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  • Annie Dunne

Spring Seasonal Treasures - The 5 GRATE innovations

Hello Foodie Friends!


Welcome to this week's edition of our Food Innovation Newsletter!

As March approaches, nature offers us a tantalising array of seasonal ingredients bursting with flavour and freshness. In this edition, we're diving deep into what's "bang in season," exploring the culinary wonders that February and March bring to our tables. From the citrusy tang of blood oranges to the earthy allure of wild garlic, and the delicate sweetness of forced rhubarb, these seasonal treasures inspire chefs and food innovators alike to create delectable dishes and inventive products. And innovation is high, as these seasonal stars are making waves in the culinary world and on supermarket shelves. From innovative product launches to creative recipes, there are endless possibilities for Spring season ingredients. What in-season ingredients are you using in your business? How are you communicating this with your customers? Perhaps the five examples here will inspire you.


As always, enjoy the read, and reach out if you wish to discuss any of the content further, I'd love to hear from you,

Annie x


FORCED RHUBARB (GROWN IN THE DARK)


One of the delights at this time of year is vibrant forced rhubarb with its mesmerising bright pink hue. Forced rhubarb thrives in idyllic Yorkshire, and it is protected by European Designation of Origin status since 2010. Robert Tomlinson is a fourth-generation rhubarb farmer from Yorkshire in northern England. The farm, located in Pudsey, West Yorkshire, has been in the family for more than 140 years. This English Farmer Grows Yorkshire Rhubarb in the Dark and Harvests by Candlelight During Winter. He tricks the rhubarb into thinking that it’s spring by warming them up. They grow the roots outside in the field for two years and then, in the second autumn, the roots go dormant. After it’s been cold for a period of time, they go through a process of re-energizing and then they start to grow again in early December. They then lift the roots, take them into the dark sheds and keep them warm and they grow using energy stored up for more than two years. Amazing! 




BLOOD ORANGE


I love the unique floral tart taste of blood oranges, they are one of my favourite fruits this time of year. They have superb antioxidant properties which gives blood oranges their distinct colour, but it also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. And just in time for Spring, the clever people at Little Moons have done it again with their most recent launch. Blood orange & pink grapefruit. Perfectly combining the sweetness of blood orange with the zesty tartness of pink grapefruit. If you've not tasted a Little Moon, you have not lived! It's a sorbet wrapped in soft rice dough. They are gluten Free & vegan Friendly, not to mention how moreish they are! 



NETTLES

Spring is a great time for foraging. As well as bountiful amounts of wild garlic, you can also be on the look out for Nettles. There are an abundance of delicious and healthy nettle recipes, including nettle soup, nettle tea, nettle pesto or even a nettle smoothie (I have not tried this one with the kids yet!) One of the wonderful products on the market which includes Nettles is Wicklow Gold Nettle & Chive. Made by The Hempenstall family, who have been milking cows on a small dairy farm at Curranstown, Arklow, Co. Wicklow for the past 50 years. The nettle & chives gives another layer and a unique texture to their handmade Irish Cheddar.



CHICORY

Like rhubarb, chicory is a forced crop that's cultivated in absolute darkness, which creates its unique white leaves tinged with yellow tips. The crisp leaves have a subtly bitter flavour profile and are delicious eaten in a salad or with a simple dip. But have you tried Chicory root syrup? Sold by Homespun, this wonderful product is a healthy alternative to honey and syrups and contains less than a 1g of sugar per teaspoon. It is extracted from fresh chicory roots, and is used just like honey, bringing a little sweetness to your favourite foods and drinks. The huge benefit is that it is scientifically proven to keep your blood sugars low so it doesn't cause any blood sugar spikes, plus its high in gut healthy prebiotic fibre. It's a staple on our breakfast table now. 



WILD GARLIC

Wild garlic has one of the longest seasons of the wild plants. The small, tender micro herb-like shoots start to appear from mid-February, with the plant reaching its full, leafy glory in late March. Around mid-April, the beautiful salad-enhancing star-shaped flowers blossom. And during its season of abundance, it's just wonderful to be able to cook with it in so many ways, from soups to pesto to dressings. This innovative and organic liquid wild garlic, from Virtue Food means we have access to wild garlic outside prime season. Without losing any of the goodness, the flavours are instantly absorbed into the dish. Long shelf life of up to two years, even after opening & stored in ambient temperatures. A wonderful invention for Wild Garlic lovers!



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