* Unicorn - Manchester's co-operative grocery   *
page finder
* * *

Unicorn News

Veg News November 25th 2015

Brrrr..., the temperature has finally dropped to suit the time of year. This isn’t all bad news as certain vegetables improve in flavour after a frost or two! It is most noticeable in kale and Brussels sprouts, both of which react to the cold by producing sugars that turn their bitterness into sweetness. Other vegetables like parsnips, carrots and celeriac turn their existing starches into sugar, which does wonders for their taste.

The main stay of our carrot supply through the winter comes from Jimmy Doig up in Scottish Dundee, where he’s been growing organically on his 1200 acre site since 1999. Jimmy’s carrots are super sweet, and he washes them so they look nice and shiny, but it also means that they have less protective skin. They are therefore best kept in the bottom of the fridge. Dirty carrots however should hold outside the fridge in a cool place wrapped in a brown paper bag.

The highlight from our UK range this week is purple sprouting broccoli (PSB) from Francis Sampson in Cornwall. PSB makes a good veggie accompaniment to lots of dishes. It can be steamed, blanched, stir-fried etc. You can eat the leaves too!

And finally from Europe, good news for all you marmalade makers: Seville oranges are back in fromFriday.

Last Modified - 25th November 2015


Veg News October 4th November

Veg News October 4th November

Terrific range of kales this week, thanks largely to Pam Bowers of Strawberry Fields in Lincolnshire…
In addition to the usual curly red & green varieties, Winter Wonderland provides an extra splash of colour. Possibly the star of the show in recent weeks has been cavolo nero. Also known as black Tuscan kale, this versatile dark cabbage has a lovely strong flavour and can be found in a wealth of Italian recipes. Beautiful just lightly steamed with a drop of lemon juice and olive oil. New to the range of autumn brassicas is purple sprouting broccoli from both Yorkshire & Lincolnshire… expect this to be a regular feature once other UK brassicas dwindle.
Lettuces are becoming limited. Less daylight from a weaker sunshine means they’re not quite so generously proportioned as in the summer months. We do however expect a supply of little gems through much of the winter, as Ormskirk’s Duncan Gielty once again demonstrates what is possible in a NorthWestern polytunnel.
Expect a gap in our UK spinach supply this week, at this time of year it takes longer to regrow. Rainbow chard however remains abundant from the Fylde coast, as does pak choi…

Last Modified - 4th November 2015

Veg News Oct 20th

Continued mild weather means little change to an abundant UK range. Most notably, there's a great supply of salads.

Locally, Glebelands salad leaves from Sale are going strong, as is mizuna from Farmstart near Northwich. We're expecting late-season lettuces to continue into November, with our weekend supply from the Fylde's Ward and Thompson still impressive.

Talking of Ward and Thompson, make the most of their excellent chillies. They're packing a serious punch and are coming into their last couple weeks. Check out the display for information on the different varieties.

We've got so many brassicas right now that it's a challenge to fit them all out. The sprout season is upon us, with an abundance from Duncan Gielty in Ormskirk, and the Wass's in Yorkshire.

The only one that remains challenging is cauliflowers, but with four types of kale, spring greens, broccoli, savoy and January King cabbages their should be a brassica for everyone!

Last Modified - 23rd October 2015

Veg News 13th October

It’s all about the apples this week, and Saturday will see us celebrating ‘Apple Day’ with a range of in store events and sampling. Apple Day is a chance to recognise the great wealth and diversity of apples grown in Britain. By our reckoning, this week will see a grand total of 19 dessert apples pass through the shop – plus two cookers for good measure!

We do our best to keep the in-store tasting notes up to date, but if you’re a little overwhelmed by the range, please do ask. Pretty confident there should be something for everyone!

So throughout Saturday afternoon expect a series of apple-themed events... juicing, tasting, bobbing and perhaps even pruning. Come the evening, there’s a ticketed event hosted by two of our suppliers, all about apple juice & cider.

Check out the blackboards near the tills for more info.

Hope you like them apples!

Last Modified - 23rd October 2015

Veg News 2nd September

Terrific selection of chilli varieties at the moment. They’re from one of our longest standing suppliers, Ward & Thompson, on the Fylde coast near Blackpool. The key for chillies is a long growing period. These will have been sown not long after Christmas to bear fruit now. They’re picking more varieties by the week, and there should be something to suit all tastes/recipes (check the photo & notes on our display). While not quite matching Chief Wiggam’s ‘Merciless Pepper of Quetzalacatenango’ in the Simpsons, Barry & Yvonne’s Barak chillies pack a mean kick!
From Europe, we’ve devoted so much time extolling the virtues of Muscat grapes and French figs that we forgot to talk melons. The French Charentais supply has been outstanding of late. New season Spanish mangos have started strongly (smooth & sweet) but the supply is sporadic for now. The lemon shortage has eased as we move into the new Sicilian crop… green but juicy.

Last Modified - 2nd September 2015

Veg News 5th August

A similar range to last week, with a fantastic selection of veg from across the North-West.
We’ve been really impressed with Duncan Gielty’s early season carrots from near Ormskirk. His farm, Lyncroft Farm, has been organic since 1980 when it was run by his father Alf. In addition to some good value brassicas (savoys, spring greens, etc.) and roots (leeks & potatoes) from his field scale operation, he also has 8 polytunnels. In recent months, these have provided us with pak choi, tomatoes, cucumbers & beans… plus now the appearance of green peppers.
On a similar note, we expect a more regular supply of UK aubergines in the coming months. Those from Carey in Herefordshire look particularly stunning. All being well, there will be aubergines from Libby Flintoff near Preston before too long. From Libby’s near(ish) neighbours Ward & Thompson on the Fylde Coast, lettuces are abundant… more from them come the weekend, including the slightly exotic looking (and very tasty) Italian oakleaf. Chillies too – Hungarian Hot Wax & Cayenne.
European logistics continue to be a trial at the Channel. We are still experiencing some delays. You may notice the occasional gap as a result, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t seem that important. It also illustrates quite how much of our veg range is from the UK at the moment.

Last Modified - 5th August 2015

Grow a Grocery

We think there’s room for a Unicorn-type store in every city, and perhaps more besides. We have no plans to expand outside the one shop, so we’ve put together a guide intended to help facilitate the emergence of new stores run on similar lines.

Starting a new business is a daunting process. The guide is based on the model Unicorn has tried & tested since 1996, and walks potential grocers through all areas of the business, in the hope that it will make starting a new shop an easier process and help existing shops improve and/or expand.

Read the guide here

Last Modified - 10th October 2013

* * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
about us | produce | ethics | recipes | jobs | get in touch | links | site map | home