The Blog

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Here you can find a collection of our thoughts, reports and ramblings together with some fun things we find along the way. We try to update the blog at least once a week and more often during busy periods so make sure you check back regularly..

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Feb 3 2017 09:00AM

A quick glance at our seasonality charts reveals that, whilst there are plenty of options for fish and meat on the menu in February, healthy green vegetables are rather thin on the ground.

This month, roots such as carrots, parsnips and swede are all still fairly plentiful but the cold weather means above-ground, leafy produce is hard to come by.

Thankfully a thin, purple superhero comes to our rescue this month. He's become so popular in recent years that he goes simply by an acronym - PSB. The Vegetable Formerly Known As Purple Sprouting Broccoli arrives just in time to sustain us through to spring.

Every part of this slender, leafy plant is edible so don't be put off if your PSB looks a bit stalky compared to "proper" broccoli. The first crops usually arrive in late January or February and the season will come to an end around May.

Good PSB is a real treat but it's easy to be put off by poor quality produce - woody stems and wilting, flavourless leaves are, unfortunately, all too easy to find. Choose yours carefully; it should look fresh and healthy. If the florets are yellowing or look dry then it's not fresh enough. The stems should snap cleanly in the same way as asparagus. Cooking is straightforward and much the same as for the normal broccoli.

Rather than be tempted by "early season" (almost certainly imported) asparagus in February, why not try a few stems of the freshest PSB with hollandaise sauce as an accompaniment? It'll add a perfect touch of seasonal glamour and goodness to your late-winter dinner table.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Jun 5 2016 12:00AM

Pick Your Own farms have seen a boom in recent years and June is the perfect time to plan a visit.

The Pick Your Own (PYO) food concept has been around for many years. In fact the first PYO strawberry farm was established in the 1960. During the 1970s and 1980s it was extremely popular but then took a dramatic nose-dive thanks to the year-round imported fruit and veg offering of the supermarkets.

Thankfully PYO is making a comeback and with good reason. It's the ultimate field-to-fork experience and a much more enjoyable day out than trundling round the supermarket aisles. Farmers still get a good price for their produce and you'll know exactly where your food came from. In fact, the only people who lose out are the supermarkets who would otherwise be happy to pay a pittance to the farmer and charge us a hefty mark-up once they've packaged the perfect produce in plastic (and discarded up to 40% of the crop that is perfectly edible but not deemed aesthetically up to scratch).

In his bible of seasonal cookery - the River Cottage Year, originally published in 2003, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall pondered why PYO farms only offered fruit and suggested it was curious that families didn't want to pick their own vegetables too. Well, in a little over a decade all that has all changed. The largest farms have several hundred acres open from late spring to autumn where you can pick anything from plums to pumpkins and strawberries to squash.

Most PYO farms will open in April or May but with only one or two early crops (usually asparagus and rhubarb) on offer. From June through to September things really get going and you'll be able to check off your weekly fresh produce shopping list with ease. You won't have to park in a multi-storey either.

In recent years the PYO principle has been taken even further. Some farms and cooperatives now offer "Pick your Own Pig" and similar meat schemes, allowing you to choose livestock, take an interest in its rearing and then collect the meat once it has been slaughtered. It won't be to everyone's taste, but if you are interested in animal welfare and food ethics, it's a logical step and one which takes traceability to the next level.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Jun 1 2016 12:43PM

Happy Summer everyone!

You would'nt know it looking out the window today but June marks the start of summer season. It's a particularly exciting month for the seasonal family because it's when we first really get to reap the rewards of our spring labours on the vegetable patch. The first salad crops can be picked and plump potatoes can be dug, both making perfect accompaniments to some fantastic, light early summer dishes.

The soft fruits are catching up too, and it won't be long before the raspberries and strawberries are putting their juicy little hands up, just begging to be made into summer crumbles, smoothies and jams (or maybe to add "the healthy bit" to a glass of Pimms).

For seafood fans, the ever-obliging mackerel will almost certainly arrive on our shores this month (if they haven't already), to be found on the fishmonger's slab alongside more exotic specimens like squid and spider crab.

If you didn't manage it last month, you'll certainly be able to have your first barbecue at some point in June and fishing trips, picnics in the park and long days on the beach should all feature on a list of outdoor activities that’s longer than a prize cucumber.

Now, in Spain they say "no vendas la piel del oso antes de cazarlo" (don't sell the bear's fur before you hunt it) and our equivalent is, of course, "don't count your chickens before they hatch." Both are worth bearing in mind this month as June weather can occasionally be a bit of a let-down. However, there should probably be another saying along the lines of "what's bad for the garden party is good for the allotment." (we've no idea what that would be in Spanish). If we do get a lot of rain and warmth at this time of year it will make for a bumper, fruit-filled autumn.

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