Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 613

18 AUGUST 202 2 18 FOOD&DRINK First Bites Photography: Jake Eastham AGAINST PARTNERS get a really good plum. We’ve been growing plums here since 2002, along with apples and pears. It’s a traditional area for fruit growing, and we’re lucky to have amicroclimate that means we don’t get toomany early frosts, so we’re usually the first to get our plums into Waitrose at the start of the season. “Some supermarkets hardly bother to stock British plums because the season’s short. It’s easier to get them fromSpain, but Waitrose is committed to the British plum season, and as growers, we value that. “People often don’t realise howmany wonderful varieties of British plum there are – everyone knows and loves Victorias, but we grow eight di erent varieties, all chosen for flavour, which come ready sequentially from mid-July through tomid-September. We have a trial area on the farmwhere we try out di erent varieties, always looking for the best flavour, but also for varieties that will extend the homegrown season. “Our name is on the packs and people like our plums somuch, they go to the trouble of googling us, and getting in touch to say thank you. We put a lot of work into getting our plums just right, so it’s very encouraging to get feedback like that.” Michael Bentley and his wife Christiana grow plums for Waitrose at Castle Fruit Farm in Gloucestershire Meet the producer ‘People google us to say thank you’ “It’s all hands to the deck here during the plumharvest,” saysMichael (above with Christiana). “We’ve been picking since 10 July and we’ll go on until aroundmidSeptember. The unique thing about British plums is that because they don’t have a long way to travel, we can leave themon the tree until they’re almost ripe, and the nearer to ripeness you pick, the sweeter andmore flavoursome the plums are. “It makes it trickier for the pickers, because on any one tree, the plums won’t ripen at the same time, so they have to know exactly which ones to take. But that’s how you Runner beans are sweet and delicate, but should be eaten within a few days of purchase. Success in cooking them relies on being bold – char until they blister outside and steam fromwithin; braise until yielding and tender; or cook fleetingly, ready to dress. Just trim the tops with a knife, then remove any strings fromeach side using a peeler, for the least wastage before cooking. CHARGRILLED Blistering beans adds more flavour compared with boiling or steaming. Toss whole beans in oil, then roast on a baking tray in a hot oven or barbecue, until tender and golden. Scatter with zaatar, or douse with amix of curry paste and oil when almost ready. Spoon garlicky yogurt over a serving plate, strew the beans on top and scatter withmore zaatar or handfuls of herbs, plus lime juice. SLOW COOKED Braise the beans for a Greek-style dish. Soften onion and garlic in olive oil, add a cinnamon stick, dried oregano and fresh chopped tomatoes. Simmer, then add roughly sliced beans and season well. Addmore oil, cover and cook until tender. Scatter with feta and dill, then serve with lamb. Or for a simple side, soften chopped onion, fennel, new potatoes and sliced garlic in olive oil, then add chopped runners, a little stock and a pinch of sugar. Simmer, until the stock reduces and the vegetables are tender. Finish with lemon juice and fennel fronds. DRESSED UP A salad with runner beans is an easy win. First shred, boil briefly, then drain, cool, and pat dry. Tumble them through lentils with coriander, soy sauce, garlic and orange zest and juice, or whisk together a wholegrainmustard vinaigrette (1 part red wine vinegar, 3 parts oil, a dollop of wholegrainmustard, a pinch of sugar and seasoning) and dress the beans to serve with chicken. Finish with crumbled blue cheese and toasted walnuts or pecans sprinkled on top. Loving our leftovers Essential Runner Beans Photography: Tara Fisher, Food stylist: Joss Herd, Prop stylist: Wei Tang