Viewing entries tagged
seasonal food

August News 2019

August News 2019

Italian Apricots    Photo © Puntarelle&Co

Italian Apricots

Photo © Puntarelle&Co

August 

August’s arrival means prime English Strawberries, Broad Beans and Peas fade out of the picture and Plums, Runner Beans and sweet Corn-on-the-Cob come into view.  The Cherries, which we’ve enjoyed throughout July, stay with us into August, getting ever darker and sweeter in summer’s heat until Plums edge them out of the picture.  This is the month when southern European Peaches, Nectarines, Greengages, Apricots, Tomatoes and Melons are bursting with juice and flavour.

Here is a taster of the things you can expect to find at Puntarelle & Co in the month of August:

English Rainbow Chard    Photo © Puntarelle&Co

English Rainbow Chard

Photo © Puntarelle&Co

Runner Beans arrive and are at their best early in the season when they’re at their most tasty and tender.  Towards the end of harvest they become tougher and need de-stringing and extra cooking time. 

Bobbi Beans start to come in too, a good alternative to French Beans.

In good years, fresh Peas retain their sweetness and they, along with Broad Beans are likely to be around into early August. 

August is the month for English-grown Sweetcorn, always a way behind its French counterpart.

We expect to have Fresh Coco de Paimpol (Coco Beans) right through August.

This is the month to look out for English grown Aubergines.

Summer Squash, including Courgettes and Patty Pan are more plentiful now.

The second crop of Broccoli, both purple and white, usually makes an appearance now and English Chard is reaching its best.

Borlotti Beans are in peak season now.  The beautifully red and cream podded beans cook down to a lovely softness in around 30 minutes.  They also preserve extremely well, either by drying the podded beans or by storing them in your freezer (no hassle of re-hydrating them later).  Just don’t expect them to keep their colour on cooking.

The summer Tomatoes are wonderfully juicy, including Cuore di Bue (Ox Heart) and Vesuvio.

French Cuore di Bue (Ox Heart) Tomatoes    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

French Cuore di Bue (Ox Heart) Tomatoes

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

The English Cherry season continues into August, overlapping with the start of the Plum season.  Victorias and Opals are always the first to ripen here, soon to be followed by bloomy, red-purple Marjorie Seedlings.

Later in August we see the first of the English Apple crop coming though our doors.  The sweetly-perfumed Discovery Apple is always the first to arrive.

We can look forward to plump, juicy Blackberries too.

The Currants usually extend into August so you can expect to find Blackcurrants and, possibly, Redcurrants.

We may also see some Kent Cobnuts late in the month.

Sweet, honeyed Reine Claude (Greengage) Plums begin to arrive from France and greengage-style plums from Italy too.

Italian Borlotti Beans for podding    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Italian Borlotti Beans for podding

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 The best tasting Apricots arrive now and we try hard to source good ones from Italy and, we hope, some Bergeron Apricots which are good for eating and for preserving.

Also look out for some luscious Black Figs.

French Blood Peaches and Nectarines arrive riper and tastier than the late July crops.  Their touch of sharpness marks these stone fruits out from the non-blood varieties of Peaches and Nectarines which are more reliably sweet.

The fantastically aromatic Fragola Grape arrives this month and usually takes us into early autumn.  

Melon varieties become ever more fragrant and juicy in August.  Expect to see Honey Moon Melons and refreshing Watermelons throughout the month.

Lime tree blossom water kefir    Photo © London Fermentary

Lime tree blossom water kefir

Photo © London Fermentary

London Fermentary News:

August is a very busy and inspiring month for London Fermentary as there are so many fantastic fruits and vegetables to choose from for our Water Kefirs and Fermented Veg.

Water Kefir flavours for August include:

Blackcurrant which is not only particularly delicious and good for your gut health but is packed with Vitamin C.

Raspberry, a London Fermentary favourite.

Fragola Grape, which was a very popular flavour last year.

Lime Tree Blossom, which proves that this fragrant blossom is good not just for making a tisane.

