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the dark side of the orange

 

You might have heard us mention it once or twice, but we’re really picky about the fruit we use to make our drinks. It’s kind of like when you have people over for dinner and you only put out the best condiments and use your fancy napkins. We only ever include the finest quality fruit we can find, and the tastiest possible blend of that fruit. We’re also keen to use rare and unique varieties in our recipes to make sure that our drinks are that extra bit special (especially if we can get our hands on a variety that our drinkers have asked us to try out). So, taking all of these things into account, you’ll probably see why we decided to start using the rare and deliciously tangy blood orange in our latest recipe.

We certainly set ourselves a challenge as blood orange is a unique fruit, predominantly grown on the foothills of Mount Etna, an active volcano in Sicily.

Our Maria recently visited Sicily to learn more about our blood oranges, mainly to find out exactly how they are grown and make sure we’re only using the best quality blood oranges in our juice.

 

She found out that our blood oranges aren’t just growing at the foot of an active volcano because they like to live dangerously - the rich volcanic soil means that the trees get all of the special nutrients that they need to grow big and bountiful. The weather in the area is also really important because the oranges need sunshine and warmth during the day and cooler temperatures during the night to develop that rich, deep, bloody red that they’re famous for. Trees that are tucked up in the shade of the volcano grow to be a rich red, while the oranges that sit out in the Sicilian sun catching a few rays stay a much more orangey hue.

 

You can give our extra special volcanically grown blood oranges a try by picking one of these up at Waitrose. From the first sip, we can promise that you’ll be instantly transported to the foothills of Mount Etna. Not mid eruption, obviously. That wouldn’t be good.

the innocent sow & grow - week three growing update

Right now, in schools across the country, over 100,000 kids are taking part in the innocent sow & grow. Recently we checked in on a few of the schools as they got their growing going. Now that we’re a few weeks in, let’s see how they’re doing.

Some very impressive efforts from LFA Moorhead here. We can only assume they have two other pots growing, waiting to be added to the structure, to create some sort of plant pot pyramid. Maybe they’ll put it on waterskis and charge people to come and see it. Maybe not. Probably not.

 

Goodleigh Church of England have got some excellent looking beans on the way. Just look at those leaves. You can almost sense how soft they are. Like a velvet cloud after a long soak in the bath.

And again from Goodleigh Church of England. This is the sort of cress which would make tall people jealous. “Why aren’t I as tall, proportionally speaking, as this cress?” they would probably ask. Nobody knows the answer, tall people. You’ll just have to live with it.

Great stuff all round, we think. There are still ways to get involved with the innocent sow & grow. Head to our website for growing guides, activities and more updates from all the schools taking part.

kids draw hats, we make hats

The most recent Big Knit may have only ended a month ago but we already miss it. And, like a parent whose child has just moved out of the family home, we’re still looking for ways to talk about it any chance we get. 

This year we held a competition on our packs for kids to design their own Big Knit hats. The lucky winners get real-life versions of their designs for them to wear. They'll be the coolest kids in town (if that town is a town where knitted hats are cool).

Seeing as this combines both Big Knit hats and brilliant drawings by kids, it only makes sense that we’d dedicate a blog post to some of winners. 

Emily won us over with the details of her design. Any kid who knows a garter stitch from a fishtail stitch is okay by us.

 

And Kaiyah’s 'Cake Hat of Epicness' would make Mary Berry herself proud. It also makes us wonder whether there's ever been a similarly named showstopper on Bake Off. Probably not. Here's hoping it makes an appearance in the next series.

 

And Holly must have been paying attention during Penguin Awareness Day. We are happy to confirm that Polly here is definitely a penguin.

 

A massive thank you to everyone who entered. There were loads more winners but there's only so much we can show. For space reasons, that is. Not because they were unsuitable. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to look through our various computer folders of pictures of animals wearing Big Knit hats and try to think of some rubbish excuse to write about them soon.

the innocent sow & grow - growing update

Last week we sent out growing kits to over 3,000 schools across the country with the aim of helping over 100,000 school kids to discover the fun of growing their own veg. Pots, soil and seeds, everything you need (except from water, which seemed like a bit much to send through the post). A week or so in, we thought we’d check in to see how their growing is going.

Flamstead End Primary school above is going strong with some already impressive shoots of, we think, spinach. It could be peas. They’re fairly similar in the very early stages. Think of it like a cliffhanger, Jack Bauer himself couldn’t cope with this suspense.

And Shorne Church of England Primary School clearly have some sort of powers when it comes to cress growing. Probably not that useful a super power though. It probably wouldn’t get you into the X-Men. But when you need a garnish for an egg sandwich, you’ll be laughing.

There’s still plenty of ways to get involved with sow & grow. Head to the sow & grow website to find growing guides, activities and all the updates from the thousands of schools taking part.

get your trowels out

The grey days are a bit less grey and the hot water bottle isn't seeing as much action as it used to. It can only mean one thing: winter is on the way out and spring is in. 

This week we've been braving the spidery corner of the shed and unearthing our spade and fork set so we can start messing about in the garden. That's how we came across this handy infographic from Wayfair, which is a guide to growing your own superfoods:

Grow Your Own Superfoods

There's no excuse not to pack in the globe artichoke and goji berries now. In fact, we might put a word in with the ladies in our products kitchen and see if we can borrow their blender. The next big smoothie recipe, we reckon.