Christmas is a special time of year – and only the best should be gracing our plates!
Our highest welfare, small flock turkeys are just that. From a small Sussex farm, our birds are reared and treated to the highest standard of welfare (we have, of course, visited the farms and can certainly attest to this).
Bronze feathered and white feathered turkeys are reared, slowly and naturally, on a balanced cereal diet rich in oats – with NO growth promoting additives. This ensures a completely natural and richly flavoured meat.
Birds are processed from start to finish on the farm – meaning that they are hand plucked, dressed and dry-hung to ensure the highest quality welfare and meat. Traditional methods are used – and have been passed down on the family farm for generations.
If you’re a little hazy about just what biodynamic is, you’d be forgiven. Is it organic? Something to do with the lunar cycles?
Well, we delved into biodynamic research to bring you the answers…
What is biodynamic?
In a nutshell:
It’s a growing methodology that promotes harmony with nature, healthful crops and biodiversity.
A little more detailed:
It’s a holistic, ethical approach to agriculture pioneered by Rudolph Steiner in the 1920s in reaction to the industrialisation of agricultural practices.
Steiner was alarmed at the increasing devastation of topsoil health with the introduction of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The quality of produce and livestock were affected, and the long term sustainability and benefit of intensive farming methods were called into question.
In Steiner’s philosophy, the farm is a living organism. All components must operate in a harmonious and self-sufficient manner. The name ‘Biodynamic’ comes from two Greek words: bios meaning life, and dynamos meaning energy. Makes sense, right?
How do biodynamic farms achieve this?
Through crop rotation, biodynamic composting preparations and a prohibition of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
It’s one of the most successful and sustainable forms of organic agriculture today! And – truly – it’s the polar opposite of conventional farming methods where profits are prioritised over planetary health.
Steiner was a proponent of certain spiritual and homeopathic methods (such as following a lunar cycle and using herbal and animal preparations in composting). While this is scoffed at, for many growers, a personal connection with their land is essential. If you’ve ever tended to your own piece of land, you have an idea of just how deep a connection goes! Plus, biodynamic herbal compost preparations contain the nutrients and chemical composition needed for healthy soil for plants to thrive in. Why is it better than conventional farming practices?
Topsoil is precious. It’s the reason we have food to eat. It’s the reason we can exist.
There is, however, a limited amount of topsoil to feed, well – everyone.
Biodynamic farms hold a powerful stance in a corporate world that prioritises agribusinesses, where intensive farming practices leave this soil depleted of essential nutrients.
Biodynamic yield will probably never feed the masses as crop yield will never match those of industrial farms. But, with the philosophy feed your neighbor (or, the Sussex community), you can do a pretty good job…
So, is it ‘organic’?
Yes! Biodynamic food is organic – plus more.
Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are prohibited in biodynamic farms. And, while organic certified produce allows the use of organic imported fertilisers, biodynamic growing methods require a farm to produce its own fertility, through composting and crop rotation.
Whatsmore, 10% of a biodynamic farm acreage must be set aside for the sole purpose of biodiversity!
What do we think is the best benefit here at Fin and Farm?
The best thing? The taste and quality of produce – it’s like homegrown! Rich and healthy soil does have definite impact…
What biodynamic veg do we have right now at Fin and Farm?
While they may seem to go hand-in-hand with Christmas in the British kitchen, there’re many ways to enjoy this comforting root veg. We’ve got a few ideas up our sleeve to keep them as a cool-season staple – not a once-a-year show.
From breakfast (really!) to dinner, parsnip’s wonderful earthy sweetness is one you simply need in your life.
Other than their palatability – parsnips are good for you.
Want to create the most delicious food you’ve ever cooked in your life?
Homemade stock is the answer! You’ll wonder how a stock cube could ever compare…
There’s no limit to what you can put in. Simply slowly simmer veg, fresh herbs and seasoning of choice. Sieve the liquid from the main ingredients once cooked, and use immediately or freeze for the future.
Aromatic and sweet parsnips are the key to creating an intense stock. Here’s a recipe for inspiration (plus how to make your own stock powder).
Surprising, I know. But it may just be one of the most delicious things you’ll eat. Flavoursome and dense in texture, carrots can step aside and let parsnips steal the cake show for once.
