FROM THE EARTH

Q: What is a corm and how does it differ from a bulb?

With August comes Winter’s last hurrah; the skies get clearer, the days warmer and the heart warming casseroles, sausages, roasts and stews begin to give way to fresher, lighter dishes. So, before the turn of the seasons calls for lighter, healthier Spring menus- why not make the most of the earthy, rustic flavour (and the cost-efficiency) of this season’s  bulbs, roots, tubers and corms.

CELERIAC: aka Celery Root

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Classification: root

Availability: all year, best Mar – late Sept

Market Update: quality is currently good and price steady

Appearance: creamy brown, knobby tuber with white flesh

Flavour: rich texture & slightly smoky flavour – cross between celery and parsley

Preparation: don’t wash until use, peel tough outer layer. Think remoulade, soups, chips, or as a side (boiled, steamed, mashed). Raw they are often grated in salads (use lemon to prevent discolouration after cutting)

Health Benefits: good source of dietary fibre and Vit C

 

FENNEL:

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Classification: bulb

Availability: generally Mar- Nov, best Jul-Sept

Market Update: large fennel bulbs are one of our best buys this week- good supply, good quality and well priced

Appearance: firm, crisp white- light green bulb made up of overlapping stems

Flavour: light, slightly sweet aniseed flavour

Preparation: every part of a fennel plant is edible. The leaves have a stronger flavour

Health Benefits: good source of fibre, Vit C, folate, potassium, manganese and beta-carotene as well as phytochemicals and flavonoids

 

BABY FENNEL:

Classification: bulb

Availability: Mar – Sept

Market Update: Supply and quality good- prices fair

Appearance: small fennel bulbs

Flavour: slightly richer aniseed flavour than regular fennel. Leaves are stronger, base is sweeter and less pungent

Preparation: both leaves and base are edible. Fantastic in Mediterranean dishes, they are compatible with sweet and salty flavours. Think salads, soups, casseroles, fish dishes

Health Benefits: good source of fibre, Vit C, folate, potassium, manganese and beta-carotene as well as phytochemicals and flavonoids

 

GARLIC:

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Classification: bulb

Availability: local season: October-May

Market Update: good supply and quality, currently imported from Mexico, Argentina and China

Appearance: vary in colour from white to pink to purple

Flavour: distinctive, pungent and aromatic

Preparation: preparation technique heavily influences the garlic experience. Break down the cells more and you get a more intense flavour (i.e. crushed is much more intense than slicing)

Health Benefits: natural antibiotic, also assists in management of blood pressure & cholesterol 

 

JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE:

Classification: tuber

Availability: best June – Sept

Market Update: steady supply and quality good, prices at standard levels

Appearance: light brown skin, crisp white flesh

Flavour: nutty, rich, sweet

Preparation: can be eaten raw or cooked as per other tubers ( baked, chipped in soups,  salads, stir-fries). Once peeled coat with lemon water to prevent browning

Health Benefits: suitable for diabetics and large amounts of iron, good source of dietary fibre provides some folate and potassium

 

ONIONS:

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Classification: bulb

Availability: all year

Market Update: brown onions are great buying at the moment, quality, supply & price good across all lines

Health Benefits: rich in antioxidants, red varieties are also good sources of Vit C and dietary fibre

BROWN:

Appearance: golden brown skin with cream white flesh

Flavour: strong onion flavour

Best use: retains flavour under heat therefore great for cooking

RED: sometimes called Spanish onions

Appearance: red-purple skin with white, red-streaked flesh

Flavour: sweeter than brown, can still have a pungent onion flavour

Preparation: raw in salads or cooked

WHITE:

Appearance: white skin and flesh

Flavour: mild onion flavour

Preparation: raw in salads or cooked

SALAD ONIONS: red or white

Appearance: immature small bulbs on a green stem

Flavour: mild, sweet onion

Preparation: the salad onion

 

BLACK SALSIFY: aka black oyster plant

Fresh from the market

Classification: root

Availability: generally all year, best autumn/winter

Market Update: quality good, price steady

Appearance: long, slim root with black bark like skin and white flesh

Flavour: creamy, earthy taste some compare to oyster or artichoke

Preparation: wear gloves to avoid staining hands, peel then coat immediately with lemon/vinegar water to prevent browning (often easier just to peel after boiling then prepare as desired).

Health Benefits: particularly good for diabetics, good source of fibre, manganese, potassium, riboflavin, Vit B6 & C

 

TARO:

Classification: corm

Availability: different for each variety but usually best May-Aug

Market Update: good quality available and prices steady

Appearance/Flavour/Preparation: for more information on Taro varieties click here

Health Benefits: 3 times the dietary fibre of potatoes, low GI, excellent source of potassium, good amounts of Vit A & C, as well as some calcium and magnesium

 

To find information on more root and tuber varieties- such as ginger, galangal, jicama, horseradish – click here or explore our blog- www.sgssydney.com.  

 

A: A corm is an underground, swollen stem that houses a plant’s food stores allowing it to endure periods of shortage (such as winter). While they may appear strikingly similar to their bulbous comrades, corms are very different internally- being made up of tissue housed in a thick skin (called a tunic) in contrast to the layered structure of modified leaves seen in a true bulb. If you’re ever in doubt cut it open, a corm will be solid inside whereas a bulb will have discernable layers. Interestingly,  bananas are a corm- often mistaken for a tree, banana fruit is actually produced on a pseudostem, which.. you guessed it… grows from a corm.

 

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