It was in a cold greengrocers that Jane Grigson first taught me about fruit. Every Saturday morning I would take her book down from a shelf and learn about the the history of the quince or how best to cook medlars. Jane helped me fall in love with ingredients. She also made working in an unheated greengrocers slightly more bearable for a fifteen-year-old with a hot water bottle permanently shoved up her jumper.
As I read more and more in my breaks between serving customers, I came to look forward to new seasons in the fruit and vegetable calendar. September was my favourite month, when customers would bring in baskets of apples for us to sell. It was the Discovery first -a small, sweet apple with a deep crimson flush, and then the Worcester. By the end of the month we had dozens of varieties, piled high next to punnets of foraged blackberries and trays of patty pan squash.
I always took the over-ripe fruit home with me. With Jane Grigson’s guidance I made apricot jam and roasted Suffolk-grown peaches with amaretti biscuits. In September, I would take home a bunch of blackening bananas and a paper bag full of cobnuts. Saturday afternoons would then be spent making banana bread and for days after I would toast thick slices and slather them with butter.
Last weekend I did the same.
Banana and Walnut Bread (from Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book)
125g butter, melted
250g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs
100g walnuts, chopped
2-3 large ripe bananas
Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and mashed banana. Stir in the sieved dry ingredients.
Grease and line a 9-inch loaf tin with baking paper. Spoon in the mixture and bake at 180C for one hour. The banana bread is done when a skewer comes out clean. Wait for 15 minutes before leaving to cool on a wire rack.