Skip to content
October 22, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

About garlic

  • Garlic, Allium sativum, is a species in the onion family Alliaceae.
  • Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, scallion, chive, and rakkyo.
  • Garlic has been used throughout history for both culinary and medicinal purposes. 
  • The garlic plant’s bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant. 

Know your Garlic – Botany

  • With the exception of the single clove types, the bulb is divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves. 
  • The cloves are used for cloning, consumption (raw or cooked), or for medicinal purposes, and have a characteristic pungent, spicy flavour that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking.
  • Garlic is an upright plant that grows up to about 60 cm tall. 
  • The long, sword-shaped leaves grow from the bulb beneath the surface of the soil. 
  • The bulbs are rounded, composed of several smaller bulbs called cloves. 
  • Cloves and bulbs are covered by a white papery coat and are used in both cookery and medicine.

Know your Garlic – History

  • Only known as a domesticated crop in cultivation, it is not known which species was the originator.
  • The word garlic comes from Old English garleac, meaning “spear leek.” 
  • Dating back over 6,000 years, it is native to Central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent seasoning in Asia, Africa, and Europe. 
  • Egyptians worshiped garlic and placed clay models of garlic bulbs in the tomb of Tutankhamen. 
  • Garlic was so highly-prized, it was even used as currency. 
  • Folklore holds that garlic repelled vampires, protected against the Evil Eye, and warded off jealous nymphs said to terrorize pregnant women and engaged maidens. 
  • And let us not forget to mention the alleged aphrodisiacal powers of garlic which have been extolled through the ages. 

Know your Garlic – Cuisine

  • The leaves, and flowers on the head (spathe) are also edible, and being milder in flavour than the bulbs, they are most often consumed while immature and still tender. 
  • Additionally, the immature flower stalks (scapes) of the hardneck types are sometimes marketed for uses similar to asparagus in stir-fries.
  • The papery, protective layers of “skin” over various parts of the plant are generally discarded during preparation for most culinary uses, though in Korea immature whole heads are sometimes prepared with the tender skins intact.
  • The root cluster attached to the basal plate of the bulb is the only part not typically considered palatable in any form. 

Know your Garlic – Uses

  • The sticky juice within the bulb cloves is used as an adhesive in mending glass and china.
October 21, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

Discover Corn salad

  • Corn salad, Valerianella locusta,  is a small dicot annual plant of the family Valerianaceae. 

Know your Corn Salad – Common names

  • It is also called Lewiston cornsaladlamb’s lettucefetticusfield saladmâchefeldsalatnut lettuce and rapunzel.

Know your Corn Salad – Botany

  • Corn salad grows in a low rosette with spatulate leaves up to 15.2 cm long.
  • It is a hardy plant that grows to US zone 5, and in mild climates it is grown as a winter green. 
  • In warm conditions it tends to bolt to seed.

Know your Corn Salad – Distribution

  • Corn salad grows wild in parts of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia.
  • In Europe and Asia it is a common weed in cultivated land and waste spaces. 
  • In North America it has escaped cultivation and become naturalized on both the eastern and western sea-boards.
October 20, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

How to cook Marrow

  • A member of the squash family, the marrow is a distinctive looking vegetable. 
  • Its edible shiny skin can be any shade of green and its flesh is tender with a subtle flavour. 
  • When buying marrow choose the smallest one that you can. 
  • Over-sized marrows tend to have watery, bitter-tasting flesh. 
  • It should be firm and heavy for its size.

 How To Use Marrow

  • Marrow is always served cooked. 
  • It can be baked in halves with the centre scooped out and stuffed with a filling such as sausage-meat and tomato or Bolognese sauce. 
  • It can be sliced into rounds and topped with cheese and baked. 
  • Or it can be cooked with onions, peppers and tomatoes to make a version of ratatouille. 
  • Serve steamed or fried marrow as a side dish to accompany chicken or fish dishes. 
  • Marrow can also be combined with ginger to make jam or included in the mixed summer vegetable preserve, piccalilli
  • Herbs and spices that go particularly well with marrow include sage, thyme, chilli and cumin.

 How To Prepare Marrow

  • Top and tail the marrow and slice or cut into chunks as desired and remove the seeds.

 How To Cook Marrow

  • Marrow can be baked, steamed or sautéed. 

