In the Celtic calendar, we are in Lammas-tide, festival of ripening and reaping: a time to realise nature’s abundance. In the glasshouse all’s swell; in the Field, though the crops are a month or more behind, they are at last fattening up. If we get the Indian summer many are predicting, then we might end up bringing in a decent squash harvest after all.
A time to discover the fruits of our labours. One of my happier discoveries this year has been Pimm’s. Granted, as claims go this one’s up there with Columbus’ unearthing of America: a cocktail stick plunged into a “new” world that millions have been quietly enjoying for generations. For some reason, this institution has, until now, passed me by: or perhaps I’ve avoided it, on the grounds that it’s possibly a bit posh, and certainly not ale. It took a party at Lisa’s for the realisation that Pimm’s is that rare, beautiful thing: a culturally sanctioned opportunity to imbibe volumes of seasonal fruit, veg and herbs, thanks to an alchohol and sugar packaging,
In particular, cucumbers, so long the cinderella of summer glasshouse crops, are put at the centre of the party by Pimm’s. Just as well, then, we chose to sex up our cucumber cultivars this year. Our standard is “Marketmore”, a stout traditional Ridge cucumber. Thick-skinned, crunchy and tasting of cucumber, it kicks all those insipid, watery, hothouse, hydroponic hybrids into shrink-wrap.
“Crystal Lemon” are yellow tennis balls looking more like summer squash than cucs, even fooling some of our sharp-eyed stall workers. Red spider mite have seen right through their disguise though, and their munching may have made next week the Lemon’s last stand.
Our star this year though has been “Soyu Long”, slender and serpent like with a surprisingly sweet flavour. Green, cooling, pretty in Pimms on these hotttening days: a summer rediscovered.