Finely dice the tomatoes and place in a bowl. Crush the garlic, tear up your chosen herbs and add to the bowl. Season well and generously drizzle with Mesto olive oil.
Let the tomatoes sit and combine with the flavours for 20 minutes or so. Once combined, grill or toast your homemade bread. Top with the tomato mixture and enjoy! Garnish with parsley and little extra olive oil if desired…
How do you love to enjoy fine quality, delicious Sussex tomatoes? Let us know in the comments, on facebook, twitter or IG.
Preheat the oven to 180c. Finely cop the apples and place in a food processor with eggs, spices, lemon zest, oil, sweetener, flour, almonds and baking powder. Blitz until very well combined.
Pour the mixture into a lined baking tin and even out. Place the sliced apples, slivered almonds and a drizzle of extra sweetener on top. Bake for approx. 50 minutes or until golden and a skewer comes out clean.
Enjoy for breakfast with fresh fruit, yogurt and nut butter for a wholesome start to the day!
In a skillet, heat the butter, and add in the honey, zest and cinnamon. Throw in the apples (and a little water/ a splash of autumnal liqueur to help cook) and simmer until soft, stirring regularly.
When soft and fragrant, place onto beautiful serving plates. Top with a serving of toasted nuts, and generous dollop of yogurt, and a swirl of raw honey if desired!
3. The Ultimate Apple Pick-Me-Up
Whether on the go, or need an energy boost, this recipe is the ultimate and easiest way to get in that Sussex apple goodness (other than just eating an apple, that is…). Yep, a Sussex apple smoothie!
Love potatoes? These South America native tubers have been growing and enjoyed in Britain since 1586. They’ve lifted Western Europe out of famine, allowing the populations to prosper well into the 20th century. This delicious tuber is positively a part of our heritage!
Ever been in a supermarket and only found Maris Peer? That’s definitely enough to kill your enthusiasm for a potato dinner…
So, what happened to heritage?
In the first half of the twentieth century, heritage potatoes were grown, loved and cooked in households across the UK. But after the second world war, a devastated country was pressured to bypass the growing of potatoes for delicious nuances. The goal was, instead, to feed a hungry country. Crops were prized for their yield rather than colour and flavour. As commercialism took over and supermarkets began their reign, profit over produce became the commercial mantra.
Why are heritage varieties so good?
With modern breeding practices aiming to make the potato as profitable and uniform as possible, the charm and palatability found in many heritage varieties is by-passed. Heritage potatoes, therefore, are often found with colours, shapes, sizes and textures missing from their commercial cousins. Hmm, no wonder heritage potatoes are so prized! But, with their shorter growing seasons, enjoy heritage potatoes while they’re here…
Waxy ←→ Floury
From waxy to floury, potatoes come in a spectrum of textures. These texture make certain varieties suited to particular dishes and styles of cooking, so it’s always good to know the texture of the variety your buying. Floury potatoes have a high starch content and low water content, with a dry texture that falls apart easily and soaks up flavour. Waxy potatoes are so for their low starch and high water content that can be intense in flavour but not soak up any additional flavours so well. All-purpose fall somewhere in-between.
But, waxy or floury, our heritage potatoes are always delicious. (Move over Maris Peer…)
Bred on Scotland’s seventh largest (and very beautiful) island, the Arran Victory 1918 was created to mark the end of World War One. Round in shape, and with deep blue-pink skin and white fluffy flesh, this potato makes the perfect mash, pie topping or a delicious bake.
This red skinned, red fleshed potato was bred to add a shock of colour to the meals of the Duke of Burgundy. Long oval in shape, sweet in flavour and floury in texture, Highland Burgundy Reds are excellent for striking roast potatoes, chips, crisps and baked potatoes. Keep the skin on to better retain colour!
From a variety of potato still popular today in the Andes, the Inca Belle is a beautifully golden, oval potato. It’s nutty flavour, smooth flesh and unique cooking properties (it’ll cook much quicker than the varieties you’re probably used to!) make it a cook’s favourite. Best forroasting – hands down as we did the heritage roast test ourselves!
The first potatoes in the UK bred from the indigenous Phureja potatoes of Peru, this beautiful variety is a real treat to experience. With golden flesh and skin, a wonderfully moreish flavour, and fluffy texture, this potato is perfect for roasting, mashing and baking.
