Riverford Wicked Leeks

the waiting is over + price drop potatoes

For the hardcore seasonal eater with localist tendencies, the waiting and self-deprivation is over. With new season broad beans, carrots, potatoes, basil, gooseberries, a few artichokes and cucumbers already here with much to follow, it’s a great time of year for growers and cooks. Those first strawberries would never taste so good if they seamlessly followed Spanish Elsanta. Meanwhile, we very nearly moved straight from our barn-stored old season carrots (which have held up very well) to new season bunched carrots. We have used a few Spanish and Italian carrots for the extras list this year but are determined to banish them completely next year by risking an early, autumn sown crop on our French farm in the Vendée.

This week, many of you will again find both stored and new potatoes in your boxes. Valor is the sleepiest of our old season potatoes, with a marked reluctance to wake up and sprout in spring. The added soporific effect of storing them at 3˚C through the winter has kept them in good condition, but even they want to start a new generation, so keep them in the fridge. Don’t worry too much about a few sprouts and a little squidginess; they often develop a wonderful sweetness at this time and are still great for roasting and baking.

After a few weeks of Channel Island and then Cornish new potatoes, we started digging the first of the Devon-grown Ostara this week, to be followed by Lady Crystal and then the wonderful Charlotte in July. Without the protection of a set skin, new potatoes easily dry out so they should be kept in the fridge and eaten within ten days. With their waxy texture they are best suited to salads or serving with mint/parsley and a knob of butter. Despite the drought these early crops are yielding well, so we are reducing the price of the 1kg and 2kg bags on the extras list by 50p and 80p respectively. Where we have irrigation, the main crop potatoes are healthy but beyond the reach of the pipes, with only an inch of rain since planting, the roots have sucked out virtually all moisture and there’s a real danger the tubers will never get to harvestable size. Small spuds are fine for a salad in June but no one wants marbles for a roast in January.
Guy Watson