Seasonal Product of the Month

February's product of the month - Cabbage

February’s product of the month is the cabbage, (I couldn’t find anything seasonally that we could like to Valentines Day, so cabbage it had to be) There are 3 main cabbage types, green, red and Savoy with lots of different varieties falling under those three headings. Cabbages are part of the cruciferous family (cauliflower and sprouts etc). You maybe surprised to know that the cabbage is the 2nd most consumed vegetable in the world, with potatoes knocking it off the number one spot. The cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C (ideal for this time of year with flu and colds doing the rounds) it is also high in fiber and low in calories on average one cup of cabbage has 25 calories (hence the cabbage soup diet). To reap the full benefit of the cabbage, experts recommend steaming, stir frying or eating it raw, as the best cooking methods.

It is thought that cabbages first derived from the wild leafy mustard plant mainly found in the Mediterranean region.  The cabbage season is mainly all year round, but for the best tasting cabbages they should be consumed late autumn early winter.

There are many stories of cabbage uses through out time…yes that’s right they have other properties other than keeping the hunger at bay.

The Romans/Greeks placed great importance on the cabbage for curing and disease or illness. Egyptian Pharaohs used to consume cabbage before a heavy night out on the alcohol, as they believed it allowed them to drink more, cabbage is still used to day as a cure for a hangover, not sure about this myself, but if there is anyone brave enough after a Friday night then let us know how it turns out.

Cabbages and cabbage patches have been used for generation to explain away the age old question ‘were do babies come from’ as mothers used to tell children they came from the cabbage patch.

Dutch sailor men used to eat fermented cabbage (saverbrout) as a way of preventing scurvy on long trips across the seas.

So help fight off these February colds, by checking out the Green Valley Grocer's selection of cabbages.

 

 

 

 

January's Product of the Month-Cauliflowers

The Cauliflower is one of many in the brassica oleracea species, the name cauliflower comes from the Latin words caulis meaning stalk and floris meaning flower. The cauliflower is an annual plant, which reproduces by seed. It has been well publicized recently that the price of cauliflowers may rise dramatically because of the harsh temperatures we have experienced this winter, and many fields of cauliflowers have been lost.

Cauliflowers are low in fat, high in fiber, water and vitamin C, they can be roasted, boiled, fried, steamed or eaten raw, and they can be used instead of meatballs in a vegetarian pasta dish or as dips at a party.

Cauliflowers that are cooked in aluminium or iron pot will have a tendency to turn yellow as the cauliflower reacts with the compounds whereas in an iron pot the cauliflower is likely to turn a brown/blue-green colour. A top tip for if your cauliflower turns yellow while cooking add a teaspoon of either milk or lemon juice.

The cauliflower and broccoli are grown exactly the same way the only difference is why one turns green and one stays white so do you know why cauliflowers are white? While the plant is growing the head of the plant gets surrounded by heavy green leafs which shield it from sunlight. With out this exposure to the sunlight, photosynthesis can not take place, and therefore the plants production of chlorophyll can’t take place.

Cauliflowers can keep for up to a week in the fridge but make sure that the head is stem side up to stop the collection of moisture. For best taste it should be eaten as soon as possible. 

 

Product of the month - strawberries

Strawberries and cream or ice cream. Oh yes.

Strawberry cheesecake. Mmmmmmmm.

Strawberry crumble. Amazing.

But why not try something different with our prettiest fruit?

How about strawberry and spinach salad. It's easy. Just combine 500g spinach with 1 large punnet of strawberries, sliced finely, and a handful of toasted pecan nuts.

And dress with raspberry vinegar, sugar, 1 teaspoon of mustard powder, vegetable oil of your choice and 2 teaspoons poppy seeds. Season to taste (you don't really need any with this salad, bt it's up to you).

It may sound like an odd combination but it's addictive.

And for the grown ups, it's strawberry daquiri time!

Blend 4 ripe strawberries with 2 teaspoons of white sugar, 35ml of white rum, a teaspoon of strawberry liqueur or strawberry schnapps if you have it, the juice of a lime and an ice cube. When the mixture is well blended pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with half a strawberry.
Chin chin!

Product of the month - peas

Now is the time to buy the first of the season English peas, in the pod. The earlier in the season you get them, the more delicious, and expensive, they are, but they are worth it

They are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Protein, Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin and Manganese.

Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a pea flower. However, they are considered to be a vegetable in cooking.

They are delicious raw. They're a great treat for children instead of sweets, and much more fun!

They make a lovely salad. Try a simple garden pea salad, made with raw or cooked peas and a dressing of your choice - olive oil-based or creamy. Add boiled eggs, spring onions and, if you like, cheese. Reccommended is a fresh mix of peas, feta and mint with good olive oil, generously seasoned with salt and pepper, wiht just a splash of lemon or white wine vinegar.

Raw peas make a great hummus-style dip. Blend them with garlic, oilive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, to create a great dip or sauce.

Boiled or steamed they're a great accompaniment to any meal, but there's no reason they shouldn't be the star of the show.

Try this recipe for pea soup, from the Yes Peas website. You won't regret it:

30g butter

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 small leek, white only part, washed and chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock

150ml double cream

Sea salt and black pepper

750g peas

1 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped

Melt the butter in a large heavy based saucepan; add the onion, leek and celery and cook gently until the onion is soft, season with sea salt and black pepper. Stir in the stock and cream. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for approximately 5 - 8 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Add the peas and thyme and bring to the boil and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the peas are just tender. Do not overcook the peas. Remove from the heat and blend the soup until smooth, season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Product of the month - honey

It's springtime and the local honey is flowing at the GVG!

We have three local honeys to choose from: Colne Valley Honey, produced in Slaithwaite by Paul Webley; Scape Honey, produced in Scapegoat Hill by Mike and Sue Shaw; and Joyce Jones' Yorkshire Honey, produced in Elland.

None of these honeys are processed. They are strained to take out the impurities and heated gently to 40-50C to get the honey into jars, but they are raw, unfiltered, pure and natural.

Thousands of people swear by honey as a natural remedy for hay fever. A spoonful a day, preferably starting well before the pollen season, is said to reduce the symtoms significantly and in some cases completely.

The principle behind this is desensitisation. The pollen bees collect is the heavy-grained variety that doesn't cause problems. But, honey being sticky, it may also contain small amounts of the lighter, wind-blown pollens that inflame the lining of the nose and eyes. These are chiefly from grass and trees such as birch, which normally begin to blossom around the third week of April and trigger allergies in a quarter of hay-fever sufferers.

Those who believe in this remedy say time is of the essence. Apparently once the symptoms start to appear, honey won’t be much of a cure or a benefit. So it’s best to start before the pollen season begins. That way your body gets used to the pollen before it starts flying up your nose -  so now is the time if you want to try it.

Studies have shown that as an antibacterial and healing agent honey can be better than over-the-counter remedies for coughs, colds and sore throats. With hay fever however, evidence is anecdotal. Bee-keepers are wary of making extravagant claims because, although many people are convinced of its effectiveness, it doesn't seem to work for everyone.

Nettle tea is known to be a natural anti-histamine. Adding a teaspoon of honey will sweeten it up a little, and could help prevent hay fever.

Whether you're looking for a  natural remedy or not, you can still enjoy honey for it's delicious sticky sweetness. We love it drizzled on porridge, or as a substitute for sugar in baking and cooking.

Honey mustard salad dressing is a simple classic - honey, olive or rapeseed oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Or try whipping up a creamy one with honey, mayonaise, lemon juice and mustard. It also makes a great dip.

Honey's fabulous in stir fries and marinades, it's great on roasts, epecially duck or ham, and it's wonderful with cheese. To make a simple starter, grill slices of goat's cheese log and serve with green salad leaves, figs, a drizzle of runny honey, and a slice of ham if you like. Yum.

Carrots: January Product of the Month

This months “product of the month” is the good old dependable carrot. Carrots can be cultivated or also found growing wildly; they both belong to the species Daucus Carota. Carrots can be traced back to the pre 900s in Afghanistan and the surrounding areas, at this time however carrots were purple and yellow. Carrots didn’t reach English shores till the 1400s and were mainly red and white.

It wasn’t until the 1500s in northern Europe specifically Holland that orange carrots (the norm now) first got introduced. I say introduced because there is a tale which suggests that the “orange” carrot was bred in the Netherlands during the 17th century in honor of William of Orange (King William III of England and head of state in the Netherlands 1689) but this story is very unlikely, and that is was simply just a natural mutation.

