Medlars: What To Do With Them?

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Once adored by the Victorians, Medlars were loved as a sweet treat for their caramel-apple flavours. Every Sussex resident would have known what to do with them! But today, Medlars have fallen from our culinary know-how as a result of some pretty unflattering names (cul-de-chien anyone?) and a lengthy ripening process.

But why miss out on this delicious, historic and locally grown fruit? With a flavour somewhere between applesauce and dates, medlars can be enjoyed raw or used in any number of recipes. Our medlars come from Ringden Farm on the Kent/Sussex border, so are definitely an #EatSussex discovery.

How to ripen

You can’t eat medlars when they’re firm and green – they need to blet ( i.e. go ‘beyond’ ripening.) This process is necessary for other fruit, such as quince or  persimmon to undergo before they’re edible. Store them in a cool, dark place until they are soft, dark brown and slightly wrinkled. This should take about two weeks.

How to eat

With a flavour somewhere between apple-sauce and dates, medlars can be enjoyed raw or used in any number of recipes. Mash and enjoy with creamy, local yoghurt for a caramely breakfast treat, make into jelly to eat with cheese. Or, how about baking in a cake?

Autumn-spiced medlar cake

This dark, sticky and aromatic cake has a wonderful texture and caramel depth of flavour. We recommend enjoying with thick local cream or served warm with heavenly cool vanilla icecream.

You’ll need:

200g medlars, stones removed and mashed to a pulp
85g walnuts
60g salted butter
80g caster sugar
75g muscovado sugar
2 free-range eggs
180g flour of choice
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Method:

Preheat the en to 180°C. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy, adding in the eggs until well combined. Stir in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate and spices until well mixed. Stir in the medlars and walnuts.

Spoon into a buttered baking tray and cook for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, and enjoy!


Have you tried medlars? How do you like to enjoy them? Let us know in the comments or tag us on social media! (@finandfarm).

Recipe inspired by Bucksedwood.org.uk
Image: Ripe Medlar by Filip Maljkovic/ Flickr (cc)

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Medlars: What To Do With Them?

Mini Recipe Roundup! #EatSussex Inspirations…

If you’re curious about some of the #EatSussex August dishes we’ve been eating, here’s a few snapshot recipes to (hopefully) inspire you to try some 100% Sussex-sourced cooking. Quality is essential for creating delicious food, and with unusual varieties from small-scale producers, our #EatSussex meals are a joy to eat. Believe me, you haven’t eaten kale until you’ve tried our amazing organic red kale…

Garlic Crushed Comfort Potatoes

A comfort recipe for delicious garlicky crushed potatoes. Using our amazing Sussex grown potatoes really add flavour and texture!

You’ll need: 
4-5 flavoursome medium-sized Sussex potatoes (we used Pink Fir Apples)
4 -5 cloves of garlic, peeled (we got ours from a friend with an allotment!)
A generous glug of Mesto Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes whole in salted water. When al dente, add in the garlic cloves whole and continue to boil until the potatoes are fully cooked. When soft, drained and crush the potatoes, garlic and a generous amount of olive oil with a potato presser or fork. This should be fairly roughly crushed – not a smooth puree like conventional mashed potatoes. Season well and serve with greens, a stew, pulses, sausages – anything you like!

IMG_0870 (3)                     Try different potato varieties to discover delicious flavour nuances!

 

Kale and Potato Soup

This recipe was created after a craving for leek and potato soup. We didn’t have any Sussex leeks, so we adapted with very good results!

You’ll need:
Mesto Olive Oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium Sussex onions
Several flavoursome Sussex potatoes
A generous bunch of kale
1 generous tsp cumin
1 generous tsp black pepper
A few stems of fresh rosemary
Rosemary and hemp bread to serve.

Saute the onions in a good serving of olive oil. When they started to soften, add in the garlic, cumin and black pepper. Roughly chop the potatoes and add to the pan. Cover with water, adding the rosemary, and allow to slowly simmer until the potatoes are soft (approx. half an hour). At the end of cooking, add in the fresh kale, roughly chopped, and continue to cook for a few minutes until the kale is tender.

Serve steaming hot with slices of fresh wholemeal sussex bread! (We love our rosemary and hemp recipe for extra flavour).

kalesoupA satisfying evening meal of beautifully flavoured kale soup.

