Blog: A day out at the farms!

We had a wonderful sunny day visiting Nutbourne Nursery and Rock Farm with nutritional blogger Zoe Delicata to talk about the power and beauty of local food…

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The gates of Rock Farm lead to a world of deliciousness!

First stop – the tomato jungles of Nutbourne Nursery!  

Did you know, in order to keep Sussex’s favourite tomatoes pesticide-free and ridiculously flavoursome (last summer, in our #EatSussex interviews, these were consistently declared the most loved Sussex veg. See V and H’s delicious Nutbourne tomatoes recipe here), Nutbourne meticulously cleans their glasshouse windows every year. This isn’t just your usual spring clean – this is serious tomato-perfecting business!

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Perfectly cleaned glasshouse windows for the most delicious tomatoes you can get your hands on!

What’s more? These glasshouses are also home to pollinating bees – the most essential worker in our food system. Without these workers, a huge proportion of food simply wouldn’t grow. These glasshouses are doing a fine job of keeping our bodies healthy, taste-buds satisfied and environment healthy!

From sweet, small cherry tomatoes to hearty marmande beef tomatoes to stunning cocktail tigers, you don’t need to source from far away to cater to diverse and exotic tastes. Out favourite? Cocktail tigers. Green, sweet, tart, this tomato is adds an instant element of culinary beauty to your foods – an easy and delicious win.

Nutbourne Nursery has the art of growing healthy, delicious tomatoes well and truly mastered. And it’s no surprise – after 40 years of growing, tomato perfection is pretty much guaranteed!

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It’s always summer in the green houses! These pesticide-free, bee pollinated tomatoes are positively bites of summer goodness…
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Glasshouses home to pollinating bees – ensuring us (delicious) food security. 

Next stop – our favourite: Rock Farm.

This market garden and therapeutic garden in one both enjoys experimenting with unusual local grows (Sussex sweet potatoes anyone?) and helps vulnerable community members gain confidence and life skills. Rock Farm is paving the way in Sussex for community care, providing us with incredible, nutritious and delicious organic produce and giving back on a social level. ‘How it should be‘ is certainly fast becoming the Sussex motto…

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Rows of berry bushes soaking in the Sussex sun…

Garden manager Rachel enlightened us as to the many wonderful delights growing (from berries, herbs, golden beetroots, unusual potatoes, salads, tomatoes, sea buckthorn – and more!) and what’s planned for this wonderful plot, as well as sharing some brilliant stories about volunteers changing their lives for the better.

Did you see their mustard flower salad mix? Stunning – and delicious!

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Rachel shows us the beautiful and sweet golden beetroot growing in the poly tunnels… 

Is there a particular food from us that you enjoy and want to find out more about where it’s from? Let us know! We’re eager to share the wonderful farms and work of our ethical and enthusiastic growers here in Sussex…

Shop Sussex tomatoes here and keep an eye out for summer salad from Rock Farm, coming very soon… 

Happy eating!

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Blog: A day out at the farms!

If you care about preserving the local natural environment – then this beef is for you!

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When you think of a marsh, what comes to mind?

Probably not an area of outstanding beauty. But, as the flat planes of West Sussex sweep into the sea, saltmarshes form a beautiful – and vital part of the Southern coastline.

The saltmarshes of West Sussex, surrounding Chichester, Pagham and Langstone, are bursting with biodiversity. A delicate ecosystem home to a myriad of rare creatures, flora and fauna, over farming, invasion of foreign species and urban pollution (to name a few) are a threat to the delicate balance, and the land is in need of protection.

Fortunately, Three Harbour Beef, a co-operative of small farmers, ethically and traditionally rearing livestock for market, are using traditional land conservation techniques to preserve and maintain this important land. You can enjoy delicious, ethical beef and help to support the future of the Sussex saltmarshes.

Why are saltmarshes so important?

More than just an area of  natural beauty; saltmarshes are an important transition between land and sea, providing a bounty of biodiversity. One of the richest natural habitats in Sussex, saltmarshes offer an essential feeding ground for wading birds and wildfowl, sheltered nursery for sites for fish and a wealth of plant biodiversity for invertebrate (you can find a number of rare plants, such as Sea Barley).

Some of the species that you might expect to find in Sussex saltmarsh include:

Redshank (Tringa totanus),
Bass (Dicentrarchus labrax),
Shore crab (Carcinus maenas),
Starwort moth (Cucullia asteris),
Sea aster (Aster tripolium),
Glasswort / marsh samphire (Salicornia).

And this is just to name a few! If you’re familiar with this area, let us know in the comments what you’ve seen.

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So, how do cows contribute to land conservation?

These swathes of land provide coastal grazing marsh where responsible, selective livestock grazing is incredibly beneficial for the natural habit. Lowlands, wetlands and heathlands were once traditionally grazed at low intensities and without this grazing (from the loss of traditional farming methods), scrub and invasive plants take over and the delicate ecosystem is dismantled. More-so, neglected land encourages abuse such as industrial, agricultural and urban dumping – a poor fate for the Sussex coastline.