Baking the marrow

  • To bake, preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5, place the halved, stuffed marrow or marrow rings with topping in a roasting tin and cook for 35 – 55 minutes or until tender. 

Steaming the marrow

  • To steam, place prepared marrow chunks in a steamer and cook for 10 – 15 minutes or until tender. 

Sautéing the marrow

  • To sauté, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and cook the prepared marrow chunks for 5 -10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.

 How To Store Marrow

  • Keep refrigerated after purchase.
October 19, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

About Marrows

  • The vegetable marrowCucurbita pepo var. ovifera, is cultivated extensively in England, and can grow to be up to 1 metre (3 foot) in length.
  • The name vegetable marrow is often shortened to just marrow.
  • Marrow is always served cooked. 
  • It is closely related to the courgette and can be cooked in any manner suitable for that vegetable. 
  • A member of the squash family, the marrow is a distinctive looking, large vegetable.
  • While related to many varieties of the squash family the marrow is grown to a much larger size than those would normally be grown, while still retaining an acceptable taste.

Know your Marrow – Common names

  • Called marrow squash in the US.
  • The vegetable marrow is closely related to courgettezucchini, and squash, and overgrown specimens of these are often mistaken for it. 

Know your Marrow – Botany

  • The vegetable marrow plant is a half hardy annual, vigorous trailing plant.
  • The marrow is shaped like a slightly curved cylinder, a bit smaller at the top than the bottom. 
  • Its edible shiny skin can be any shade of green, sometimes with yellow markings that give it a striped or mottled look, and its flesh is tender with a subtle flavour. 

Know your Marrow – Cuisine

  • When buying marrow choose the smallest one that you can. 
  • Over-sized marrows tend to have watery, bitter-tasting flesh. It should be firm and heavy for its size.
  • Because of its bland flavour, vegetable marrow (sometimes called marrow squash ) is often stuffed with a meat mixture. 
  • It is available in limited supplies in some speciality produce markets during the summer months.
October 18, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

Discover Land Cress

  • Land cressBarbarea verna, is a biennial herb in the family Brassicaceae
  • A variegated form is also available.

Know your Land Cress – Common names

  • Land cress is also known as American cressbank cressBelle Isle cressBermuda cressearly yellowrocketearly wintercressscurvy cressupland cressdryland cresscassabully, and American watercress.

Know your Land Cress – Origins

  • It is native to south-western Europe, but is also cultivated in Florida. 
  • Land cress has been cultivated as a leaf vegetable in England since the 17th century.

Know your Land Cress – Cultivation

  • As it requires less water than watercress, it is easier to cultivate. 
  • Land cress can be grown easily in any garden. 
  • Like watercress, it loves water, but does not do well when partially submerged for long periods of time. 
  • This biennial needs full sun and frequent watering in any garden, unless near a direct source of water.

Know your Land Cress – Cuisine

  • Land cress is considered a satisfactory substitute for watercress.
  • It can be used in sandwiches, or salads, or cooked like spinach, or used in soup.
  • It is rich in vitamins, iron and calcium.
October 17, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

About French beans

  • French beans are the unripe fruit of any kind of bean, including the yardlong bean, the hyacinth bean, the winged bean, and especially the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), whose pods are also usually called string beans in the north-eastern United States, but can also be called snap beans
  • Runner beans are the only exception and are treated as a different type of bean.
  • French beans are self-pollinating and do not have the setting problems that can occur with runner beans.
  • They come in 3 types and 3 different colours: 
    • Pencil pods, which are round in cross-section and usually stringless – these are divided into yellow ‘waxpods’, purple pods (which turn green when you cook them) and green podded varieties
    • Flat podded types
    • Filet or needle beans – these are the exceptionally thin Kenyan type.
  • The filet, waxpod and purple varieties are considered best for flavour.
  •  The last two have another advantage, in that they are easy to spot when picking time comes around. 
  • There are also varieties grown mainly for drying (e.g. haricots), as well as varieties that are usually shelled like peas (flageolets), very popular in France. 
  • Climbing types should be grown the same way as runner beans.

