Saturday, June 18, 2016

I try to avoid it, but I would like to talk about the B-word in your salad bowl.

One of my customers asked me how to prepare one of the greens to reduce the *bitterness* -- yes that is somewhat of a bad word for a greens grower, but I would like to talk about it. It's a valid question and I wanted to share a few thoughts on greens and bitterness.

As a plant geek, I'd like to take a minute to talk about the biology of the plants. The plants naturally build up more flavorful alkaloids (those are the compounds that are producing the bitter flavor) in summer when they are getting more sun and heat. Conversely, they produce more sugars in the winter which they use like an antifreeze solution in response to the cold weather. So you will find the sweetest greens in winter and the most flavorful greens in summer. If it was up to the greens they would prefer weather like Michigan has in April and October year round, but here I am trying to coax them into growing year-round.

There may be more to tasting bitter that lies in our genes as this article points out:

Here are three ways to deal with bitterness in your greens:

1) There is some evidence that bitter tastes actually stimulate the digestive system and helps liver function Though it is not a super common flavor in our American diets, many of us can appreciate a good IPA or espresso that has some bitterness. Maybe the key to enjoying your greens year-round is to embrace a bit of bitterness and think about the health-producing and palette-expanding :) benefits they may be offering.

2) Balance the bitterness.
 I use three main dressing techniques that I think help balance the bitterness in greens.
Firt, a strong flavored dressing. For me this usually means my go-to garlicky-salty dressing. I make a paste of garlic and salt in my mortar and pestle (1-3 cloves of garlic depending on size and about 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt), but you can do it with a knife as explained here:
Then I add about 1/4 cup olive oil and 1-2 tablespoons fresh (or bottled lemon) juice.

Second, you can balance with a rich or creamy dressing. A good homemade (or store-bought) buttermilk ranch or tahini salad dressing will help add richness to balance the bitters in your greens.

Third sweetness will help balance the bitterness. A raspberry vinaigrette made with Swallowtail's Raspberry Syrup some olive oil and a little rice wine vinegar is one good option for a sweet dressing.

3) Lastly if these tips to embrace, or balance the bitterness don't work for you, opt out of Swallowtail greens for a bit and try them again in a few months they are always changing throughout the year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Black Currant Gin and Tonic

1 oz Swallowtail Farm Black Currant syrup
1-1.5 oz gin (such as Bombay Saphire)
top with tonic water or sparkling water
serve over ice
garnish with rosemary sprig or lemon

Rhubarb and Rye

Swallowtail Rhubarb and Rye 

1 oz swallowtail Farm Rhubarb syrup 
1.5 oz rye whiskey such as Bulleit 
top with sparkling water (about 4 oz) 
serve over ice 
garnish with lemon