Fermented Vegetables include:

Our new Kimchi Spread which has all the benefits of our our regular Kimchi in a, for some, more convenient and useable form.

Apricot Noyau ice cream   Photograph by kind permission of Square Peg and Grant Cornett

Apricot Noyau ice cream

Photograph by kind permission of Square Peg and Grant Cornett

To celebrate this time of high summer, here’s a reminder that those seasonal Apricots can make a delicious ice cream. This recipe is from the Kitty Travers book La Grotta Ices.  It’s lusciously fruity and creamy with a slight bitter marzipan flavour. I can’t recommend her book highly enough, both for the recipes and the evocative writing.  Here’s a taster.


Apricot Noyau Ice Cream 

Recipe by kind permission of Square Peg and Kitty Travers

(makes approx. 1 litre or 10 good scoops)


About 375g fresh apricots

150g sugar

170ml whole milk

170ml double cream

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon honey (optional)


  1. To prepare the ice cream: slice the apricots in half and remove the stones; keep these to one side. Cook the apricot halves very lightly just until the fruit collapses. If using a microwave, place the fruit in a heatproof bowl with a tablespoon of water. Cover the bowl with cling film and cook on high for 2-3 minutes until tender. Otherwise simmer the apricot halves gently in a non-reactive pan, just until they are cooked through and piping hot (do not boil). Cool in a sink of iced water then cover and chill in the fridge.

  2. Place a clean tea towel on a hard surface, then line the apricot stones up along the middle of the towel. Fold the tea towel in half over the apricot stones to cover them and then firmly crack each stone with a rolling pin (the tea towel prevents bits of the shell from flying all over the kitchen). Try to hit hard enough to crack the shell, but not so energetically that you completely obliterate it - you want to be able to rescue the kernels from inside the shell afterwards.

  3. Pick the tiny kernel from each shell then grind them in a pestle and mortar with 20g of the sugar.

  4. Heat the milk, cream and the ground kernel mix in a pan, stirring often with a whisk or silicone spatula to prevent it catching. As soon as the milk is hot and steaming, whisk the yolks with the remaining sugar and honey (if using) until combined.

  5. Pour the hot liquid over the yolk mix in a thin stream, whisking constantly as you do so, then return all the mix to the pan. Cook gently over a low heat, stirring all the time, until the mix reaches 82°C. As soon as your digital thermometer says 82°C, remove the pan from the heat and set it in a sink full of iced water to cool – you can speed up the process by stirring it every so often. Once entirely cold, pour the custard into a clean container, cover and chill in the fridge.

  6. To make the ice cream: the following day, use a spatula to scrape the chilled apricots into the custard then blend together with a stick blender until very smooth – blitz for at least 2 minutes, or until there are only small flecks of apricot skin visible in the mix. Using a small ladle, push the apricot custard through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois into a clean container, squeezing hard to extract as much smooth custard mix as possible. Discard the bits of skin and kernel.

  7. Pour the custard into an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions, usually about 20-25 minutes, or until frozen and the texture of whipped cream.

  8. Transfer the ice cream to a suitable lidded container. Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air, cover and freeze until ready to serve.


Puntarelle

Puntarelle

Puntarelle    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands       Puntarelle       Puntarelle , our namesake, is a member of the chicory family ( Cichorium ).  This  Cichorium Catalogna  is also sometimes referred to as Asparagus Chicory.  It’s a cold weather crop, usually at its best between November and February and, as it is coming into its prime season, it’s a good time to focus on it.       Grown in Italy, it’s a crop particularly valued by Romans who have a taste for the bitterness of all  Cicorie .     Pick up a  Puntarelle  and you’ll be surprised by its weightiness. The long, jagged, dandelion-like leaves embrace a heart of hollow, pale green, knobbly shoots looking a little like short, fat, pale asparagus spears.  The vibrant outer overlapping leaves are sweet with a welcome touch of bitterness that comes through particularly when the leaves are cooked.  They deliver a welcome astringent punch in the depths of winter to add variety to our diet of home grown greens.     Salads of bitter greens are often dressed with something salty as salt not only balances the bitterness but actually suppresses our perception of bitterness.  The knobbly, juicy heart and the inner leaves make a delicious salad.  The classic Italian way is to toss the raw thinly sliced shoots in an anchovy vinaigrette.  The tougher outer leaves can be braised in a pan with a splash of water, a pinch of salt and a knob of butter until just wilted.  Delicious mixed with some fried bacon or pancetta and piled on toasted bread.    

