Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 612

11 AUGUST 202 2 18 FOOD&DRINK First Bites Photography: James King wouldn’t get the same quality or yield. “Even so, as a crop, it has its challenges. Sweetcorn developed from the starchy field maize that farmers grow for cattle feed, which cows love but humans definitely wouldn’t. Sweetcorn was bred to have less starch andmore sweetness, but seeds need a certain amount of starch to get going, so the better the taste, themore di cult it is to grow. We’ve done a lot of work with di erent varieties over the years to get it as sweet and juicy as it is now. “It’s also really important to us to farm sustainably – the quality of the soil and the biodiversity balancemean everything in order to produce healthy and tasty crops. To farm successfully, you need to be a custodian of nature, and we farm the land so we can do it forever. “Our packing facility is powered by our own waste, and we’ll soon be certified net zero across the farm, too. Our founder, Peter Barfoot, was awarded a CBE for services to sustainable farming. “We’re in full swing with the sweetcorn harvest right now, so it’s a busy time and hard work. But there’s nothingmore satisfying than seeing a good crop go out, and knowing that people are soon going to be enjoying it – hopefully on a sunny day in the garden.” It’s sweetcorn time, and Neil Cairns and the team at Barfoots are busy harvesting juicy, golden cobs for the Essential Waitrose range Meet the producer ‘To farm successfully, you need to be a custodian of nature’ “Sweetcorn has become so popular in the UK that it might surprise people to know it’s not an easy crop to grow here,” says Neil Cairns (above). “It likes plenty of sunshine, and it hates cold soils, so it’s not exactly designed for the British climate. “But we’re lucky in that our farms, in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight andWest Sussex, are in a helpful microclimate. We get the highest light levels in the UK, and because the Isle of Wight is to the south west of us, it acts like a windbreak, protecting our mainland crops fromprevailing Atlantic fronts. If we were to try and grow sweetcorn even 20miles north of where we are, we Kitchen classics Ice Creams, Sorbets &Gelati: The Definitive Guide Caroline & RobinWeir RobinWeir fits the template for a particular kind of Englishman – that of the committed amateur. A pharmaceutical company owner by trade, he’s loved ice cream since his first epiphanic taste of amilk and cornflour ice as a London schoolboy in 1949. Since then, his passion has spiralled to the extent that he’s amassed perhaps the world’s largest collection of ice creamparaphernalia – some 14,000 items, ranging frommachines and scoops to books and postcards. So, when it came to composing the last word on the subject, he was well qualified. The result, co-authored with Caroline Liddell, was published in 1993 as Ices: The Definitive Guide and was lauded by Nigel Slater, Delia Smith andHeston Blumenthal among others. Their passion leaps fromevery page, whether explaining ice cream science or debunkingmyths about its history. Marco Polo first brought ice cream to Europe from China? Not a bit of it, they say. It’s highly unlikely he even went there in the first place. The pair o er a similarly withering assessment of today’s industrial ice cream. “Tomaximise profit, manufacturers pump their ice cream full of air,” they write. The book’s recipes, some 400 of them, include marmalade ice cream, quince sorbet, and parmesan cheese ice cream. “We beg you to put aside your prejudices and try this, especially with ripe pears.” Having written the last word on the subject, Robin went back to the day job, though he did compose a similarly exhaustive guide tomustard in 2010. That same year, the pair – nowmarried – released an updated, retitled version of their masterwork, which reflected newhistorical findings and included 93more recipes, with a new chapter on lollies. In this, they were spurred on by “the abundance of [lolly] recipes on the internet that do not work or are frankly inedible”. In an age where it’s increasingly hard to separate sound fromnoise, a definitive guide has never beenmore welcome. Published by Grub Street, grubstreet.co.uk Library must-haves for food lovers