Produce report: November 7
Two rather special signs in store this week announce that summer is on its way — the arrival of the first blueberries and some early local raspberries. As is always the case with the first of the produce, blueberries are commanding pretty steep prices but that will ease, of course, as the season progresses through until May. Raspberries have a much shorter season and will be more freely available in December and January, just right for those creamy Christmas desserts.
Look out for boysenberries, that sweet hybrid of raspberries and blackberries, in a few weeks’ time.
Strawberries are plentiful now and starting to lower in price.
But back to blueberries which, as practically everyone will know, are much lauded for their antioxidant “superfood” properties. Recent studies have also shown that blueberries can improve memory — a very good reason to eat them daily, if one more excuse is needed.
In cooler months store your blueberries at room temperature but the fridge is the way to go when the days get hotter. Wash just before eating. They freeze really well too — fortunately without destroying those beneficial antioxidants.
Keep Delaney Mes’ easy blueberry and apple pie recipe handy. Delaney uses frozen blueberries but you could swap them for fresh ones as the season progresses.
Thanks to the warming weather, lettuce is growing at a very pleasing rate in the garden and supply is plentiful in store too. Lighten up and replace bread with lettuce leaves in wraps or make lettuce cups to hold Asian fillings for a fresh, zingy dinner. Try Viva’s Vietnamese lettuce wraps with pork and coriander. They are bound to be a hit with the whole family.
When separating tightly bound iceberg leaves for cups or wraps, remove and discard any dark, tough outer leaves, trim the core away from the whole lettuce and then soak the head in a large bowl of water for at least 10 minutes. The leaves will separate easily.
From the not-quite-everyday department, look out for banana flowers (also called banana blossoms or hearts) which are treated like a vegetable and used in Southeast Asian salads and curries. They take a bit of preparation but will definitely give you one-upmanship in any gourmet circle.