Tag Archives: broccoli

Guy’s newsletter: greenery struggles

We are conscious that the vegboxes are lacking in greenery. Even with all our experience, late winter harvests and the resulting box contents are hard to plan; a few days lost in August due to drought or late planting, and crops don’t mature enough before growth shuts down in December. Or, as was the case this year, too mild an autumn (the ‘long back end’ as Devon farmers call it) and our cabbages, kales, leeks and cauliflower bury us in a glut before Christmas, leaving very little for the rest of the winter.

To add to the woe, a cold February has stopped the winter cauliflowers in their tracks; the hardy varieties bred to make a curd (the white head that you eat) at this time of year rely on drawing nutrients from a big plant frame grown in the autumn. During the winter they are said to ‘grow from their stumps’ rather than their leaves, but even this process grinds to a halt below 7°C. However we have been saved to some degree by the vagaries of a kale crisp-maker; we grew 20 tonnes for them to fry only to be told they were the wrong shape; we were only too glad to put this curly kale in the boxes instead. Additional relief is at hand as we start picking spring greens too; sown in July at a high density, they are traditionally harvested in the mild southwest as loose-hearted, immature cabbages from now to April. Without the regular addition of nitrogen fertiliser given to conventional crops, ours grow more slowly and will be smaller and paler, but the flavour is much better. Last year the cows broke in and ate most of them but this year, despite a lot of weed, we have a fair crop of this hugely underrated vegetable.

To plug some gaps in your boxes we are using more imported calabrese broccoli than I would like, but our own winter-hardy and infinitely superior purple sprouting broccoli will soon displace it. Harvest reaches its peak in late March and should continue to the end of April as the first new greens (already planted and growing away under fleece) start arriving from our farm in France. Along with some spinach and beans from our growers in Spain, we think we have the ‘hungry gap’ between old and new crops pretty well covered this year.

Guy Watson

what’s what in the box – 15th november 2010

In this week’s video, Guy talks about cauliflower and broccoli.

what’s what in the box – 15th november 2010

cauliflower and broccoli

These have similar flavours but different seasons. Cauliflower is at its best from September to May, romanesco is in season from September to November. Broccoli is only in season in the UK from June to October. Purple sprouting broccoli is in season from March to April.

All of these can be substituted for one another in recipes but it’s important that when you chop them up you get them into similar sized pieces so they cook at the same rate.

romanesco

Treat it in the same way as a cauliflower, but the florets are longer and thinner and sometimes cook a bit better. It has a crunchy texture and a sweeter, nutty flavour.

broccoli

The stalk is nice and can be chopped up

purple sprouting broccoli

The decision you have to make is how tough it is. Sometimes the base of the stalk is tough, so break it and see if it’s worth peeling.