The box contained broad beans, carrots, courgettes, new potatoes, spring onions, a cucumber, 2 little gem lettuces, a melon, bananas and apples.
First impressions were that the ingredients list was a little unexciting but looked nice, fresh, in good condition and used a minimum of packaging. I was surprised to see apples as these must have been shipped from far far away as we are months from the apple growing season here. Perhaps something more seasonal would have been more appropriate. I checked the website and the origins of the fruit and vegetables is not listed.
I used to get veg boxes from Riverford but found the endless supplies of carrots and leeks drove me mad and most would end up on the compost heap. Carrots! Hardly the most versatile of vegetables yet every organic box provider insists on including them. The Abel & Cole carrots, like Riverford’s, came covered in a good coating of mud. I don’t know whether this is for authenticity or to save customers the cost of Mr Abel or Mr Cole scrubbing them. They were also a little ropey and looked like something had already had a nibble.
Anyway I took the carrots and courgettes and made a pasts dish which tasted good.
The broad beans were a godsend. Blackfly have demolished mine on the allotment and I wanted to make bruschetta for guests on Sunday night. The broad beans were a little older and bigger than I would usually pick them, but the dish worked well all the same and they were nice and firm and fresh tasting.
The melon I ate for Sunday breakfast and it was delicious. Apples firm, sweet and tasty in spite of the food miles.
I’m not a huge fan of bananas, but did make a banana bread once they had turned yellow.
I’m not sure what to do with the rest of the ingredients.
The advantage of Abel & Cole over Riverford is the ability to opt out of certain items. For example I am starting to drown in home grown courgettes so the thought of paying money for them is ridiculous. With Abel & Cole I can choose never to pay for a courgette again.
So overall I was impressed with the quality (apart from the dodgy carrot), but not impressed with the uninteresting selection or the inclusion of out of season produce. I think it would be helpful to add the country of origin of the food on the website so customers can make more informed choices.
For a family of five where everyone is in and out at work, school, after school activities, sports, etc, the box scheme simply doesn’t work and leads to too much waste. Getting your weekly veg in one go requires some element of planning and time to prepare dishes – something that too many people lack in today’s world.