Our parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes are harvested mechanically in the winter which is a problem with our heavy soil: the crop comes up encased in great clods of earth and even the toughest tractor can get bogged down. To ameliorate this, we rent some land near Exeter which has a much lighter, sandy soil, allowing more reliable access. It also helps reduce fanging in the parsnips (when the root forks into two) although most of this is caused by nematode damage to the root tip.
This week we brought in the last of the crop and early results are looking mixed at best. The parsnips were planted during a particularly dry spell (the soil playing against us on this occasion) and as a result were slow to establish and put on bulk, resulting in many undersized specimens. They subsequently suffered a carrot fly attack, and the damage caused allowed canker to get hold. All told, not so good. They are going through the grading process as I write and it will be a couple of weeks before we have an accurate picture of how we’ve done.
On the plus side, the Jerusalem artichokes look really good and are probably going to provide a heavier yield than expected, so the two crops should balance each other out – always assuming we can persuade you to accept a few more artichokes. It is a sorry fact that parsnips are generally preferred to the humble artichoke. Closer to home we are making steady progress through the purple sprouting broccoli: Rudolph, our earliest variety, is now finished and the Red Spear is nearly done too. Next on the horizon is Red Head which we will start on for the first time this week.
The pick of the our seasonal vegetables to fuel your new year cooking.
These knobbly little roots are a farmer’s dream: easy to grow, with no significant pests or diseases. They do particularly well at Wash Farm – in fact our biggest challenge is keeping them under control. They have a nutty, sweet, almost mushroomy flavour.
order jerusalem artichokes
how to cook jerusalem artichokes
Peel or scrub them, then use in stews and soups. They’re also good roasted in olive oil or sliced thinly and eaten raw in salads. Or try our recipe for jerusalem artichokes and mushrooms in a bag with goat’s cheese.
Another cosmetically-challenged seasonal root (although who looks their best in January anyway?), grown around our Riverford farms. Celeriac endures winter well and has a delicate, celery-like, fragrant flavour. It will keep in the bottom of your fridge for several weeks.
how to cook celeriac
Use celeriac to add depth to stews, mash and gratins or try our recipe for spiced celeriac with lemon.
Man cannot live on roots alone, so welcome the dark green leafiness of the kales. They benefit from slow growth and are at their best after some hard winter weather. This year our cavolo nero (black kale) is all but over, so look out instead for other varieties, including curly kale, which can be as good as cavolo nero once it has had plenty of frost. Store it in the fridge and eat it within a few days.
how to cook kale
You will normally need to discard the stalks before cooking – hold the stalk in one hand and run your other hand down it, stripping off the leaves. Curly kale is best boiled briefly or used in hearty, peasantstyle soups and stews. Try our easy ideas for kale.
In this week’s video, Guy talks about jerusalem artichokes.
what’s what in the box – 29th november 2010