Produce report: October 3
Telegraph and lebanese cucumbers, too, are more widely available and are dropping in price, good news for the fancy English sandwich lovers among us, for fans of cooling tzatziki or raita and for those who simply cannot get enough of those go-with-anything refrigerator pickles.
Try this recipe for easy Burmese pickle with fried shallots from Viva which uses either lebanese or telegraph cucumbers. It goes well with seared tuna or roast duck and lots more besides. Will keep refrigerated for about one week.
Fresh herbs always help spur culinary creativity and the variety is increasing now the weather is warming. If you don’t have a herb garden, a trip to your local farmers’ market should see you right.
Joy at the sight of a lush bunch can quickly turn to despair, however, if those herbs are not stored correctly and, before you know it, the leaves have blackened or wizened and the stems turned slimy. Firstly, don’t wash herbs until just before using.
Soft herbs (think parsley, tarragon, mint, dill, coriander) can be stored like flowers, the bottoms trimmed and the bunch stored in a glass of water which should be refreshed every couple of days. Cover loosely with a plastic bag, which helps retain moisture, and refrigerate. Basil should never be refrigerated, but it will be some months yet before we’re harvesting that!
Hard herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano) should be wrapped loosely in a paper towel and then placed in a sealed plastic bag or container. Hard herbs can also be frozen in ice cube trays, covered in olive oil, to be added later to cooked dishes. When using herbs, add hard ones at the start of cooking (or chop very finely and add sparingly at the end). Soft herbs are added at the end of cooking so their more delicate flavour won’t be overpowered.
For a still-cool night, try Amanda Laird’s slow-cooked lamb shoulder with olives, oregano and orange, flavoured in the Greek way with oregano.