Spiced Summer Apples

If you want something that’s a bit of a treat but still on the wholesome side, this seasonal apple dish will satisfy. With borage honey, sweet-sharp apples and notes of cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger, you’ll be dreaming of this dish for summers to come…

You’ll need:
2 tart discovery apples, diced
1 good teaspoon of borage honey
A splash of Elderberry liqueur
1 generous tsp mixed spice
1 tub of creamy biolive Sussex yogurt

In a pan with a splash of elderberry liqueur,  simmer  the chopped tart discovery apples with a teaspoon of honey and mixed spice. Cover and simmer until the apples are soft and the flavours have melded (about 15 minutes). Serve hot with cool, thick, creamy biolive Sussex yogurt straight from the fridge.

summerapplesPink discovery apples are worth waiting the year for!


Do you have any #EatSussex recipes? Use the hashtag #EatSussex and post to your social media so that we can see and share your seasonal discoveries and cooking adventures!

Mini Recipe Roundup! #EatSussex Inspirations…

Pursha and Cucumber Cake: an #EatSussex experiment

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August may be the perfect month for summer fruit (have you tried gorgeous sweet August cherries  or tart summer plums?), but sometimes you really just need a little indulgence. And, while we’ve been baking bread, cooking up stews, and experimenting with plenty of savory foods, we haven’t cooked up any #eatsussex desserts…

…until now!

Muir whipped up this pursha and cucumber cake using only Sussex grown and sourced ingredients (#EatSussex adapted from a Veggie Desserts recipe). Which means – no sugar! Our Sussex sweetener of choice? Local, raw runny honey from Blackman Bee Farm.

This cake was delicious – though definitely far from a conventional cake in regards to flavour, texture, and, well, everything. Made with a robust and fruity tasting wholemeal flour, it didn’t exactly form the airy base of a Victoria sponge. With plenty of honey to sweeten, the result was more a dense, buttery ‘honey-bread’ with citrus notes than conventional cake (which still sounds pretty good to me).

Recipe

1 medium cucumber
A handful of pursha (or use an unwaxed lemon)
200g wholemeal flour
2 eggs
150g butter
150g honey
A pinch of baking powder

For the glaze
2 tablespoons of Gin
2.5 tablespoons of raw honey
(we recommend using lemon juice, but we did’t have any Sussex grown lemons!)

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease a 9 inch round cake tin.

In a food processor, blitz the cucumber and whole purshas/lemon. Add in the butter, eggs and honey and process to combine. Next, to the wet ingredients, add in the baking powder and flour and thoroughly blend until a smooth cake batter in formed (Yes, it’s that easy!).

Pour the batter into the cake tine and bake in the oven for 30 minutes/until golden brown. Allow to cool and remove from the tin.

For the glaze, whisk together honey and gin/lemon juice to form a liquid.  Pour over the cooled cake  – and enjoy!

cake.pngMuir enjoying a slice of cake.

What did we learn about making #EatSussex cakes?

It’s not so easy! Without sugar and white flour, a traditional fluffy, sweet cake is off the table. But still, we loved this wholesome alternative. Next time, we might even make a vegan version (as soon as we get those apples in for apple sauce…) In the meantime, though, it might be easier to stick to easy summer crumbles and Sussex yogurt with honey and berries…

Do you have any #EatSussex dessert ideas? We love cooking up gorgeous produce and using Sussex-sourced ingredients, so if you have some favourites or baking inspiration – let us know in the comments!

PURIngredients for baking.

Pursha and Cucumber Cake: an #EatSussex experiment

Raw Sussex Honey from Blackman Bee Farms

Mickelmus Blackman and his bee smokery from last summer

Mickelmus Blackman started beekeeping from one hive in his garden in Hove and quickly developed to a few hives before starting his ethical, sustainable beekeeping enterprise.

From his hives dotted around Brighton and Hove, we have the wonderful Raw Honey – both set and runny.

From his work with other farms in the Sussex area, Mickelmus also produces English Heather Honey and English Borage Honey.

Honey_Sussex

How raw honey is good for you

Raw honey has a wealth of uses and benefits which we explored in our blog earlier this evening from cough mixtures to cake sweeteners and even shampoo and face wash.  Studies by Glasgow University have shown that honey other than just Manuka, which is famous for its antibacterial properties – also have useful bacterial fighting qualities.  And fresh honey produced on your doorstep is surely better in terms of freshness.

Plus the carbon footprint to bring you this honey is tiny when you consider it’s collected and bottled all within a 30 mile radius.  Some commercial honeys are the collective produce of lots of producers and even different countries before being freighted to a bottler…despite their pure labels.

