmons and Pomegranates had been grown.
It’s now three short weeks to Christmas so, with your festive shopping needs in mind, our December Report concentrates on the zesty, tasty and colourful must-haves to take us into the holidays. It’s definitely looking and smelling like Christmas here in our Spa Terminus arch. Here is the key short-season produce you can expect to find at Puntarelle & Co between now and Christmas along with all the usual staples:
Just arrived and filling the arch with zesty, festive aromas is our Citrus delivery from Italy. Novelino Oranges are now perfectly sweet and juicy; the earlier delivery was a little underripe for our taste.
We have our first, and only, delivery of new season unwaxed Sicilian Pink Grapefruits. These are pretty special as it is difficult to find unwaxed Grapefruits in the UK. The skins make the most delicious candied peel. Get them while you can.
We have sweet, juicy Nova Clementine Mandarins too. In our opinion, a box would make a wonderful Christmas present.
British grown greens are benefitting from the colder weather and we are getting particularly good Cabbages including purple/green hued January King, crinkle-leaved Savoy, juicy Red Cabbage and earthy Black Cabbage/Cavolo Nero. Also expect to find Brussels Sprouts, Sprout Tops and Kalettes. More greens available through to Christmas include Cima di Rapa, and heads of Puntarelle with their juicy centres that are perfect for salads (particularly with anchovies) and beautifully bitter outer leaves for adding to soups and stews.
Root vegetable offerings are Parsnips, Swede, Turnips, Salsify and several varieties of Potatoes are here. Carrots too, including easy to prepare baby Heritage and the French Sand-grown Carrots which are sweet and store really well. Silky-textured British Leeks are alongside sweet, flat Sicilian Onions – Cipolla Ramata - that are so good roasted whole.
For salads, new season Chicories are arriving, including members of the Endive group like large-leaved Escarole and tight-leaved Belgian Endive along with some of the Radicchio group - Tardivo whose red and white leaves curl into a twist at the top, looser-leaved Treviso and yellow, red-speckled Castelfranco which is the mildest of the bitter-leaved chicories.
We have Cranberries, both fresh and dried, Vacuum-packed Chestnuts, Walnuts in their shells and a selection of other Nuts and Dried Fruits.
London Fermentary news:
As usual we have a range of Water Kefir flavours in our fridges but, for Christmas, we have created two special edition Water Kefirs available in one-litre bottles. You can choose between flavours of Mulled Wine or Mince Pie, both created with a mix of warming and uplifting natural seasonal spices. We will also have our Cranberry and Chilli Water Kefir available in the run-up to Christmas for those who like their Water Kefir hot! We also have a Fermented Sauce made from fresh and dry cranberries fermented with chilli and garlic. These are worth considering when you are looking for the perfect present for a food lover.
Our recipe suggestion this month is the perfect solution to when you just want a little something, rather than yet another big Christmas meal. It uses Leeks, which are very much in season, for a delicious take on the dish ‘Welsh Rarebit’. This recipe is based on the one in Rosie Sykes’ The Sunday Night Book which is full of easy, comforting recipes. This one has a kick of mustard to wake up a jaded palate.
Leeks with Caerphilly and mustard
2 medium size leeks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 few sprigs of thyme
1-2 tablespoons grain mustard
100g grated Caerphilly cheese
2 thick slices of bread
1 clove of garlic
Salt and pepper
Ketchup or chutney to serve (optional)
Trim and cut the leeks into 2cm slices, wash well. Heat the olive oil in a large pan with a lid on medium heat, add leeks, thyme and 3 tablespoons of water, salt and pepper. Stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the leeks are very tender, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking (add a little more water if necessary to soften but you want them just juicy, not watery).
Pre-heat your grill.
Lift out the thyme sprigs and stir the mustard and cheese into the leeks.
Toast the bread lightly, both sides. Rub one side with the cut garlic clove. Pile the leek and cheese mixture on top and toast under the grill until it bubbles and starts to brown.
***CHRISTMAS OPEN DATES***
We will be open at Spa Terminus Thursday 20, Friday 21 & Saturday 22 December 08.00-13.00 each day.
