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New potatoes

Cornish farmers grow about 3,500 hectares of potatoes, divided between early potatoes, salad potatoes and main crop potatoes, many of which are sold to the big crisp manufacturers. About 1,000 hectares of potatoes are grown for crisps in Cornwall.

In the spring for just a few weeks, the Cornish early new potatoes are dug up and ready to eat. 'Cornish earlies' are small, soft skinned potatoes with a very special flavour; they are highly valued and delicious served with Cornish butter. The taste is rich and sweet, as most of the natural sugar has yet to turn to starch.

Unlike other new potatoes you see on the supermarket shelves which are washed before being packed, Cornish earlies are sold with a bit of soil still on them; washing removes some of the skin and this should be done just before cooking or they will not keep.

Cornish earlies are mostly grown in the far west of the county where the mild winters and the rich soil provide ideal conditions for such a delicate crop. The crop is planted in late December/early January and harvested from the end of April.



Cornish earlies


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Lamb

Meat from sheep less than one year old is called lamb. Mutton is meat from older sheep, over a year old. It has a stronger flavour than lamb and may be less tender.

Most lambs are slaughtered at about six to eight months old. Traditionally lambs were only born in the spring when the weather was getting warmer and they had more chance of survival. These days some Cornish farmers lamb their flocks in December so that they can supply shops with new season lamb for Easter.

The method of cooking any cut of meat is determined by how tender it is likely to be. The tender cuts of lamb, such as leg and loin benefit from fast cooking at a high heat while the tougher cuts, such as shank (knuckles) and neck, are better cooked slowly.





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Cornish Cheese

Much of the milk produced by Cornish cows is made into cheese. More than 60 cheeses are now being made in Cornwall. Most are made with cow's milk though some are made with goat's milk or sheep's milk.

Some of those cheeses like Cornish Yarg and Davidstow are well known and you will find them on sale in supermarkets across the country. Many of the others are produced in quite small quantities, and you will find them on sale at farmers markets or in farmshops in Cornwall.

The Davidstow Creamery near Camelford, where the cheese of the same name is made, is the most modern cheese factory in Europe. It uses more than half of the milk produced on dairy farms in Cornwall and has the capacity to produce 50,000 tonnes of cheese a year.

Cornish Yarg is produced by Lynher Dairies at Ponsanooth near Truro. It is famous for its covering of nettle leaves and has a smooth creamy texture. It is handmade using milk from the cheesemaker's own herd of cows.





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