Tag Archives: kale

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

veg heroes

The pick of the our seasonal vegetables to fuel your new year cooking.

Jerusalem artichokes

jerusalem artichokes

These knobbly little roots are a farmer’s dream: easy to grow, with no significant pests or diseases. They do particularly well at Wash Farm – in fact our biggest challenge is keeping them under control. They have a nutty, sweet, almost mushroomy flavour.
order jerusalem artichokes

how to cook jerusalem artichokes
Peel or scrub them, then use in stews and soups. They’re also good roasted in olive oil or sliced thinly and eaten raw in salads. Or try our recipe for jerusalem artichokes and mushrooms in a bag with goat’s cheese.

Celeriac

Another cosmetically-challenged seasonal root (although who looks their best in January anyway?), grown around our Riverford farms. Celeriac endures winter well and has a delicate, celery-like, fragrant flavour. It will keep in the bottom of your fridge for several weeks.
order celeriac

how to cook celeriac
Use celeriac to add depth to stews, mash and gratins or try our recipe for spiced celeriac with lemon.

Kale

Man cannot live on roots alone, so welcome the dark green leafiness of the kales. They benefit from slow growth and are at their best after some hard winter weather. This year our cavolo nero (black kale) is all but over, so look out instead for other varieties, including curly kale, which can be as good as cavolo nero once it has had plenty of frost. Store it in the fridge and eat it within a few days.
order kale

How to cook kale
You will normally need to discard the stalks before cooking – hold the stalk in one hand and run your other hand down it, stripping off the leaves. Curly kale is best boiled briefly or used in hearty, peasantstyle soups and stews. Try our easy ideas for kale.

what’s what in the box – 1st november 2010

In this week’s video, Guy talks about kale and cabbage.

what’s what in the box – 1st november 2010

red russian kale

This is a sweet and tender kale. You can cook the whole thing including the stem, especially if you finely chop it at the bottom. Steam briefly and serve.

cavalo nero

This is robust with an earthy, almost bitter iron flavour. Cavalo nero has tough ribs. Grip the rib with one hand and with the other, pull the leaf away. When you get to the centre leaves, they’re tender so you can chop these without stripping them.

If you’re going to boil greens you need to have quite a big pot with plenty of water and a little salt. Plunge them in and get them boiled quickly. When they have been going for a couple of minutes, take them out and refresh under cold water to stop them cooking. Squeeze out as much of the water as you can with your hands. Cavalo nero goes great with a knob of butter, a squeeze of lemon and a bit of pepper.

order cavalo nero online