September Newsletter 2009

           
Hi and welcome to September’s newsletter.

All of a sudden it seems to be autumn. I can’t quite believe how quickly that has happened! We will very soon be emptying out the tunnels for their annual clean up which can be quite mucky and labour intensive. It’s a bit of a wildlife bonanza too as there are plenty of toads, frogs and newts under the trays which are moved from one tunnel to another as we go and lots of fat slimy slugs that are not. Some tunnels have benches that need to be crawled under for sweeping and weed pulling and these are popular haunts for a multitude of different sized spiders. There is no room for sqeamishness………….

All of our chilies have been sold – just a couple of each variety left for sampling and photography purposes. We grew three varieties this year;

Habanero

This is supposed to be one of the world’s hottest chillies and originates from South America, particularly Mexico though it is thought to have arrived there from Cuba. It has a roundish but irregularly shaped chilli that comes in a variety of colours – yellow, orange, red, green and excitingly brown, this one being known as chocolate habanero – it might be one to try for next year. Heat rating 10.

 
Habanero Chilli

 

Hot Wax

This is a Hungarian chilli which is bright yellow before turning red. It is a cylindrical shape growing to 6-8 inches in length. Heat rating 4.

 

Hot Wax Chilli

Jalapeno

One of the most popular chillis worldwide which originated in Mexico from the city of Jalapa from where, it is thought, the name derives. They have been used extensively in cooking since the time of the Aztecs. They matures into red chillis about 6 inches in length. Heat rating 7.

 
Jalapeno Chilli

 
The riper the chilli the hotter it is, the hottest parts being the ribs and the seeds. All chilli plants like lots of sun and benefit from regular feeding – a tomato feed is fine. There are absolutely loads of different varieties producing chillis in an assortment of colours. They are pretty easy to grow, you just need to remember they won’t tolerate our cold weather and need to be started off indoors in the spring. Remember when it comes to moving them outside that slugs also like them.

Claire, Helard, Tony and I had a little tasting session with the chillies. Although Stu was there he was a right girls blouse and refused to taste any. The first one we tried was the hot wax both the unripe green ones and the red. Neither were hot – they were lovely, fresh and juicy in flavour. The only jalapenos we had were still green and though you could feel a bit of heat they were pleasant and tasty. The habaneros were a different matter – I took the first piece and chewed enthusiastically, as did Helard and Tony. Claire watching our reactions dabbed a small piece on her tongue. They are strong chillies there is no doubt and they burn your mouth. Mr asbestos mouth Tony tried a second piece before admitting defeat. They make your nose run and bring you out in a sweat. This is whilst they are still green. I wouldn’t like to give the seeds a go.

This week we had a barbecue on the farm to celebrate a couple of birthdays: Helard, who has reached the grand old age of twenty four and Claire, whose age I’d better not say. We all brought a dish with us for consumption – and it is Tony’s that I’m going to reproduce here for, as well as being very tasty, it is made with aubergines, the plants of which we have been selling until recently. We grow two varieties; Black Beauty, a purple one and Snowy, a white variety. Aubergines are closely related to tomatoes – they are both in the solanacea family. They require warm temperatures and so a cold greenhouse is ideal although they can also be grown outside if the site is sheltered and sunny. In pots they will require feeding and, as with chillis, a tomato fertilizer is fine. They are quite thirsty plants and need regular watering as, if they dry out, it will lead to a check in their development.

Think that’s it for this month. Enjoy the light evenings while you can.

Lorraine.


Recipe for Baba Ganoush (Middle-Eastern aubergine dip)


Ingredients
2 aubergines

2 garlic cloves
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini
Large pinch ground cumin
Pinch ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
Chopped parsley, to serve

Method:
Preheat the grill to high. Prick the aubergines with a fork and grill them, turning occasionally, until the skin blisters and blackens all over. (Can also be roasted in hot oven or fried gently to achieve same effect.) When cool, peel off the skin. Leave the aubergine flesh in a colander for 15 minutes to drain off excess liquid.
Pound the garlic and salt until smooth with a pestle and mortar, or whiz in blender. Add the aubergine flesh, lemon juice, tahini, cumin and pepper. Whiz or pound to a thick purée. Adjust the seasoning and lemon juice to taste. Transfer to a bowl, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with parsley and serve with warmed pitta or flat bread.