Puntarelle

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

 

Puntarelle

 

Puntarelle, our namesake, is a member of the chicory family (Cichorium).  This Cichorium Catalogna is also sometimes referred to as Asparagus Chicory.  It’s a cold weather crop, usually at its best between November and February and, as it is coming into its prime season, it’s a good time to focus on it.  

 

Grown in Italy, it’s a crop particularly valued by Romans who have a taste for the bitterness of all Cicorie.   

Pick up a Puntarelle and you’ll be surprised by its weightiness. The long, jagged, dandelion-like leaves embrace a heart of hollow, pale green, knobbly shoots looking a little like short, fat, pale asparagus spears.  The vibrant outer overlapping leaves are sweet with a welcome touch of bitterness that comes through particularly when the leaves are cooked.  They deliver a welcome astringent punch in the depths of winter to add variety to our diet of home grown greens.

 

Salads of bitter greens are often dressed with something salty as salt not only balances the bitterness but actually suppresses our perception of bitterness.  The knobbly, juicy heart and the inner leaves make a delicious salad.  The classic Italian way is to toss the raw thinly sliced shoots in an anchovy vinaigrette.  The tougher outer leaves can be braised in a pan with a splash of water, a pinch of salt and a knob of butter until just wilted.  Delicious mixed with some fried bacon or pancetta and piled on toasted bread. 

 

SEASONAL PRODUCE NEWS - SEPTEMBER 2017

SEASONAL PRODUCE NEWS - SEPTEMBER 2017

English Long Violette Aubergines    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands    SEPTEMBER   August was the month Europe battled the elements.  Unseasonal heavy rains, lack of sun, excessive heat and hugely destructive fires all played a part throughout the continent.  Many crops peaked unusually early, particularly in Italy due to prolonged hot spells.  It proved to be a challenging month for growers, pickers and greengrocers alike.  We saw the end of the English Cherry harvest but the start of our Plums, Pears, and Kent Cobnuts.  Climbing Beans, Sweetcorn, Courgettes and Summer Squash arrived too.

English Long Violette Aubergines

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

SEPTEMBER

August was the month Europe battled the elements.  Unseasonal heavy rains, lack of sun, excessive heat and hugely destructive fires all played a part throughout the continent.  Many crops peaked unusually early, particularly in Italy due to prolonged hot spells.  It proved to be a challenging month for growers, pickers and greengrocers alike.  We saw the end of the English Cherry harvest but the start of our Plums, Pears, and Kent Cobnuts.  Climbing Beans, Sweetcorn, Courgettes and Summer Squash arrived too.

English Damson Plums    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands   English produce is to the fore again this month.    In the arch, as I write  on the first day of September, we have:   Plump cobs of the sweetest English  Sweetcorn .    Watercress ,  Runner Beans  and  Black Cabbage , direct from the Kent and Sussex farms we work with.  The first English Early Maincrop  Pink Fir Apple Potatoes  and a few early  Pumpkin Squash .    New season English  Pears , three varieties of  Apple  and purple streaked  Marjorie Seedling Plums  from our Kent grower too.   Damson Plums  and  Kent Cobnuts  again too.  English  Heritage Carrots , creamy white  Cauliflowers ,  Bobbi Beans,   Beetroot , several varieties of  English Tomatoes , organic  Courgettes  and  Squash  and several types of firm, weighty  Aubergines .  Beautiful quality English  Leeks  are here also.     Mushrooms  are becoming more available and, this week, we have Scottish  Chanterelles  and  Girolles  as well as  Ceps .  Happily, once again, we have those wonderful  Sorrento Vesuvio Tomatoes .  The  new season Onions  are welcome arrivals.  This week there are Strings of  Cipolla Rosa di Tropea  from Calabria and large, flat and sweet  Cipolla Bianca di Giarratana  from Sicily along with sweet, delicate-skinned French  Oignon Doux des Cevennes .    French  Black Figs  are particularly good and there are high season  Muscat Grapes  from France and strawberry perfumed  Fragola Grapes  from Italy.  Also from Italy are large, juicy, pink-blushed  Nectarines  and those sunny orange, highly fragrant  Percoca Peaches  which are so good for cooking.

