Friday, April 20, 2007

Cornish Early potatoes

The first new potatoes from Cornwall were in the market this morning. They are a good fortnight early, coinciding with the even earlier English asparagus.

As its name suggests, the Cornish Early is the earliest new potato to be lifted in all of Britain, and is known as a ‘short season delicacy’ because it’s in season for just three weeks. Grown only in Cornwall, where the mild winters enable farmers to plant the crop in late December or early January to ensure an early harvest, they have a rich, sweet, distinctive taste and get to the shops within hours of being harvested so they are really fresh.

The crop is relatively small, which means limited availability, and the potato can be recognised by its dust-like skin which rubs off easily. The taste is rich and sweet, as most of the natural sugar has yet to turn to starch, and the texture is floury.

When the first Cornish potatoes arrive I love to eat them just by themselves to enjoy the flavour, with just a dollop of unsalted butter and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

And, as luck would have it, overnight it seems the hedgerows are full of a lovely delicate plant called Jack-by-the-hedge (alliaria petiolata), with tiny white flowers and fresh green, fine toothed leaves that taste mildly of garlic. Shredded they make a wonderful garnish for the spuds.


Susan in Italy said...

I'm so intrigued by "Jack-by-the-Hedge" it sounds yummy. Is it a volunteer plant, or do you grow it?

lindy said...

What an appealing post, a real feel of the season. Those potatoes look wonderful.

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