Tag Archives: farmers

What’s in Season – January 2011

14 Jan

It a  time of year when we need those jaded palates revived – not too easy at the moment!

I’m thinking hearty soups and slow cooked stews, lovely fresh fish with delicate sauces … Do seek out some seasonal produce whether you’re cooking or eating out!

A big thank you to Archie from Earthy for his round up on What’s in Season.

Meat and Fish

The game season is largely coming to an end and some bargains are to be had. If you have some room in your freezer stock up now! Get along to your local fish shop and try something new. If you’ve not seen it, catch up on Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall’s Big Fish Fight.

Dabs, sole, mussels, wild duck, partridge, rabbit, hare, pork, beef, lamb.

Fruit and Vegetables

Pear Souffle

Pear Soufflés

Archie’s update:

What to Eat

As we draw ever closer to the ‘hunger gap’ those bleak weeks of late February & early March when nothing is sprouting yet & stores fruit & veg are almost totally depleted it is essential to celebrate the last hurrah of local veggie goodness before the joyous outpourings of spring. Despite the snow (which has knocked favourites like Cauliflower and Shallots from our local list to the continental one) there is plenty of hearty fresh veg in Scottish fields and  the shelves of Earthy right now. Some of it takes a bit work, but always gives back in flavour & goodness more than you have to put in.

In Season and Available Locally

Carrots – Look for dirty carrots since they keep better (the dirt holds in the moisture & stops them drying out). That said we do wash our rainbow carrots – a mix of purple, white and orange – since they are too pretty not to. We just make sure to sell them fast!

Kale – Often referred to as a superfood, kale is loaded with vitamins & minerals. Go fusion and shed it through a stir fry in the place of pak choi or look out for the soft leaved variety ‘Cavolo Nero’ and fry in olive oil & garlic for a classic Italian side.

Perpetual Spinach – Pretty much the last leaf of the year, it needs cooked but along with ricotta it makes one of the world’s great vegetarian lasagnes.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli – The snow has delayed its arrival, but it will be here by the end of the month. My favourite brassica is a versatile beast, but I always come back to just dipping it in some Hollandaise or tonetta (a paste of tuna, oil, capers & onion)

Turnips/Swede – As we come up to Burns Night, must I really suggest what to partner your Neeps with?

Brussel Sprouts – Still going strong, get a bit more adventurous with your sprouts post-Christmas. Think of them as baby cabbages and let your imagination take you.

Parsnips – Roasted parsnips are an absolute joy. If you find them a little tough at this time of year, just cut out the core and they will soften beautifully.

Celeriac – A fellow Earthling put me on to Celeriac Schnitzel which is a total taste revelation. They knock potato croquettes into a cocked-hat.

Cabbages – Lots of varieties but look out for Savoy and January King – Savoys are practically built for bad weather so look out for some really beauties. Lucskos Kaposzta an Eastern European pork and cabbage stew makes it the star of the show.

Thank you Archie!

Do try this Pear Souffle recipe from Rick Stein – really easy!

In season and available from the UK

Chicory, Cauliflower, Jerusalem Artichokes, Shallots, Salsify, Chestnuts/Cobnuts, Apples. Pears

Fruit from abroad

Look out for Seville oranges. Not just for marmalade, these are wonderful in savoury sauces. Look out for lychees, pomegranates and blood oranges too.

Lychees

Lychees

EARTHY

Open 7 days a week 9-7 weekdays, 9-6 on Saturday and 10-6 on Sunday.

Twitter: @earthyfoods

Earthy Food Market
33-41 Ratcliffe Terrace
Edinburgh EH9 1SX

Could you butcher a pig?

13 Sep
Sunnyside Farm Pigs

Sunnyside Farm Pigs

This post is perhaps not for the queasy or vegetarian amongst you, but don’t leave yet!

I really like to know where what I buy comes from. With farmers’ markets, it has become easier to get to know the meat producers and hear about how their raise their stock. When you get to visit the farm, you really start to understand the sheer hard work and dedication these men and women have for producing tasty meat for us to eat.

About a year ago, I decided to go one step further. A friend and I took a half-share each in a pig from Sunnyside Farm, Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire. We visited the farm to pick a Gloucester Old Spot piglet who would be raised on our behalf. The farm is lovingly run by Doreen, David and Dom Smith who produce pork, Dexter Beef and rosy veal.

She appeared to be a sassy piglet. We received regular updates when we visited Sunnyside’s stall at Edinburgh’s farmers’ market. She always seemed to be up to a bit of mischief. Something I rather liked. However, we did not see her after that first day and we did not name her. When she was good and ready, we set off to the farm to butcher the carcass.