During World War II carrots were one of the vegetables that were available in high supply, and therefore used as a substitute for scarce food. They also played the role in the “Dig for Victory” campaign and known as Dr Carrot who also had his friend Potato Pete. It was also during this time that the popular saying of carrots will help you see in the dark came about, as people tucked into them believing they would help them see during blackouts. Carrots were also believed to be used as a ruse to help hide the success of the RAF and to keep the airborne vision system a secret.

Here are some other fun facts about carrots that you may not know. 

  • Carrots were first grown to be used as medicine rather than food. 
  • The average person will consume 10,866 carrots within their lifetime.
  • In the future carrots could be used to fuel cars, as a different type of bio fuel, it would take approx 6000 carrots to run a car for a mile. 
  • Carrots are travelling 60% further on UK roads compared to the 1970s ( this can be applied to most food). 
  • Buying loose carrots (like those that can be found in the shop) rather than pre packed carrots, is better for the environment, as these are bulkier and create more transport pollution and more waste.

Sprouts: December Product of the Month

Sprouts - scientifically known as Brassica Oleracea - form part of the Brassicaceae family and is grown for its small leafy green buds which look like little cabbages. Brussels sprouts as we now come to recognize them are thought to have first grown as early as the 13th century in Belgium. It is thought that early versions of sprouts were grown in early Roman times. The first written record of sprout production is in 1587 during the 16th century in southern Netherlands. Brussels sprouts need a temperature range of between 7-24°C to grow with the best yields experienced between 15-18° and will be ready for harvest 90 to 180 days later. Sprouts contain good levels of Vitamin A,Vitamin C, Folic acid and Fibre. Brussels sprouts can last up to 5 weeks in near freezing conditions before wilting and discoloring and half as long at fridge temperature. In Europe the largest producers and exporters of Brussels sprouts are the Netherlands, producing 82,000 metric tons followed by Germany at 10,000 metric tonnes. The UK is on par with the production of sprouts with Germany, but we don’t tend to export them. Brussels sprouts along with other greens such as cabbage and broccoli contain Sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anti cancer properties. Boiling the sprouts reduces the level of anti cancer compounds therefore steaming, microwaving and stir frying are the best options for cooking the sprouts. Which ever method chosen the key is not to over cook them as this is when the sulphurous odour is released and that is what puts many people off eating them. Generally they take 6 to 7 minutes to cook.First Moonraking lantern workshop today at 10am at the Community Centre Whether you’re like me a hater and has one a year at Christmas with lashings of bread sauce and a quick swig on something nice afterwards or someone who loves them cooked or raw (like Carol) there are many different recipes out there let us know your favorite and look out in the shop for some, I am sure they will appear in the run up to Christmas.

 

P.S If you're a local grower and you have some spare sprouts this winter then lets us know we are always on the look out for local produce and producers.

Parsnips: November Product of the Month

 

The parsnip is a root vegetable, related to the carrot. Parsnips are paler in colour and also carry a sweeter flavor. Parsnips are most commonly served cooked, either boiled, roasted or in stews and casseroles. It is believed that much of the parsnips flavor is to be found in the skin, therefore many recipes call for the skin to be left on. It seems to have been forgotten that parsnips can be eaten raw. The word Parsnip comes from the French word Pastinaca, the “nip” was added to indicate the resemblance to the turnip.

Parsnips are the ideal vegetable to be grown in England as they do not grow well in warmer climates, as a frost is needed to develop their flavor. It is the first frost which turns the starch in the parsnip into sugar.

Parsnips prefer sandy, loamy soil (sand, clay, silt and organic matter) but don’t like rocky soils as they produce forked roots.

For centuries the parsnip was a nutritious and staple vegetable throughout Europe. In the Middle Ages it is believed that babies sucked on parsnip roots as pacifiers. Parsnips were around before sugar and therefore parsnips were used to sweeten dishes such as cakes and jams. It was only after the introduction of the potato that they declined in popularity, and even more so when sugar became more readily available.

Parsnips provide the body with high levels of vitamin C, fibre, folate and potassium (Potassium is known to lower blood pressure.

Parsnips should be firm and dry. The likelihood of a parsnip having a tough, woody core seems to increase with size. Irregularly shaped parsnips won't taste any different.

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