Produce report: April 24
New season granny smiths are with us now — harvested in late April and early May and available until December. Sharp, tart and flavoursome, this great keeper holds its shape well when cooked and won’t bruise as easily as some other varieties. And, yes, there really was a granny — she was Australian Maria Smith and the first known seedling was found on her compost pile in the 1930s. Try granny smith apples in Viva's nostalgic squares of shortcake (photographed below) or make Ray McVinnie’s Italian-inspired warm apple and almond cake with mascarpone (photo above).
Don’t forget to add these green apples to cheeseboards as well. They are perfect with any sharp cheese. Store them in the fridge and wash before eating.
Look out for the first of the local satsuma mandarins. These sweet, easy-peel and seedless bursts of goodness will be with us until early September and, as we have said more than a few times in the past, they make great nutritious lunchbox additions.
Fruit buy of the week, though, has to be limes. Enjoy the bounty and add the juice with a little sugar, salt or fish sauce and chilli to perk up autumnal salsas — try lime with persimmon, kiwifruit or the Peruvian Kent mangoes in supermarkets now. As far as cooking goes, remember the lime juice flavour is concentrated in the skin.
Brussels sprouts, leeks, local round green beans and parsnips are good buying. As the starch converts to sugar, parsnips become sweeter, which is why they are better in the winter, especially after frosts. However, at other times, storing them in plastic bags in the fridge will help promote sweetness too. Parsnips are a source of niacin, along with fibre and potassium. They also contain falcarcinol, which, as in carrots, may protect against some cancers. Look for smooth and firm small-to-medium-sized parsnips and avoid large and coarse ones, which tend to be woody. Young parsnips don’t need to be peeled. Just scrub them lightly and help preserve the nutrients and the flavour, most of which is right below the skin. Parsnips can also be eaten raw — shave them into a salad or serve batons on a crudite platter.