Quite often our team meetings can take the form of a discussion of something abstract but related to our workings

It might be an analogy or a metaphor ranging from looking at the behaviour of insect colonies in relation to our own foraging ventures to analysing the possible significance of the clutch breaking in both of our vans in the same week. I remember a good few months back now we were looking at the subject of maturity. It's in many ways an easy subject to play around with in that type of discussion because it has so many applications in culinary descriptions in the form of things such as wine, cheese, fruit, etc. When we describe those things as mature it can mean different things but it always seems to carry a notion of readiness; that the thing being described is fit for its intended purpose. You only have to look at the inverse to see how you would feel about a cheese that has not been left to mature which in many cases might not even be a cheese.

However, it's also quite a relative term as the maturity depends entirely upon the end goal that we have in mind. To look at the examples above we can see how this plays out. In wine we start with grapes which could be the end goal themselves and we wait for them to ripen or mature and then they are ready for eating but if you want to make them into wine then they must be juiced. At that point the juice is not mature but must be left to mature and ferment to get the desired product. You could even go one step further and decide that the wine is not the product you want but that you're after vinegar and so the goal posts shift again and the wine would be considered immature until it has been left for bacteria to play their part. The same goes for cheese. You start with milk and if it's milk you want then you need go no further; it's ripe, ready and mature as it leaves the cow, sheep or goat. If on the other hand you want your cheese then you have to wait a little longer.

A lot of these processes make me think back to other themes that we have looked at regarding seasonality. Because of the two big humps in the British produce seasonal produce chart (namely Spring and Autumn) we have a tradition of pickling and preserving the abundance to see us through the scarcity. This is probably most easily recognised in the case of preserving Summer/Autumn into Winter by pickling, drying, candying and fermenting. Winter is often considered to be the hungry gap and yet Summer would have presented its own problems too in the past. As we hit the latter end of Winter it's possible to see how in the past we filled the hungry gap by jumping ahead of the season. Things like broccoli are a sign of impatience, eating the flowering buds before they open out. Forcing rhubarb and sea kale to push the season forward. In a sense, our modern food systems (import-export, polytunnels, etc.) have put an end to that kind of innovation but I think that we could start to reignite it and there are a few examples of it happening in recent years. For those of you who have been following our thoughts over the years you're already heavily engaged in this process now of eating each and every part of the plant as the season progresses.