The British Sea Kale season is now upon us! Advertorial by Westlands

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th January 2017

With British sea kale now in season, specialist growers, Westlands, give us more information about the unique plant.  

Join the revival of this British native coastal delicacy; cultivated and blanched by specialist grower, Westlands, available as part of their Taste of the Sea collection.

Learn about Sea Kale

Sea kale
Sea kale

The plant

• Common names also include Sea Colewort, Sea Cabbage, Scurvy Grass and Halmyrides

• Its botanical name Crambe maritima is from the Greek Krambe meaning ‘cabbage’ and maritima ‘of the sea’

• It is a member of the cabbage family, Brassicaceae

• Its origin is the Atlantic coast of Europe, including Britain, along the Baltic coast and around the Black Sea

• Sometimes compared to its close relative the cultivated colewort, a primitive open-headed Medieval cabbage. It is classified as a different species to standard Kale

History

• Sea kale is mentioned in some of the earliest food references

• Once a common sight on British beaches growing above high tide mark; shingle would be heaped up around the crowns in spring to ‘blanch’ the emerging shoots

• The Romans preserved it in barrels for sea voyages, as its high vitamin C content helped against scurvy

• Sea kale reached its height of popularity in the early nineteenth century. It was mentioned in Thomas Jefferson's Garden Book of 1809 and was served to Prince Regent George IV at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton

• As with other foraged plants, it is now illegal to pick from the wild without the landowner’s permission

sea kale
sea kale

Cultivation

• Once a common cultivated vegetable in Britain and France until around the Second World War, a few named cultivars were developed such as ‘Lily White’

• Sea kale is propagated by seed or root cuttings called ‘thongs’

• In late winter and early spring mature crowns are lifted, forced and blanched; very much like rhubarb. Harvesting is limited, as not take too much energy from the crown

• The blanching process creates a real delicacy - however stalks exposed to sunlight will turn green and bitter

Culinary

• The entire plant is edible; roots, shoots, leaves, flower buds and pods. Its best known for its tender, blanched ivory shoots; classically served much like asparagus with hollandaise sauce or just melted butter

• Its taste is described as a cross between white asparagus and celery – a subtle, tender, almost nutty flavour with a slight salty sweetness

• Leafstalks are eaten raw in salads; lightly steamed, boiled, pan fried or roasted; even pickled or fermented

• Classic food partners include white fish, shellfish, poached eggs, bacon, hollandaise or béchamel sauces

Westlands Sea kale is British grown in the Vale of Evesham and is now available in 2 size formats; Sea kale – the classic blanched, crisp white stalks with a subtle saltiness [80 g punnet] Micro Sea kale – NEW! Mini spears of delicate, salty white shoots [40 g punnet]

Seasonal availability – December to May

Westlands products are available nationwide from leading Foodservice suppliers and Wholesale Markets. Speak to your supplier or contact us at [email protected] to find a stockist in your area.

Westlands products are grown and packed to BRC Food Safety, Red Tractor Assurance and LEAF Marque standards. Sea kale is best stored away from light to prevent ‘greening’.

Come and see Westlands at the Great Hospitality Show, NEC on January 23-25, 2017, stand 660 in partnership with The Staff Canteen.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th January 2017

The British Sea Kale season is now upon us! Advertorial by Westlands