English Damson Plums

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

English produce is to the fore again this month.  In the arch, as I write on the first day of September, we have:

Plump cobs of the sweetest English Sweetcorn.   Watercress, Runner Beans and Black Cabbage, direct from the Kent and Sussex farms we work with.  The first English Early Maincrop Pink Fir Apple Potatoes and a few early Pumpkin Squash.  

New season English Pears, three varieties of Apple and purple streaked Marjorie Seedling Plums from our Kent grower too.  Damson Plums and Kent Cobnuts again too.  English Heritage Carrots, creamy white Cauliflowers, Bobbi Beans, Beetroot, several varieties of English Tomatoes, organic Courgettes and Squash and several types of firm, weighty Aubergines.  Beautiful quality English Leeks are here also.  

Mushrooms are becoming more available and, this week, we have Scottish Chanterelles and Girolles as well as Ceps.

Happily, once again, we have those wonderful Sorrento Vesuvio Tomatoes.

The new season Onions are welcome arrivals.  This week there are Strings of Cipolla Rosa di Tropea from Calabria and large, flat and sweet Cipolla Bianca di Giarratana from Sicily along with sweet, delicate-skinned French Oignon Doux des Cevennes.  

French Black Figs are particularly good and there are high season Muscat Grapes from France and strawberry perfumed Fragola Grapes from Italy.  Also from Italy are large, juicy, pink-blushed Nectarines and those sunny orange, highly fragrant Percoca Peaches which are so good for cooking.

Kent Cobnuts    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands   September marks the move into Autumn.  Our expectations and appetites move on too.  So, what new season produce can we     hope for during September?     We expect to have English  Sweetcorn ,  Runner Beans ,  Bobbi Beans ,   Aubergines ,  English Tomatoes ,  Courgettes  and  Squash  well into September.   Plums  from our Kent grower should arrive for a little longer, being replaced by the  Apple  and  Pear  harvest which is already underway.   Kent Cobnuts  will continue to be available too.    English  Heritage Carrots , creamy white  Cauliflowers,   Beetroot ,  Kohlrabi ,  Leeks ,  Watercress ,  Chard    and  Black Cabbage  will be here throughout the month.  We should also continue to have flavourful  Tomatoes  and new season  Onion  varieties from England and the rest of Europe.  Varieties of English  Maincrop Potatoes  will be becoming in to join the  Pink Fir Apple Potatoes  which arrived this week..   Mushrooms  should become more plentiful and varied this month with Scottish  Chanterelles  and  Girolles  as well as European  Ceps  leading.  We can expectEuropean  Black and Purple Figs  and  Muscat Grapes  to continue.     Autumn Squash  and early varieties of  Pumpkins  will definitely be in.  We may see some  Miyagawa Green Mandarins  and  Pomegranates  arrive.

Kent Cobnuts

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

September marks the move into Autumn.  Our expectations and appetites move on too. So, what new season produce can we hope for during September?  

We expect to have English Sweetcorn, Runner Beans, Bobbi BeansAubergines, English Tomatoes, Courgettes and Squash well into September.  Plums from our Kent grower should arrive for a little longer, being replaced by the Apple and Pear harvest which is already underway.  Kent Cobnuts will continue to be available too.  

