Waitrose is the first supermarket to introduce British sea kale. The delicate cousin of kale is revered in culinary circles for its mild brassica flavour, which is described as a cross between celery and asparagus.
The forced stems of sea kale are available from March to June, but the labour-intensive growing technique has meant that the vegetable has not been commercially available until now.
Waitrose buyer Tom Moore says, ‘We’re thrilled to be re-introducing
sea kale back to the UK. We’ve taken three years to perfect this new
crop - it’s been a real labour of love. Sea kale is a classic British
vegetable, which can be simply steamed or even fried to give it a crisp
texture. It’s also delicious served with hollandaise.’
A fast favourite amongst top restaurants and foodies, sea kale appears on leading menus across the capital, as well as being popular with home gardeners. Raymond Blanc even grows his own sea kale at his Oxfordshire restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.
Not surprisingly, Sea Kale originates from the coast, but is cultivated
in greenhouses in Worcestershire by Westland Nurseries who specialise in
growing edible flowers, micro leaves and sea vegetables. Planted in spring,
the seeds are left throughout the summer months to grow, until December
when the leaf dies and is then removed. The growing process then begins
again, with the light completely removed from the crop. The late January
sunshine warms the soil in the greenhouse which encourages the first shoots
of the Sea Kale. With the light removed, the shoots grow into blanched ’fronds’,
which are then harvested and ready to eat.
The Sea Kale is available from Waitrose as part of the Waitrose Mixed Sea Vegetables, (£2.49) which launches from the 1st February.
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