What is ready to harvest in Early June

Well I really don’t mind eating baby new potatoes, new peas , broccoli and strawberries every day of my life. At least  right now that is what I think, but ask me in a fortnight’s time when I yearn for something else. That is the beauty of growing your own vegetables. First the hours of planning and poring over seed catalogues in the dark winter months; then the careful sowing of seed, and some weeks later, the jubilant transplanting outside. Then the first taste of the very first ripe produce , and several more days of joyful harvesting follow. Then comes the glut and saturation point. At some stage the family will ask for something different tonight please, or could we just have a Chinese takeaway! I wonder how many of you remember gorging on strawberries either in your parents garden, or perhaps at a Pick Your Own farm, and coming home with a rash brought on by eating too many? Or finding that your digestion really can’t cope with any more fibre. Strangely in just a short time you will have forgotten that you were having too much of a good thing, and will miss those days of plenty.( I find that courgettes are the worst culprits for causing   this boredom with excess.  You crave the first delicious tiny green fingers, but quickly end up surfing the net for yet another 50 ways to incorporate courgettes into your diet.)

When faced with a surplus after you really have had enough of the fresh stuff, then you must preserve them somehow for another day many months hence, when you are longing for Summer to come again. And preserve them with respect, and love and care else you will not relish using them up in the ensuing seasons.

Strawberries are the most disappointing to store. Forget freezing them as they turn to mush. The most obvious thing to do with them is make a jam. As we do not eat very much jam nowadays, I prefer to make Strawberry Ice Cream. A really easy recipe is to take a tin of condensed milk, (around 397g, ) and a pound of Strawberries and blitz them together in a food processor. Then whip into soft peaks a large 600ml pot of double cream. Fold all together and freeze. There will be no need to use an ice cream machine for this. Imagine the pleasure you will have bringing this out for a special occasion when there is no fresh summer fruit around anymore.

Peas freeze quite well, and still taste sweeter than bought frozen ones if you pick yours young and freeze them straight away. Ignore most recipe books’ advice, and really only blanch them for around 30 seconds in briskly boiling water, and then, absolutely essentially, plunge them into a sink full of iced water to halt the cooking process. I find that if you are doing several batches, then have two huge pots of water on the go at once, but not more than half full each, and when one batch is blanched simply drain it into the other boiling pot using a sieve, so that you can then keep going with a second batch. Put them into large resealable bags when they have drained completely, and you can then use them straight out the freezer just like the bought ones, whenever you want a quick vegetable for a busy supper.

Obviously you will not be storing your baby new potatoes as you will find them so delicious that there will be none left! I really recommend growing at least 5 varieties of potatoes, especially if you grow the ones which are not available in the shops. I grow Epicure, International Kidney ( which is the same variety as the Jersey Royal, which is always at such a premium) , Charlotte, Pink Fir Apple and Arran Victory which has the most beautiful Lilac skins and which makes the most fragrant and fluffy white mashed potato EVER

This year, I have been trying a new form of Sprouting Broccoli which is like the Tenderstem stuff you can buy. Stupidly, I lost its seed packet, and can’t remember its name, although I am sure it has been around for years. Alarmingly, it produced rather quickly  its central flowering head which was on the small side for a usual broccoli plant. However it is producing numerous sideshoots at a rate of knots after this warm and wet weather. I hope it keeps going for a good long timeIMG_0448

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