A vegetable that was a staple on Victorian dinner tables is making a comeback, as Waitrose introduces salsify in 100 shops within the hope of inspiring UK customers with a style of the previous.
Frequent within the 19th century however largely forgotten in British kitchen cabinets at this time, the basis vegetable is being equipped by Albert Bartlett, the Scotland-based potato agency.
Salsify is described on the packet as having a delicate flavour, “slightly like a gentle artichoke, maybe with a hint of liquorice or, when cooked, some even declare to detect a touch of oysters.”
The vegetable featured within the Victorian basic Mrs Beeton’s E-book of Family Administration, first printed in 1861.
In a single recipe, she advises: “Scrape and wash the salsify, reduce them into small evensized items, throw them into boiling water, and add slightly butter, lemon juice, and salt. Boil gently till tender, after which drain nicely. Warmth up in slightly well-seasoned good white sauce.”
The vegetable might be out there at Waitrose within the black selection, grown in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, in addition to a small quantity of white salsify, which is grown within the sandy soils of Ayrshire in Scotland. The crop is harvested between September and December and might be on the cabinets, in 350g packs for £2.99, till the spring.
Waitrose stated the revival was a part of a broader development of accelerating buyer demand for conventional meals and components. The grocery store chain, a part of the John Lewis Partnership, can be introducing Fenland celery – fashionable in Victorian Christmas markets in London – in chosen shops.
Grown within the flat deep peat fields of East Anglia utilizing a conventional rising method, Fenland celery is whiter than normal celery and has a candy and nutty flavour.
Conventional turnips are additionally rising in popularity, with gross sales up 37% in contrast with final 12 months, in keeping with Waitrose.
“Each salsify and Fenland celery are largely forgotten greens that have been favoured in Victorian England as a consequence of their versatility, particularly in the course of the winter months,” stated Gary Grace, vegetable purchaser at Waitrose.
“Over current years we’ve got seen lots of the conventional cuts of meat come again into favour and we hope that prospects will really feel the identical about salsify and Fenland celery and luxuriate in these greens as soon as once more.”
Though a lesser-known vegetable in UK properties at this time, salsify remains to be fashionable in continental Europe the place it has been grown predominantly in Italy and France for the reason that center of the 17th century. Additionally it is fashionable amongst cooks.
Michel Roux Jr, the Michelin starred chef – who can be a “model ambassador” for Albert Bartlett – stated: “Salsify is among the most versatile and engaging root greens – from uncooked in a coleslaw to roasted with spices. Actually scrumptious.”
Waitrose is that includes recipes comparable to salsify tagliatelle with bacon and chilli and roast salsify with lemon and garlic to coincide with the launch of the vegetable in a few of its bigger shops this week.
Nina Cooper, a meals developments professional on the consultancy Dragon Rouge, stated: “Shoppers are endlessly on the hunt for a discovery and wish meals with a narrative – an heirloom selection, a heritage breed, an fascinating grower, an area farm. The rediscovery of a long-forgotten vegetable might nicely pique curiosity, notably once we’re all seeking to eat extra healthily and would actually welcome a distinct texture or an edge of recent flavour.”
“And once we’re in unsure occasions we do are likely to search for consolation, so a veg with strong, Victorian roots would possibly simply match the invoice.
“For the Instagram era, it’s not precisely a looker on shelf. However now ugly, wonky veg are proper in vogue possibly we are able to be taught to like its nobbliness, too.”