Three Harbour Beef is helping to manage and preserve this biodiverse area of natural beauty through this exact method of low intensity livestock grazing, on a small-scale using locally bred cows. Cattle are particularly beneficial as they don’t graze too low down, and aren”t selective about what they eat, helping to preserve the botanical diversity while maintaining the area.

Traditional land conservation provides local, flavoursome beef and secures the future of these stunning Sussex grasslands – perfect!

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How is the beef from this land different?

The flower and herbal rich, salt-tinted grass imbues the meat with a unique flavour and outstanding quality. But, most important, ethically and environmentally friendly, Three Harbour Beef offers happy cows, low food miles, and helps to protect and support wildlife on the marshes.

Sussex is truly leading the way for ethical food production…

Care about preserving the stunning local natural environment, and want delicious, uniquely flavoured and ethical local beef?

Get in contact with Muir or Nick today! Email Muir@FinandFarm.com or call 07966972530.


Image 1: Saltmarsh at Easthead by Natural England/Flickr (CC)
Image 2: Galium sp by –Tico–/Flickr (CC)
Image 3: Drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds by Dave_S./Flickr (CC

If you care about preserving the local natural environment – then this beef is for you!

Busy? Try this easy + delicious pak choi recipe for quick weekday greens!

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Looking for a leafy green that’s easy to clean, simple to prepare, quick to cook, and unbelievably delicious?

Then, we’ve got the vegetable for you…

Local pak choi!

Seriously underused, Sussex pak choi is a superstar in the kitchen and positively one of the healthiest foods you can eat (take a look at this link for evidence of pak choi’s super-powers).

Our #EatSussex favourite is grown by Toni, our wonderful Italian farmer over near Arundel.

Sweeter, crunchier, and more digestible and quicker to cook than it’s more popular cruciferous cousins, it’s about time pak choi became a kitchen stable – rather than the occasional visitor. There are a million delicious ways to use this plant (basically, in place of any greens in any recipe you choose).

Did you know?

This leaf goes by many names, and you may be more familiar with bok choy or Chinese cabbage.

These leaves last a long time, but if you really want to be #zerowaste, simply place the base in a jar filled with a little water. Not only will this keep the plant going even longer, it will even regenerate a lack lusture plant that’s been left to long, or help grow when you’ve eaten most of it already…

Hungry?

We decided to share a tasty, fiery, flavoursome side we love to whip up now this leaf is back on the menu.

We love to serve this up as a side to whatever we’re eating that night – and it’s so versatile! Whether it’s meat for Nick or vegetarian options for Muir and Connie, these greens are an exciting and pleasurable part of our diet. These Sussex greens only need an accent of flavour – grown in healthy soil and on a small scale, this local leaf truly tastes superior.

Quick, easy and delicious chili-garlic pak choi

You’ll need
2-3 heads of Sussex pak choi, sliced or whole leaves
Mesto Olive Oil
1/2 medium chilli, deseeded and cut into rounds
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Seasoning

Method
In a large wok, heat a splash of oil. When hot, add in the garlic and chilli. Cook until the flavours start to meld and throw in the pak choi. Stir quickly for a few minutes until the pak choi starts to soften and is well combined with the garlic and chilli. Season well with black pepper and a pinch of salt, if desired. A squeeze of fresh lemon also helps to bring out the  beautiful flavour of the pak choi.

And, that’s it! Enjoy!

You can find Sussex pak choi here on our website. 


Image 1: Bok Choi by Tom Taker/FLICKR (CC)

Busy? Try this easy + delicious pak choi recipe for quick weekday greens!

Cultured butter – what is it and why is it so good?

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Cultured butter – what is it?

You may have seen some of our Instagram posts raving about this particular Sussex dairy. Cultured butter is a distinctive butter – unlike any you can easily buy.

Richly flavoured and tang reminiscent of creme fraiche, this melt-in-the-mouth dairy is created by adding live bacteria to butter before churning. Regular butter, also known as ‘sweet butter’, is simply churned fresh cream.

Why is it so good?

Adding cultures to butter creates a wonderfully different butter to the one you’ve grown accustomed to. How exactly?

Adding cultures:

  • Gives it a tangier taste.
  • Gives it a higher fat percentage, making it smoother, silkier and richer in flavour.
  • Makes it more healthful and digestible through the light fermentation process.
  • Adds an acidity that is perfect for baking.

Once upon a time, cultured butter was the norm. Culturing – or souring – dairy was a natural process for before contemporary refrigeration and ensured that it lasted longer. When pasteurization came into practice, natural cultures were killed off, and ‘sweet butter’ (uncultured) became the household standard.

Cultured butter, however, is still popular across the continent – and we’re thrilled to be offering it at Fin and Farm.

The secret to making the best, tastiest butter?

