PUBLISHED: 05:32 02 February 2015
ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC © 2010
Make the most of winter fare with these tips from Judith Taylor, our voice of farming from Ludham.
I always think of January as winter proper, without the distraction of Christmas and before dreary and dismal February. I look forward to crisp, frosty mornings, snowdrops, and lazy weekends and evenings in front of the woodburner. What better excuse to enjoy delicious, thick, meaty stews; game; colourful root vegetables; Brussels sprouts; wholesome soups; chestnuts and lots of hot, sticky puds! You can get rid of the extra pounds toiling away in the garden in the spring . . .
January is the time to make your own marmalade. It is a bit of a performance, but well worth it – there’s nothing like homemade marmalade.
A British invention, but made with Seville oranges, which are available now, imported from Seville in southern Spain. These tarter than tart oranges, when combined with sugar, ensure that the predominant orange flavour wins through with a sharp, tangy taste.
If you don’t have time to make your marmalade now, put the oranges in the freezer and make it later; just make sure the oranges you buy are not over-ripe.
Kathy and Richard of Chillis Galore grow their own chillis in the greenhouse in their back garden in Drayton, near Norwich, and Revenge – a great winter warmer – is hand-made by Kathy in her kitchen. Containing red Harbanero’s and Bhut Jolokia Naga chillis plus a little Habanero chilli extract for a bit of extra heat, is
very definitely hot but the fruity flavour still comes through. Great on cheese on toast! If you are really chilly, pardon the pun, give Inferno a go – it’s not for the faint-hearted! Chilli Galore’s wonderful array of chilli jellies, relishes and sauces are stocked in farm shops and delis throughout Norfolk and at farmers’ markets including Aylsham and Wymondham or online at www.chillisgalore.co.uk
Celery is in season now and for those of you trying to shed a few pounds after
the Christmas festivities it is ideal. Celery was originally grown in deep troughs
to promote “blanching”, ensuring paler, less fibrous stalks. Today this is no longer necessary as most modern varieties are self-blanching.
Celery contains pthalides, which are said to reduce stress hormones so reducing
blood pressure. In ancient times celery was used medicinally but not culinarily.
Celery was considered a holy plant by the ancient Greeks. Its leaves were worn by victors in the athletic and musical competitions at the Nemean Games which were held in honour of Zeus at Nemea, rather like the use of bay laurel wreaths at the Olympic Games.
You may feel you’ve had your fill of Brussels sprouts during Christmas but they are at their best now, having had a few frosts on them, making them sweeter by breaking down the starch into sugar.
Top tip: If you buy a fresh stalk rather than loose sprouts, leave it outside the back door and the sprouts will keep for ages.