Working on the carcass with Dom Smith

We arrived for the butchery day got togged up and were presented with a beautiful carcass and set to work.  I can truly say it has been one of the most satisfying tasks I have every done. It was fascinating to see where the familiar joints were located and how they were joined together. Using the sharpest of knives, we followed seams of fat and gradually divided the carcass into pieces. We occasionally used a saw and a chopper to gradually reduce the bulk into recognisable cuts.

Preparing the joint to make ham

Dom demonstrates how to prepare the joint for ham

It took us the good part of day to joint the carcass and then create sausages and start the processes to make ham and bacon, with a break for lunch. When we asked Dom Smith how long it would have taken him, we found it would have been a mere fraction of the time. As to the meat, it has proved the most delicious we have ever eaten, and the bacon absolutely outstanding.

Making sausage meat

Sunnyside have a Pig in a Day event coming up on the 17th September to learn how to do the butchery. Places are very limited, I’d grab one if I were you! Otherwise, do consider taking a share in a pig, you’ll never want to eat any other pork again.

Just some of the cuts and sausages from half a pig

Just some of the cuts and sausages from half a pig

All the pork and products were for our own personal use. We froze most of what we produced.

Sunnyside Farm,
Sanquhar,
Dumfriesshire,
DG4 6JP

Tel: 01659 50258
Email: sales@sunnysidefarm.biz

What’s in season – August

14 Aug

Inspired by Brendan MacNeill’s wonderful photograph of runner beans from my garden, here is what’s in season, with emphasis on what’s available locally. Be inspired!

Runner Beans

Runner Beans

Vegetables and Fruit

Beetroot (look out for the wonderful yellow,  orange and striped varieties), chard, cherries (a few still available on the farmers’ market from Perth); courgettes, fennel, gooseberries, runner beans, raspberries, tomatoes (check out all the wonderful heritage varieties), potatoes, onions and from further afield, apricots, nectarines, peaches and melons.

Meat and Fish

Crab, langoustines, plaice, scallops (look out for hand dived),  John Dory, poultry (Poussin, duck and chicken spotted at the farmers’ market), lamb, squid

Also look out for delicious cheeses, including mozzarella and ricotta if you’re lucky!

Promote our farmer’s market Edinburgh, not hide it

7 Jul

Our Farmers’ Market celebrated its 10th anniversary last weekend (although the actual date was back in June). It’s hard to remember back to a time before farmers’ markets, when it was nigh on impossible to shop for local produce unless you happened to live near a supplier. Scotland’s produce is now prized at top restaurants here and abroad. Many new food businesses have started (and thrived) on the back of regular attendance at markets.

Many of us have been lucky enough to visit farmers’ markets in Europe and further afield. I’ve recently had the opportunity to visit the largest of Portland’s farmers markets with more than 200 stall holders and thousands of purchasers. They put ours to shame – we have around 65 (didn’t this number used to be higher?)

Mozarella Cheese at Edinburgh Farmers' Market

Mozarella Cheese at Edinburgh Farmers' Market

I am so frustrated with our market here. The company running the market often seems to be far keener on promoting foreign markets fetching up in Castle Street selling overpriced produce than ensuring that the farmers’ market thrives. We have some truly world-class suppliers, but who is singing their praises?

Where was the support needed throughout all the building work at the Usher Hall that reduced the number of parking spaces making it difficult to park anywhere near the market with the exception of the overpriced NCP car park (how many shoppers actually want to park for 2 hours and for more than £5?). As the number of permit holder places increased, where was the encouragement for shoppers to come to the market?

Did anyone log how much less the stall holders received each week? Special Saturday parking could be introduced, or validated parking if you shop at the stalls. Where is the support for those who come on their bikes?

Do you remember the last time you actually saw some advertising for the market? Did you even know that the 10th birthday was being celebrated? Market it to the locals, not visitors – they’ll not be buying meat to taken home with them.

In Portland, you can use your credit card to purchase items (by a token system); there’s a vegetable valet where you leave your heavy bags of vegetables then drive by in your car later to pick up; a lively interactive website (you can find where your chosen stall is located); token matching (for those on lower incomes), a full programme of appropriate events and much more.

Portland Farmers' Market

Portland Farmers' Market

So we will continue to brave the parking problems and visit Edinburgh’s market as often as we can. On Saturday we found cherries from Perth (yes – grown in pots in a polytunnel), strawberries, tomatoes, fresh fish, meat, vegetables, eggs, cheeses, German baking, Italian baking … – oh and also a Ceilidh band and an MC at 9 am in the morning (hmmm).

Come on Edinburgh, you can do SO much better. What do you think?

Compare and contrast:

Edinburgh Farmers’ Market (not updated since mid June, no mention of last weekend’s activities!)

Portland Farmers’ Market