Runny_honey_Sussex

Heather Honey (English)

A perfume that is almost herbal.  Nick says it has a citrussy kick to it.  The texture is grainy like large salt grains from the comb and it’s a dark set honey.  A lovely honey to spread on thick wholemeal toast.

Borage Honey (English)

Lightly scented and ivory clear. The flavour is delicate and smooth and not overly cloying in terms of sweetness.  This would be a good natural sweetener for drinks or cakes or drizzling over pancakes.

Raw Honey, Runny (Brighton and Hove)

Sweet and with a rich honey flavour with almost a very slight smokiness to it.  Deliciously light and smooth texture.  The colour is a beautiful strong gold and again, would make a fabulous breakfast honey.

Raw Honey, Set (Brighton and Hove)

A velvety texture and a buttery creamy flavour.  Now this seems like the perfect Sunday morning honey.


Raw Honey Roasted Beetroot and Carrots

carrotbeetroot

Ingredients

  • 4 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp raw runny honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 beetroots, quartered
  • 25g pumpkin seeds
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped.

First simmer the beetroot in its skin until tender and cooked through.  Cooking in the skin is easier than peeling as you can just rub this off with your thumb when cooked.

Heat the oven to 180 degrees/160 degrees fan/gas 4.

In a bowl, toss together the carrots, vinegar, honey and olive oil.  Spread on a baking tray and roast for 30 mins.

About 5 mins before the end of cooking, add the beetroot and return to the oven.

When cooked, leave to cool a little, then toss with the pumpkin seeds and chopped parsley.

Keep this local with a raw cider vinegar with mother from Ringden Farm and Mesto Extra Virgin olive oil produced in Crete from the family farm of Brighton based Cate and Vasillis.

Visit our website at www.finandfarm.co.uk

Raw Sussex Honey from Blackman Bee Farms

Howgate Wonder Baked Apples With Rhubarb

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Of course, we always recommend our Bramley apples from Ringden Farm over near Etchingham – BUT on this occasion we urge you to try the early Howgate Wonders.  When they are picked early they are mild and citrussy but their flavour mellows over time.  They are a different kettle of fish to the Bramley so ring the changes with a traditional Edwardian cooking apple.

This recipe waxes lyrical about eating outside on a summer’s day – but since apples and rhubarb are at their sweetest and best, we will have to sit by the radiator and pretend.

A note about the recipe….we wouldn’t bother with the demerara sugar, sticking as we do to a good local honey…especially a borage honey if you can find it, for the fragrant rosy flavour and aroma.

We also sell delicious creamy yoghurt but the large tubs are generally to special order, as most people prefer low fat, these days.

To overcome this and keep variety in our fridge, we often have a pot of Northiam Creme Fraiche and mix with low fat yoghurt (if we mix it – it’s so rich and creamy, it’s tempting to leave as is)…it gives another layer of tart depth to the flavour which works well with the malic acid in the apples.

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Baked Howgate Wonder apple and rhubarb with vanilla-honey yoghurt

Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 6 apples
  • 150g of rhubarb, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 15g of butter
  • 1 tbsp of Demerara sugar, to sprinkle
  • 200g of Greek yoghurt
  • 40ml of honey
  • 1 vanilla pod
1  Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.
2  Score each apple horizontally to slightly pierce the skin – this allows the flesh to expand while cooking.
3  Core the apples by pushing an apple corer down through the apple until it pierces the bottom, discard the core. Repeat for all apples.
4  Mix the rhubarb, brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Stand the apples up side by side in a baking dish.
5  Use your fingers to push the rhubarb mixture into each apple, dividing the mix evenly.
6  Add a blob of butter to the top of each and sprinkle over the Demerara sugar.
7  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the apples are cooked through – you can check this by piercing the apples with a skewer.
8  Meanwhile, split the vanilla pod in half with a small knife. Scrape out the seeds and add to a bowl with the yoghurt and honey, whisk to combine.
9  Remove the apples from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve on plates with the yoghurt. Drizzle over the juices from the baking tray.

 

Recipe by Nathan Outlaw – Great British Chefs

Howgate Wonder Baked Apples With Rhubarb

Parsnips – from starter to dessert

Parsnips

Our organic parsnips from Toos in Cuckfield..over the back of the Sussex Downs, are really sweet and not at all fibrous.  Nick is a massive fan and loves this time of year when the van smells rooty and aromatic (honestly, ask him when you see him and he might get a bit poetic about it).

Continue reading “Parsnips – from starter to dessert”

Parsnips – from starter to dessert