By starting with quality, flavorsome, rich cream. Fortunately, this is what we do best in Sussex with our small-scale, artisan producers. And, nobody knows Sussex cream like Knob Butter, the makers of our exquisite cultured butter. Their butter is made from cream from small, family run local dairies that rear cows in a traditional and gentle way. Ethical, sustainable, healthy – you can taste the difference!

Our suggestions for enjoying…

On fresh, crusty bread, with some Perfectly Preserved blood orange and bergamot marmalade or raw Sussex honey, for simple, honest, delicious local flavour…

You can find Sussex cultured butter HERE.

Brighton Butter, Cultured

Cultured butter – what is it and why is it so good?

Surprise yourself with local sorrel

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What is sorrel?

This leaf may look mild and unassuming – but, pop some into your mouth and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at it’s sour, lemony flavour.

Tart, citrusy sorrel (sor-uhl) is a wonderful spring ingredient to play with. Spinach-like in appearance (but much more exciting in flavour) add a citrusy element of delight to your cooking.

How to use?

For salads, chop mature leaves and use like a herb, or add baby leaves whole to a variety of other greens. Enjoy raw in pestos and smoothies (really!), or temper it’s tartness by cooking in soups, stews, or anywhere in place of lemon (a great #EatSussex alternative!).

Bright green, healthy looking leaves bring the best flavour – store in the fridge or place stems in water and wash before cooking to maintain freshness.

Need some inspiration for using this wonderful spring herb?

Sussex Sorrel Soup

This charmingly green soup is perfect paired with local, crusty bread and salted Southdowns butter. Best enjoyed after a long tramp in the Sussex countryside…

You’ll need:
A generous dab of Southdowns Sussex butter
2 medium biodynamic Sussex onions, diced
3 cloves garlic (or replace some of the local greens with a generous handful of biodynamic local wild garlic)
A handful of fresh English thyme
Black papper
A pinch of cumin
1 large flavoursome local potato, diced
A good handful of local greens of choice, chopped
A generous handful of biodynamic Sussex sorrel (save a few leaves to garnish)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 can of white beans

Method
In a large pan, heat the butter and saute the onions, garlic, thyme and spices until the flavours meld. Add in the potato and cover with stock. Bring to the simmer and cook until the potato is tender. Towards the end of cooking, add in the fresh, local greens (including the sorrel) and cook until tender, but still a pleasant green.

Once cooked, blend thorough and add in the white beans. Serve garnished with fresh sorrel, and enjoy this creamy, lemony, green soup with a side of crusty, local bread…

Want to get your hands on sorrel?

Supermarkets may offer the illusion of choice, but you’ll be pushed to find this refreshing, bring leaf. For local, biodynamic sorrel brimming with flavour and healthfulness, go to our website today!

Sorrel, Bunch, Biodynamic


Image 1: Sorrel by Lori Erickson/ FLICK (CC)

Surprise yourself with local sorrel

Seasonal cheese – it’s really a thing!

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Did you know that cheese is seasonal? 

When you think of flavour and cheese, what comes to mind? A distinctive, tangy brie or creamy, milk Stilton?

Well, it’s not just about the type of cheese your buying. Nuances in flavour are directly impacted by the environment. You may already consider yourself a cheese aficionado –  but, there’s a whole new level of appreciation of dairy to discover when you consider natural environment and seasonality.

So how, exactly, is cheese seasonal?

It’s all about plant life, of course! Just as late summer apples and spring asparagus have their seasons, the diet cows eat is determined by the seasons. During winter, cattle are sheltered from harsh, biting weather, eating a diet rich in hay, silage and grain. As a result, winter cheese is often the creamiest and tangiest cheese you’ll find. As calving season comes in, milk is richer and higher in fat and protein.

As the weather mellows, a diet rich in green leaves makes for a mild, light and softly-flavoured cheese. An abundance of wildflowers over the summer, and greater variety of plant-life imbues cheese with complexity of flavour and floral notes. Late season dairy returns to a grassier flavour, as flowers die off and greens become a staple once again.

So, for local, artisan cheeses that have escaped the fate of homogenisation for large markets, the seasons provide one of the most intriguing determiners of flavour. From Sussex summer meadows filled with wildflowers to cold winter nights and piles of locally harvested hay – Sussex cheese really is unique!

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Eating seasonal cheese:

If you want to taste the seasonal pleasures of cheese – turn away from the supermarket. With commercial cheeses made to taste homogeneous and consistent in flavour, small, artisan and local producers will open up new worlds of flavour to even the most expeirenced cheese lovers.

The advice from one cheese connoisseur? Enjoy fresh cheeses from the months March to October, and aged cheeses (approx. 6 months) between October and March to make the most of the beautiful summer notes. Of course, all cheese varieties are different. So get to know you’re favourite varieties and how they are made – and observe the seasons to discover worlds of flavour!

Explore our incredible range of Sussex, small-batch cheeses and tell us: What’s your favourite season?

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Image 1: Drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds by Dave_S./Flickr (CC
Image 2: Galium sp by –Tico–/Flickr (CC)

Seasonal cheese – it’s really a thing!