The Wellington Weekly
I would hazard a guess that Turmeric is used primarily by most of us in its dried and powdered form. There is evidence, however, to suggest a growing interest in the use of Fresh Turmeric Root. Native to southeast Asia and a relative of ginger, turmeric, in all its forms, has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal as well as culinary properties. Possessing a peppery, slightly bitter flavour, turmeric root can be eaten raw and can be grated and added to salads. Grated turmeric can also be used as a saffron substitute to add colour to rice (fresh turmeric is often referred to as ‘’poor man’s saffron’’), as well as a marinade for chicken, or to add colour and spice to soups and stews. It is claimed that Turmeric, and especially its most active compound curcumin, possess many scientifically-proven health benefits, such as the potential to help prevent heart disease, Alzheimer's and cancer. It is also a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.
Roughly 15cm in diameter, English, organically-grown Giant Yellow Patti Pan/Pattipan (sometimes spelt Patty Pan/Pattypan) is now in season and just arrived in the market. Patti Pan is a type of Summer Squash distinguished by its scalloped, ‘’flying saucer’’ shape. Possessing a mild, sweetish flavour and a fairly firm, even texture and edible skin, it can be prepared in a variety of ways, including steaming or boiling, baking or roasting, grilling or sautéing. The flesh can also easily be scooped-out to leave the empty husk as a decorative receptacle for other foods, such as dips. Patti Pans contain no fat and are a good source of magnesium, niacin and vitamins A and C.
New season English Parsnips have arrived in the market, although I have been advised that they’ll initially be on the small side. One’s immediate response to this bit of news might be to avoid them due to the extra effort involved in prepping them. Bear in mind, though, that because they’re new season and by definition still young and tender, the central core will likewise still be young and tender (and juicy), too - rather than dry and woody, which means it won’t need to be extracted before cooking.
English Tenderstem Broccoli is of exceptional quality at present and, at the time of writing, is organically-grown. Let me here take the opportunity to make the distinction between ‘’organic’’ and ‘’organically-grown’’ produce. Both are produced in exactly the same way, but purely organic produce can only be sold as such if it is stored, packed and transported separately from non-organic produce once it leaves the growers. The upshot is, therefore, that because we are unable to make such an assertion, we cannot offer it as purely ‘’organic’’.
English Purple Sprouting Broccoli is still unavailable and is consequently still off sale.
English Cauliflower has grown in stature of late (by which I mean they’re not as small as they were) and possess firm, unblemished, creamy-white florets which should be crisp enough to use raw if you should so wish to do.
English Fennel is looking really good, and each bulb comes replete with its resplendent, vividly verdant greenery still attached.
It had been predicted that we might have moved by now from Conference to Packham as our standard Pear variety, but, at the time of writing at least, there still seems to be a good supply of Conference in the market. There is a slight downside, however (if it could be described as such) which is that they are tending to be a bit big, and may therefore not be entirely suitable for those thinking of including them as part of a display.
New season French Cob Nuts have just arrived in the market. The Cob Nut is a cultivated relative of Hazelnut, but is nevertheless a separate and distinct cultivar in its own right. They’re arranged in clusters containing around 3-5 nuts, with each one tightly encased by overlapping, frilled leaves. They can be eaten raw or roasted (place the shelled kernels on a baking tray and cook at 180c for an hour), or even microwaved (150g of shelled kernels will take about 6 minutes to cook on full power). Raw cob nuts, are a rich source of protein and unsaturated fat; moreover, they contain significant amounts of thiamine and vitamin B6, as well as smaller amounts of other B vitamins.