The Wellington Weekly
Pomegranates seem to be enjoying something of a surge in popularity of late. So, being mindful of the possibility of a culinary trend beginning to emerge, I thought it opportune to share a few pomegranate-related facts with you. The pomegranate plant is mostly native to the Iranian Plateau and the Himalayas in Northern India, although it is now grown extensively throughout parts of Asia and the Middle East, the Mediterranean regions of Southern Europe, as well as tropical Africa It prefers a semi-arid, mild-temperate to sub-tropical climate and is naturally adapted to regions with cool winters and hot summers. The fruit itself is in fact a berry whose smooth, leathery rind is crowned at the base by a prominent calyx. The interior of the fruit is divided into chambers by a thick, whitish membrane, with each chamber containing numerous tiny seeds individually embedded in juicy red pulpy sacks called arils. 100ml of Pomegranate juice provides about 16% of an adult's daily vitamin C requirement; it’s also a good source of vitamin B5, potassium and polyphenols. In preliminary laboratory research pomegranate juice was shown to be effective in reducing heart disease. In a limited study of hypertensive patients, consumption of pomegranate juice over a two week period was shown to reduce systolic blood pressure. Juice consumption may also inhibit viral infections, and pomegranate extracts have antibacterial effects against dental plaque.
As mentioned briefly last week, Spanish Peaches, Nectarines and Apricots are now in season and beginning to arrive in the market in greater numbers - although on my last visit there a few days ago I only encountered the peaches (pictured), with the nectarines and apricots proving to be a little more elusive - but that will likely change over the next week or so. The Peaches looked really rather appealing and of a good size, but were somewhat hard and not very sweet. So, although our advice would be to wait a while longer before ordering them, we are nevertheless now offering them for sale.
It’s more than a likely possibility that this week (or shortly thereafter) we’ll be switching from end of season Spanish to new season Dutch Strawberries as our standard offering. This will not only mean an improvement in overall quality, but also that the berries will be smaller and more consistent in their grading, so that you’ll find less deviation in their average size. And it’s worth bearing in mind that the swich will also mean an increase in punnet capacity from 250g to around 400g-500g (these variations in packaging from different sources explains why we sell our Strawberries by weight rather than by the punnet).
English Outdoor Rhubarb is now well established and its appearance has improved immensely since I initially encountered the first stumpy, colourless and rather unattractive examples five or six weeks or so ago.
Italian Fresh Peas are available and are fat and flavoursome. I couldn’t really think of anything more to say about them.
Italian Broad Beans are big and meaty looking, possessing bright, glossy and succulent pods - which is important if you intend to cook them whole (inside the pods, I mean). Yes, that’s right, the pods of broad beans are edible, and one classic method used in Turkey is to sauté a little chopped onion in olive oil until softened, reduce to a low heat, add the whole, washed beans together with a few squeezes of lemon juice and a little sugar and salt, then leave to stew for about 15 minutes. Add enough water to come half way up the beans, then add some chopped dill leaves, cover and allow to gently simmer for an hour until the pods are very tender.
Spanish Globe Artichokes are looking very impressive and a recommended buy this week, as is Italian Fennel - both of which should also be quite reasonable in terms of price.
This week should see the arrival in the market of Outdoor-Grown Jersey Royal Potatoes. Speaking purely form my own observations, I think it’s fair to say that they don’t inspire the same degree of awe they once did - at least among our customers, and is mainly due, I think, to the greater choice now offered from the wider array of heritage varieties now more readily available for not that much more dosh than the Royals initially command.