English Heritage Carrots, creamy white Cauliflowers, Beetroot, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Watercress, Chard and Black Cabbage will be here throughout the month.  We should also continue to have flavourful Tomatoes and new season Onion varieties from England and the rest of Europe.  Varieties of English Maincrop Potatoes will be becoming in to join the Pink Fir Apple Potatoes which arrived this week..

Mushrooms should become more plentiful and varied this month with Scottish Chanterelles and Girolles as well as European Ceps leading.

We can expectEuropean Black and Purple Figs and Muscat Grapes to continue.  

Autumn Squash and early varieties of Pumpkins will definitely be in.

We may see some Miyagawa Green Mandarins and Pomegranates arrive.

www.londonfermentary.com    Photo ©Punterelle&Co   Last month, in our August News, we mentioned we would soon be formerly launching our new brand  London Fermentary .  We have been working hard to achieve this and are pleased to let you know that all of our in-house made fermented products, which we have gradually been introducing, now bear our new labels ‘LONDON FERMENTARY ’ .  We have just launched a new website dedicated to our fermented products.  Please take a look at  LONDON FERMENTARY  for more information.    You will find all our ferments in our fridge as our Bermondsey business premises on Saturday, as usual.  Please continue to enjoy them and, if you haven’t yet discovered them, please ask us about them.  Any feedback you can give us will be welcomed.  This will help us focus on the ones we should keep.

www.londonfermentary.com   Photo ©Punterelle&Co

Last month, in our August News, we mentioned we would soon be formerly launching our new brand London Fermentary.  We have been working hard to achieve this and are pleased to let you know that all of our in-house made fermented products, which we have gradually been introducing, now bear our new labels ‘LONDON FERMENTARY.  We have just launched a new website dedicated to our fermented products.  Please take a look at LONDON FERMENTARY for more information.  

You will find all our ferments in our fridge as our Bermondsey business premises on Saturday, as usual.  Please continue to enjoy them and, if you haven’t yet discovered them, please ask us about them.  Any feedback you can give us will be welcomed.  This will help us focus on the ones we should keep.

English Sweetcorn/Corn on the Cob    Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands   Before those barbecues get stored away, here’s a suggestion for one last firing up.  English Sweetcorn is particularly good right now, so, roasted corn-on-the-cob with a chilli butter to temper its sweetness fits the bill.    TO ROAST:  Peel back the husks without removing and pull out the silk threads beneath.  Wash the cob and the husks and put the husks back to their original position, twisting them at the top as tightly as you can (a little water trapped within will help the cooking). Cook over hot coals for about 30-40 minutes depending on size until the husks are well charred and the kernels softened.    Meanwhile gently heat some butter and add thinly sliced red chilli to just soften then put to one side.    Serve the cooked cobs, peeled of their charred husks, with salt, pepper and the chilli butter.  (If you don’t want to cook over coals, strip off the husks and silks and cook the cobs in a pan of boiling water for 10-15 minutes (just remember not to add salt to the water as it toughens the kernels).

English Sweetcorn/Corn on the Cob

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

Before those barbecues get stored away, here’s a suggestion for one last firing up.  English Sweetcorn is particularly good right now, so, roasted corn-on-the-cob with a chilli butter to temper its sweetness fits the bill.  

TO ROAST:

Peel back the husks without removing and pull out the silk threads beneath.  Wash the cob and the husks and put the husks back to their original position, twisting them at the top as tightly as you can (a little water trapped within will help the cooking). Cook over hot coals for about 30-40 minutes depending on size until the husks are well charred and the kernels softened.  

Meanwhile gently heat some butter and add thinly sliced red chilli to just soften then put to one side.  

Serve the cooked cobs, peeled of their charred husks, with salt, pepper and the chilli butter.

(If you don’t want to cook over coals, strip off the husks and silks and cook the cobs in a pan of boiling water for 10-15 minutes (just remember not to add salt to the water as it toughens the kernels).

PLUMS

PLUMS

Photo ©Evie Saffron Strands

English Strawberries

English Strawberries

English Strawberries

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.