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Joe Hind’s Scottish food year: June and the joys of berries and broad beans

A month-by- month celebration of great Scottish food by Joe Hind who works for the food and farming charity Soil Association Scotland. He writes here in a personal capacity.

Published: June 27, 2017
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It’s June. Just let that sink in.

It’s June! Somehow we are halfway through the year yet it feels like it’s hardly started. Spring is still very much in the air. Should-really- be-April showers are happening right now.

And yet, our food marches on. Not literally of course, that would be weird (cue surreal visions of cows goose-stepping into the sunset) but things that need warmth and light to grow are now receiving both and growing accordingly.

And so it is that Scottish berries are on store shelves, or in punnets if you’re a PYOer.

This year’s berries are sweeter and juicier than usual due to a warm and bright Spring.

Periods of intensive sunlight have increased the speed at which fruiting plants produce their sugars.

As you may recall from distant chemistry lessons, heat acts as a catalyst within chemical reactions.

The sugar in berries is the direct result of one of the most fundamental chemical reactions on the planet – photosynthesis. It’s a process that quite literally turns sunlight into sugar. Awesome.

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Why don’t I have a gadget on my desk that does this? Over to you NASA or Tesla, or whoever wants it.

Broad Beans

Picture: Joe Hind

Berry plants are very cunning. They must have realised at some point in their evolutionary journey that distributing hundreds of seeds was made much easier by attaching them to bright, shiny and oh so sweet and juicy morsels.

It seems a shame that nowadays berries get eaten by people who don’t re-distribute their seeds effectively.

Without going into too much detail, we’re far too sanitary to make good seed distributors.

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We’re basically tricking berry plants into making lovely things for us with nothing in return.

They’re sitting inside their polytunnels in blissful ignorance, imagining their offspring littering the countryside when in fact they’ve been rendered inert at a sewage works.

Next time I eat berries I’m going into the woods afterwards… or maybe I’ll just chuck a few of the mouldier ones into next door’s garden. Share the love! Sorry Duncan.

Ingredient of the Month

Rather than go for berries, which are delightfully abundant, I’ve chose another harbinger of early Summer as ingredient of the month: the humble broad bean.

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Actually, is it all that humble? I suspect broad beans are rather smug, certainly next to their stringy cousins, then runner bean.

Broad Beans

Picture: Joe Hind

Broad bean plants are easy to spot in fields with their neat rows of mid-height stalks, white patchy flowers, and soft grey-green leaves intermixed with the characteristically chubby bean-pods.

Those that were planted early, perhaps last year, will be ready about now.

A certain kind of comfort can be had from buying broad beans whole and taking a bit of time and attention, perhaps sitting outside on a deckchair with a bowl by your feet and with a handy child to help, to release handfuls of bright green beans from their fluffy, soft pods into a bowl.

It’s an early summer treat to boil them for just a few minutes before eating hot and steamy (the beans, not you!) with a little butter or olive oil.

I never bother de-skinning the podded beans but some people find the outer skin a bit too strong or tough. Until the next time…

• Connect with Joe: Instagram & Facebook: @GoodScottishFood Twitter: @ScottishFoodJoe

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