In Larder Land


I have always kept a list called ‘eat now’ magnetically attached to my fridge door. It is a reminder list of what we need to eat that is available in the garden and what is in store and the freezer.

However, I didn’t realise until now that the ‘larder list’ is actually a real thing, known to chefs and foodies alike. (Heck – who has a larder these days)? The larder list is the opposite of a shopping list. It asks the question what have I got? And what could the menu be? This is a concept known to locavores and slow food people who approach eating with seasonal raw materials in mind.

And then I was listening to Dan Barber the American chef on the Food Programme, 27.3.17. ‘The Third Plate’, talking about ‘nose to tail’ cooking for plant foods. This means using everything that farmers produce, and eliminating crop wastes.

At my garden level I fine tune what I grow to suit our eating patterns and preferences. My cooking and eating are closely designed around the garden outputs and so the two are neatly in tune, and there is very little wastage. My ‘larder list’ reminds me on a daily basis what we need to be eating. In April, it still says one squash (although I actually have squash fatigue), and a lot of frozen berries, tomatoes and ratatouille. Along with things ready in the garden, chard, purple sprouting broccoli and perennial kale.

In my garden I have been seduced by the allure of new varieties, and have put in 12 strawberry plants ‘Elegance’ and 12 ‘Malling Centenary’, both billed as the best ever performers, with exceptional flavour. And they claim to crop in their first year, so I will not have to wait long to find out if these descriptions are true.

And who knew that Myrtus ugni had been renamed Ugni molinae,(I didn’t). The Chilean Guava was introduced to England in 1844 by William Lobb and apparently became Queen Victoria’s favourite fruit! I have never eaten one, but I have just put in two plants and am looking forward to the first tasting in 2018 maybe? James Wong has bred a variety called ‘Ka-Pow’. It is a shrubby evergreen, growing up to 3m with pink flowers and red fruits.

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