We are awash with vegetables; I can hardly remember being surrounded by such bounty and quality in the fields, barns and boxes. We’ve wonderful cos lettuce that Mr McGregor could only have dreamed of, great tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers from the tunnels, the sweetest carrots, sound onions and tasty charlotte potatoes. It has been a near perfect season so far and confidence is returning in the fields, almost enough to make me want to plant more soft fruit; but the memories of the 2012 deluge have not quite faded.
There was a growing drought worry with levels dropping in our irrigation reservoirs and soil moisture near exhausted, but over the last few days we have had over an inch of rain with more forecast this week; just what all those young cauliflowers, leeks, cabbages and broccoli need to help get their roots to the moisture deeper in the soil. With days already drawing in and dews getting heavier, I reckon we are safe. The rain has even drowned most of the flea beetles that have been plaguing us all summer. Without wishing to court disaster, it has been a near perfect year to be a veg grower. All we need now is for you to eat more.
Further south, on our French farm, up to half the early sweetcorn has developed the fungal galls of corn smut, as described last week. It is also known as ‘corn truffle’ or ‘huitlacoche’ in Mexico, where it is considered a delicacy and is sought-after to fill quesadillas. After much research and experimentation including an evening cooking with a chef from Wahaca, I reckon the more adventurous among you might like to give it a go. It is hard to describe the flavour of the spore-filled galls as they are unique; they cook down to a black paste reminiscent of squid ink, and have an earthy bitterness which I love. Great with refried beans, guacamole, tomatillo salsa and corn tortillas. As I write, we are working out a huitlacoche meal kit and recipes which should also be on the website over the next two or three weeks. All being well, you might be able to eat Riverford huitlacoche at Wahaca restaurants this autumn too.