October 16, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

Discover Lima Beans

Lima bean

  • The Lima beanPhaseolus lunatus, is grown for its seed, which is eaten as a vegetable. 
  • It is commonly known as the lima bean or butter bean; it is also known as Haba beanPallar beanBurma beanGuffin beanHibbert beanSieva beanRangoon beanMadagascar beanPaigaPaigyaprolific beancivet beansugar bean or đậu ngự (Vietnamese).
  • These beans have a buttery, sweet, starchy taste and a smooth texture. 
  • When cooked for long periods, they create a thick, gravy-like liquid. 
  • Lima beans are native to South America and are popular in Andean foods. 
  • They’re also used widely in regional Southern US cuisine. 
  • Soak overnight before cooking.
Lima butter bean
  • The term butter bean is widely used for a large, flat and white variety of lima bean (P. lunatus var. macrocarpus).
  • In the Southern United States the Sieva type are traditionally called butter beans, also otherwise known as the Dixie or Henderson type. 
  • In that area, lima beans and butter beans are seen as two distinct types of beans.
  • In the United Kingdom, “butter beans” refer to either dried beans which can be purchased to re-hydrate or the canned variety which are ready to use. 
  • In culinary use, lima beans and butter beans are distinctly different, the former being small and green, the latter large and yellow. 
  • In areas where both are considered to be lima beans, the green variety may be labeled as “baby” (and less commonly “junior”) limas.
  • Both bush and pole (vine) varieties exist, the latter from one to four meters in height. 
  • The bush varieties mature earlier than the pole varieties. 
  • The pods are up to 15 cm long. 
  • The mature seeds are 1 to 3 cm long and oval to kidney shaped. 
  • In most varieties the seeds are quite flat, but in the “potato” varieties the shape approaches spherical. 
  • White seeds are common, but black, red, orange and variously mottled seeds are also known. 
  • The immature seeds are uniformly green. 
  • Lima beans typically yield 2900 to 5000 kilograms of seed and 3000 to 8000 kilograms of biomass per hectare.
  • Bush types:
    • Henderson/Thorogreen, 65 days
    • Eastland, 68 days
    • Baby Fordhook, 70 days
    • Fordhook 242, 75 days, 1945 AAS winner
  • Pole types:
    • Giant Speckled/Christmas/Speckled Calico, 78 days
    • Big 6/Big Mama, 80 days
    • King of the Garden, 85 days
    • Madagascar
  • Like many other legumes, Lima beans are a good source of cholesterol-lowering fibre. It lowers cholesterol and its high fibre content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, while providing virtually fat free high quality protein. 
  • It is a good choice for people with diabetes suffering with insulin resistance. Lima beans can help balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy.
  • Lima beans may reduce the medical dosage needed to combat cholesterol in the form of natural food.
  • Lima beans have the trace mineral molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, and it detoxifies sulfites. 
  • Sulfites are a type of preservative generally added to prepared foods.
  • Lima beans are high in dietary fibers, which means that blood sugar does not rise high after eating beans. This is due to the presence of higher amounts of absorption-slowing protein in the beans, and their high soluble fiber content. Soluble fiber absorbs water in the stomach forming a gel that slows down the metabolism of the bean’s carbohydrates. The fiber is also the reason for the cholesterol lowering function of beans. Fiber binds with the bile acids that are used to make cholesterol. Fiber is not absorbed by intestine and it exits the body taking the bile acids with it. As a result, the cholesterol is lowered. 
  • Lima beans also has insoluble fiber, which prevents constipation, digestive disorders, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis.
  • Lima beans help prevent heart disease, since eating high fiber foods, such as lima beans reduces cholesterol level. Lima promotes healthy heart because of its folate and magnesium. Folate lowers levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediate product in an important metabolic process called the methylation cycle. Elevated blood levels of homocysteine are an independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease.
  • Lima’s magnesium content is a calcium channel blocker. When enough magnesium is around, veins and arteries relax, which reduces resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
  • Apart from providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, lima beans can increase your energy by helping to restore more iron. 
  • For menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, lima beans can be added for iron. 
  • Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism.
  • Lima beans are a very good source of the trace mineral manganese, helps enzymes important for energy production and antioxidant defense.


  • Raw lima beans and butter beans contain linamarin, a cyanogenic glucoside. The beans are rendered safe when cooked. 
  • Low-linamarin varieties are typically used for culinary purposes. 
  • It is possible for one handful of raw beans to make a person violently ill.