Produce report: February 20
Get out the jam pots and preserving jars, golden queen and golden belle peaches are good buying and in plentiful supply this week, along with affordable white peaches.
Classic golden queens make the best bottled fruit. An old variety, they may bruise way too easily (remove any blemished ones from the fruit bowl immediately) but all will be forgiven when you come to eating them — they are firm and sweet plucked from the tree and lovely in summery desserts and salsas, or bottled for winter crumbles.
Kathy Paterson shows how to go about it in her bottled peach recipe. For bottling newbies, there are also links in the recipe on how to sterilise jars and the overflow bottling method.
More new season apples should be making their way into supermarkets soon. Kyle Street cooks up the big traditional apple pie below with three varieties, so keep the recipe close as the season progresses.
There’s no risk of a soggy base with Warren’s upside down tart but for two-crust pies, Kyle recommends:
- If possible, don’t put the apples in water, this can dilute the flavour and also make the filling a little sloppy.
- Pre-cook the filling over a very high heat. Reducing the juices the apples release with brown sugar before baking means the pie is filled to the brim with epic amounts of apple and the base doesn’t get too soggy.
Peter Gordon has even more ideas in his Ask Peter column here.
If you’ve got your own tree you’ll be feeling smug now, picking the first ripe fruit but for fig lovers without a backyard tree, there’s going to be a little more time before you get your hands on these sweet delicacies, thanks to a storm in Marlborough. However, Northland figs should start soon and local ones from Pukekohe are expected mid-March.
Chillies are ready for harvesting about now too. At home we have a sizeable crop but, disappointingly, so far they are all rather mild. And I want heat. One solution, apparently, is to withdraw the love. The capsaicin produced in hot peppers is the plant’s natural defence to stress. When lacking water, capsaicin increases and the chillies get hotter. Then again, maybe this year’s rather dismal summer is to blame. Chillies like hot sun. I can’t do a thing about the weather but I am being rather more careful with the hose.