but still……come back another day.
I remember a conversation i had with one of my farmers market customers in north London a couple of months ago. It was after the hose pipe ban had been implemented and there was a steady stream of inquiries on how the lack of rain would affect our crops for that year. I was, admittedly, a little bit worried but probably not as worried as other farmers in drier areas (fruit and veg can withstand more than most people expect). And the prospect of a hot summer would only mean busier farmers markets and lots of soft fruit, this reassured myself as well as the customers.
Alas it wasn’t to be, too many people prayed for rain, and so rain we got. Now we have probably have half the strawberries, and 1/4 of the cherries we were hoping for, slugs and starlings got the rest (lucky blighters).
But what is left is surprisingly good, we often associate the sweetness in the fruit to the sunshine hours it receives, but strawberries this year are sweeter than ever, the cherries are exploding with flavour (literally in some cases) and raspberries and currants are some of the tastiest i have every had. So its not all bad, you just have to accept what nature throws at you and what ever is provided will be the real deal. That’s real seasonal eating.
Despite all the bad weather we’ve been having lately we are lucky at Perry Court to have some beautiful traditional orchards much of which is now in full blossom. Enough to cheer us up and remind us that summer is on its way even on the greyest of days. As you drive up to the farm the Bramley blossom is especially pretty so come down and check it out.
Did you know that apple blossoms on a tree are not necessarily a positive indicator of forthcoming apples. If blossoms are not adequately pollinated, a flowering tree will not bear fruit. Luckily for us the few warm days we have had, has meant there are plenty of insects doing their job.
While we may not be enjoying the ongoing rain, things on the farm are growing like mad. We have our new season asparagus in the shop, remember you only get until 21st June to enjoy this King (or should we say Queen, it is her Diamond Jubilee year after all) of veg.
For best results, wash the stems thoroughly in a sink full of cold water. Then trim the stalks and, if the lower part of the stem seems tough when sliced and eaten raw, lightly peel the bottom third of the stem. Drop loose spears into a pan of boiling water and cook until just tender. The cooking time varies according to the thickness of the stems, but ranges between 3-5 minutes. Once it’s cooked, drain and pat dry on kitchen paper. If you’re serving it cold, you’ll get the best flavour if, rather than cooling under the cold tap, you spread the hot asparagus out to cool on some kitchen paper.
Fresh, tender asparagus can be served raw, use a vegetable peeler to cut thin shavings into a salad and dressing it with a lemon vinaigrette, or serve it whole with aioli for dipping.
Apologies for the lack of posts, but we have been busy busy at Perry Court with our new goslings and lambs and growing lots of tasty fruit and vegetables! And right now, especially after the much needed rain, our rhubarb is ripe and ready for eating.
Rhubarb rhubarb is a phase used by extras in films and tv shows to provide background noise – what an insult to the regal rhubarb. Not only is rhubarb delicious but it is very good for you too. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and K, high in dietary fibre and calcium, and low in sodium and saturated fat. Not only that but British rhubarb is high in polyphenols which are believed to destroy cancer cells. What are you waiting for – get cooking!
There is a lot more to rhubarb than crumble. Why not try making a rhubarb coulis, with some of our first strawberries of the season. In a saucepan add ½ a stalk of rhubarb, trimmed and diced, to 6 hulled strawberries, and approximately 2 oz of sugar and cook over a low heat until the fruit has softened, then pass the mixture through a fine sieve. Once cooled, combine the coulis with mascarpone or whipped double cream for a wonderful filling for cakes or macarons. Otherwise enjoy the coulis with some yoghurt and muesli for breakfast.
Rhubarb is not only a sweet treat but is a wonderful accompaniment with duck; simply cook 3 stalks of rhubarb as above and swap the strawberries for 150ml of port and 150ml of chicken stock. Mackerel and rhubarb is also a fantastic combination; again simply heat your rhubarb with sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice for a delightfully zingy sauce.
Make sure to pick up some rhubarb at the farm shop or farmer’s market this weekend and let your rhubarb take centre stage – background noise indeed!
You’ve heard, an apple a day will keep the doctor away. While it will certainly take more than a daily apple to keep you healthy, it is a step in the right direction. Apples are delicious, easy to carry for snacking, low in calories, a natural mouth freshener, and they are still very inexpensive.
Apples are source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber such as pectin actually helps to prevent cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the incident of arteriosclerosis and heart disease. The insoluble fiber provides bulk in the intestinal tract, holding water to cleanse and move food quickly through the digestive system.
It is a good idea to eat apples with their skin. Almost half of the vitamin C content is just underneath the skin. Eating the skin also increases insoluble fiber content. Most of an apple’s fragrance cells are also concentrated in the skin and as they ripen, the skin cells develop more aroma and flavor.
Apples can be sweet, tart; soft and smooth, or crisp and crunchy, depending on the one you choose. There are apples to suit everyone’s taste, so why not choose one. Have an apple today!