With pink and white skin, firm waxy texture and moreish flavour, this quick to cook potato is a treat in the kitchen. Best for salads and stews with it’s slightly sweet, nutty flavour and smooth texture.
Originally found in a Dutch crop of classic Duke of Yorks, this potato quickly became popular. With fluffy, creamy flesh, sweet taste and gorgeously red-hued skin, this heritage potato is a fabulous all-rounder. However, these beauties are perfect for roasting as they get deliciously crispy skins.
With light buttery, sweet flesh and floury texture, this indigo skinned potato is a ktichen delight. While the origin of this particular variety is a mystery, it’s been grown in the Shetland Islands since at least the early 1900s. Bake the shetland black whole, in it’s skin, for warming, crisp potato deliciousness.
These small, flavourful potatoes have a deep indigo skin and and intensely purple flesh. They are, visually, perhaps the most striking potato we’ve seen here at Fin and Farm. With a floury texture, it’s best to leave the skin on these potatoes to help retain colour when cooking (plus, it’s tasty and more nutritious!). Best for roasting, baking and mashing for an eye catching twist on some classics!
**not an extensive list of our potatoes! Explore varieties here.**
A Potato Experiment
While these potatoes have their ‘best for’ uses as determined by how floury or waxy they are – don’t be afraid to experiment! Small, waxy potatoes can be delicious roasted whole for intense, crisp flavour bites, thrown into stews, or crushed with oil, herbs and garlic. These wonderful potatoes deserve to be enjoyed any way you like – so let us know what you think each variety is best for and what you’ve been cooking with them!
Bonus! Did you know…?
The potato certainly caused a stir when first introduced to this part of the world, and was treated, at first, with a mix of love and fear. Over in North America, during the gold rush when nutritious food was scarce and gold abundant, there was a time when potatoes were worth more than gold!
Potatoes comes in many, many varieties – much more than a glance of a British supermarket would have you believe. But none could be more distinct than the Vitelotte. With it’s deep purple-black skin and bright blue-violet flesh, this potato has a stunning vivid colour, and distinctive, chestnutty taste.
What makes them purple?
Purple potatoes are packed full of anti-oxidants – and, primarily, the anti-oxidant ‘anthocyanin’, the flavinoid that gives red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables their distinctive colour. Revered for both it’s use as a dye and for it’s health promoting benefits, purple-hued plants have been cultivated for thousands of years for this wonderful antioxidant.
Did you know that purple produce was one of the predicted trends for 2017? With the health and wellness movement taking the world by storm – we’re not surprised! (Plus, purple foods are delicious…)
Why is this so good?
Antioxidants are essential to counter the effects of oxidants (i.e. ‘free-radicals’) in the body. In an antioxidant scarce diet, oxidants are free to cause cell damage, increase inflammation and contributing to disease progression. Purple potatoes, fortunately, have much more than antioxidants than their paler potato cousins – hence the vivid hue.
Anthocyanins are, in fact, antioxidant superheroes and are a potent force of health in the body, as demonstrated by a plethora of in-vitro and participant studies. For example, one study found that adding purple potatoes to the diets of overweight, middle aged subjects reduced their blood pressure by five points within a month. Just by adding potatoes! (And who doesn’t love the idea of eating more potatoes for health?) And, the purple cherry on top: despite the calorie increase, none of the subjects gained any weight. Purple potatoes truly are superior…
What to do with them?
Purple potatoes definitely taste different to your usual supermarket yellow and white varieties – and that’s a good thing! With their nutty taste and magnificent colour (even when cooked), you can use these delicious potatoes in any potato recipe you desire for a twist. Whip up a salad and add vitelottes for a striking visual element; slice, drizzle with olive oil and herbs and roast for some truly spectacular and flavoursome french fries, or how about this recipe for a striking autumn gratin?
Preheat the oven to 180c. In a baking dish, layer the leeks, spinach, squash and potatoes, finishing with a layer of purple potatoes for the top layer. Sprinkle each layer with garlic, herbs and pepper. When layered, pour over the cream and top with the Sister Sarah cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for about an hour and half – or until the potatoes and squash are cooked.