Produce report: March 6
Red kumara from Dargaville, parsnips and brussels sprouts are all plentiful this week. It may be officially autumn but we are not ready to turn this trio into heavy mashes and purees just yet — at least not while the weather is playing ball. Try those baby sprouts shaved into a salad or in this speedy curry with black beans for a tasty night away from meat.
There’s still a mountain of summer stonefruit out there, including an appearance by that great latecomer — the Black Boy peach. Actually around six varieties of red-fleshed peaches are known as the Black Boy which originated in France a couple of hundred years ago. A natural mutation of white-fleshed peaches, they are known in France as peche de vigne, or vineyard peach. A scarce treat, red-fleshed peaches are seen in very few places of the world and many of us remember them from our childhood, often bottled by an elderly relative. Sweet and fragrant when eaten fresh, they are a juicy delight once that furriness has been rubbed away or the skin peeled. You’ll find Black Boys for sale at Farro Fresh or at your local farmers’ market.
The displays of new-season apples grow by the week. Super-crunchy Sweet Tango from Hawke’s Bay joins Beauty, Genesis and Royal Gala varieties already in store. Pick up a pear or two as well to poach for breakfast or to slice to add to a cheeseboard.
Look out for greengage plums and smooth skinned baby kiwiberries. However, it is sweet, local rockmelons that are our fruit pick. They are big and juicy but you’ve got to be quick as the season ends later in the month. Watermelons are also still plentiful (again, not for much longer) and, depending on where you live, you may be doing a double-take with the arrival of those with canary yellow flesh. Not cheap, the yellow watermelons are stunning, however, in a cocktail and can be used anywhere you would use the more familiar red ones.
New-season local limes are also appearing so you may have noticed the prices drop slightly. Limes will get cheaper as the season (March to September) progresses. The Tahitian (or Bearss) lime is most commonly grown in New Zealand and is nearly seedless and sweeter than other types which include the Mexican (key) lime and Southeast Asia’s kaffir limes. It is the leaves and rind of the kaffir, of course, which are most used; the limes themselves being too dry for juice.
Commercially, limes are picked green but are actually yellow once fully ripe. If you want a more acidic, tart taste then a green lime is what you want. Otherwise choose yellowish green ones which will be juicier. It can be tricky knowing when to harvest your own so the best bet is to gently twist a lime from the tree and cut it open. Too little juice means it is still unripe.