We will be closed between Christmas and the New Year and
Re-open on Saturday 5 January at 08.00
Summer holidays have come to an end but summer seems reluctant to morph into Autumn here. Apples and pears are coming through the doors in abundance, yet Sweetcorn is still arriving.
But now October is here we can see a seasonal shift. Here is the key short-season produce you can expect to find at Puntarelle & Co this month along with all the usual staples:
Apples coming from our favoured farm in Kent include Early Windsor, Greensleeves, Spartan, Orange Pippin, and Worcesters. Pears too are plentiful and include Doyenne du Comice, Conference and Triumph of Vienna - an old French variety with red flush, russet-patched skin and smooth, juicy white flesh.
The English Quince crop is looking particularly good this year and you will find them on our shelves now.
We have fantastic Rainbow Chard, Swiss Chard, and Purple Sprouting Broccoli right now along with Cavolo Nero/Black Cabbage, Cauliflowers and crunchy Kohlrabi.
Brussels Sprouts seem to appear earlier and earlier each year and, yes, they are in already. Some Pumpkin and Winter Squash are starting to arrive too.
We have Chanterelles and Girolles from Scotland and expect to have them throughout the month.
Wet Walnuts arrived in late September and we expect to have them through October. Black Figs are still coming in although, surprisingly, the crop hasn’t been good this year.
Coco de Paimpol beans are still with us.
Some of our Autumn Mushrooms may come in from France too.
This month Italian Peaches and melons give way to strawberry/exotic fruits-flavoured Fragola Grapes and delicate-pink Pomegranates from Puglia. They may not be as eye-catching as the deep-red Turkish variety but are a beautiful lead-in to the full pomegranate season.
The start of the new citrus season always excites and, happily, zingy Miyagawa Mandarins and early, unwaxed, Navelina Oranges are already in . We’ll have to wait for the new season Italian lemons but expect Bergamots to be in this month.
Persimmons are just beginning to arrive as I write.
New season Artichokes, bitter-leaved Chicoria and Cima di Rapa are on the shelves and we can expect to have them throughout October.
In our London Fermentary fridges in October you can expect to find seasonal Water Kefir flavours like Fragola Grape and zingy Green Mandarin.
With such an amazing crop of Apples and Pears coming into the arch right now, we have to point you to this simple recipe that tastes so perfectly seasonal. You can find a full version in Nigel Slater’s book Tender: Volume II. It’s delicious but if you want to add a little texture, a scattering of a few toasted almonds is good.
Pears with maple syrup and vanilla
4 large pears
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons maple syrup
2-3 drops vanilla extract
Peels the pears, cut in half and scoop out the cores. Bring sugar and water to the boil, add the pears and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes until just beginning to feel tender. Lift the pear halves from the syrup and discard the liquid.
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/Gas 4.
Place the pears in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle them with the maple syrup and the vanilla extract. Bake them for around 1 hour or until the pears are meltingly soft and pale gold here and there.
Serve with or without cream.
Fragola Grape at Puntarelle&Co Ltd
Yorkshire forced rhubarb/Puntarelle@Co
Cepes at Puntarelle&Co
Photo © Puntarelle&Co Ltd
We have picked up our second harvest of outdoor-grown Strawberries from our preferred farmer in Kent today. The variety is the same as the one we had last Saturday for you - ‘Jubilee’ – which grows particularly well in the growing conditions of Kent.
This distinctly heart-shaped variety is naturally sweet and juicy with just the right level of acidity so we are very pleased to have them again. Picking is only just getting going so, rest assured, we will select the best flavour varieties as the season progresses.
Strawberries are naturally high in vitamin C and this variety is particularly good as it requires little, if any, sugar to bring out its best. In fact a light grinding of pepper, instead, may be all you need. Strawberries also pair well with rhubarb and outdoor-grown rhubarb is at its best now. Just a few berries added when cooking brings a wonderful perfume to a dish of rhubarb.
SEASONAL PRODUCE NEWS – MAY 2017