A TOUCH OF FROST:

Q: Do any produce lines perform better after a frost?

While the recent cold spell and its resulting frosts are producing magnificent black truffles this year, they have had a slightly less desirable affect on the  leaf line crops grown along the Eastern Seaboard.  The impact of the cold weather is evident in the shorter shelf life and diminished appearance of fresh leaves, as well as smaller size heads/bunches due to stunted growth and farmers trimming frost damaged outer-leaves.

 

While all coloured lettuce lines are under pressure, Rocket, Mesclun and Baby Cos have really felt the cold and are not up to their usual standard. Stock will be available over the coming weeks, however premium quality gear will be thin on the ground. It’s not all doom and gloom however, some leaf lines are holding up better than others and our bulletin today highlights varieties that are still performing consistently, if not at peak quality. Over the coming weeks, our recommendation for leaf lines is to buy small amounts regularly and in the case of mesclun- make your own mix from individual products (such as Red Mignonette, Red Oak, Cos, Treviso, Green Oak) as this will help ensure a consistently high standard for all varieties of leaf.

 

COS LETTUCE: aka Romaine

Image: www.perfection.com.au

Supply/Performance: Baby Cos unfortunately is feeling the cold, however full size Cos is still available and holding up well

Appearance: cylindrical, head with tightly folded leaves that are light green towards the stalk and mid-dark green at the edges

Flavour: coarser than iceberg with a sweet taste and crisp texture

Best for: sub for baby cos, though not as sweet

 

GREEN OAK:

Image: www.organicfood.com.au

Supply/Performance: currently available and consistent quality

Appearance: small head of tender, green leaves (shaped like oakleafs)

Flavour: sweet, mild flavour

Best for: creating your own mesclun mix

 

ENDIVE:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Supply/Performance: currently in good supply and sound quality

Appearance: rosette of curly light-medium green leaves with serrated edges

Flavour: bitter edge

Best for: subbing for rocket

 

RADICCHIO:

Image: www.bbcgoodfood.com

Supply/Performance: hardier than true lettuce lines, this chicory relative is currently in good supply and sound quality

Appearance: deep red leaves striped by thick white veins

Flavour: slightly bitter with firm leaves

Best for: creating your own mesclun mix, sub for rocket ( bitter leaves) as it can be grilled, fried or used fresh

 

TREVISO:

Image: www.perfection.com.au

Supply/Performance: a winter variety of radicchio this is currently in good supply and sound quality (Peak Season: May-Sept)

Appearance: elongated version of radicchio – similar in shape to cos

Flavour: slightly bitter though milder than other radicchio varieties

Best for: creating your own mesclun mix, sub for rocket ( bitter leaves) as good fresh/cooked

 

RED OAK:

Image: www.landlearn.net.au

Supply/Performance: currently available and good quality

Appearance: small head of tender, red leaves (shaped like an oakleaf) on a green stalk

Flavour: mild, sweet

Best for: creating your own mesclun mix

 

 

RED CORAL:

Image: www.fruitezy.com.au

Supply/Performance: While green coral isn’t consistent at the moment, red coral is performing quite well albeit noticeably smaller in size

Appearance: loose, wavy leaves that have green stem and dark red leaves

Flavour: mild, delicate sweetness with a slightly bitter edge

Best for: creating your own mesclun mix

 

RED MIGNONETTE:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Supply/Performance: currently available and good quality

Appearance: crisp, curled purple-red leaves on a green stalk

Flavour: slightly tart

Best for: salads, sandwiches and garnishes

 

WHITE WITLOF: aka Belgian Endive, chicory

Image: www.perfection.com.au

Supply/Performance: currently available and good quality – peak season

Appearance: tightly packed leaves that form a white spear with yellow tips

Flavour: crisp, bitter leaves

Best for: soups, casseroles, stir-fries, pasta, risotto, salads

 

RED WITLOF:

Image: www.flowerdalesproutfarm.com.au

Supply/Performance: currently available and good quality

Appearance: tightly packed leaves that form a white spear with red tips

Flavour: sharp, slightly bitter taste- crisp leaves

Best for: soups, casseroles, stir-fries, pasta, risotto, salads

 

A: Absolutely. In addition to truffles (which rely on frosts to develop their unique fragrance), there are a number of other produce lines that reap the benefits of a good cold spell or frost.  Carrots and beets (including baby versions) tend to stay underground longer in the cold and as a result are amazingly sweet when harvested. Cabbage lines (kale, brussel sprouts, collard greens) are also cold weather specialists perfect for soups, risottos, pastas or a ‘mixed greens’ side.

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