Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: May 2009

The only British vegetable to enjoy ‘European Union Protection of Designation of Origin’, this little cultivated new potato is the first variety of the season to appear. Grown commercially on the island of Jersey since early in the 18th centuary, replacing the islands then main crop of cider apples. These new potatoes now comprise 75% of the islands agricultural output, producing a maximum yield of 50,000 tones every year. Regarded by many as the Champagne of potatoes, with a season starting in mid March and running through to the end of July. They have a sweet, nutty flavour with a firm, dense texture, creamy colouring and distinctive kidney shape. Versatile, but best cooked simply with a little butter, fresh mint and sea salt. Still cultivated using traditional methods that were established in the 1100s. Despite modern advances in farming techniques they are still seeded by hand in the autumn ready for planting, again by hand, in January. They are fed on a natural fertilizer produced from local seaweed. The early crop is planted on the steep island slopes, a process which is completely undertaken by hand. Later crops are planted during March on the islands flatlands. Tales abound as to how the Jersey Royal came into existence. Island folklore suggests that it was simply discovered growing on a hillside. Another tale recounts that a 17th century local farmer Hugh de la Haye attended a dinner party with an extremely large potato, found growing on his farm. The potato was cut into 16 portions, a piece for each guest, and planted on a steep slope. That spring a large crop of rounded tubers was produced, with one plant in particular producing the classic kidney shaped potato which we know today. High in carbohydrates and fibre, low in fat and with the skins containing good levels of vitamin C and B. Never peel a Jersey Royal, simply wash away the flaky skin prior to cooking. Serve sautéed with spring onions, smoky bacon and cherry tomatoes. Or tossed in balsamic vinegar and walnut oil together with a little garlic, mustard powder and chopped parsley. Mix with grilled goats cheese, pine nuts and fresh figs. Cook on a barbecue for about an hour. Or roast in goose fat with fresh rosemary and thyme.

Watercress A cultivated aqueous plant with edible leaves and hollow stems, native to Europe and Asia. A barssica and closely related to both cress and mustard, the small green or occasionally red leaves have a distinctive peppery flavour. An invasive plant and regarded as one of the oldest leaf vegetables, known to have been grown by English monks in the 1400’s and first recorded in North America in 1847. Latin name Nasturtium officinale.