Produce report: May 15
Satsuma mandarins are going straight into this week’s shopping trolley. They are plentiful, coming down in price and just what we feel like eating and baking with right now. Layer up the vitamin C and pick up a bag of green kiwifruit while you are in the produce aisle — they have to be the week’s best fruit buy.
If you are out and about you may see red kiwifruit for sale too. Sweet and dramatic, their ruby centre looks drop dead gorgeous when the sliced fruit is set against slices of green, atop a cake or on one of your pavs.
As their name suggests, easy-peel, virtually seedless, satsumas were first grown in Japan but, along with other mandarins and tangerines, are considered traditional symbols of good luck during Chinese New Year too. Satsumas will be with us until mid-August. If growing your own, leave them on the tree for about a week after the skin has turned completely orange and you will be rewarded with a real boost of flavour. (See our satsuma recipes below.)
Still talking Japanese citrus, look out for yuzu (photographed above) which taste like a mandarin/grapefruit cross. With large pips and limited juice, the fragrant skin is often used.
If you eat in Japanese restaurants you will know about ponzu – the great dipping sauce made from yuzu juice to accompany tempura and dumplings, as a dressing and as a marinade for steak or pork.
Try Peter Gordon's easy ponzu recipe if you want to make it at home: Mix 1 Tbsp yuzu juice and 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar or any white vinegar with 2 Tbsp light soy sauce.
Ponzu aside, there’s also yuzu kosho, another Japanese condiment. It accompanies sashimi and miso soup and is made from fresh chillies fermented with salt and yuzu zest and juice.
Yuzus grow well in New Zealand but, should you be impatient to try them now, you can pick up some at specialty stores such as Farro, which is selling fruit grown outside Wellington. Peter Gordon explains what to do with yuzu here.
And then there are persimmons, our third fruit this week originally from Japan. Persimmons are lowering in price and will continue to become more affordable as the month progresses. For good buys, visit farmers’ and produce markets. The season finishes in July. Store at room temperature.
Look out for cranberries from Christchurch. If you want to poach them to make into sauces to accompany rich wintry meats, make sure you soften them for a few minutes first before adding sugar, otherwise the skins will be too tough.
But back to our more common fruits: Limes are great buys. Feijoas are a little more expensive (we are praying that the awful myrtle rust won’t put an end to the good times) and the supply of tamarillos is increasing as the season progresses — but still no bargains out there yet.
It remains a little gloomy on the green vege front, the continued fallout from the rain in March and April is still affecting supply, quality and price. Even that stalwart, broccoli, has succumbed.
As mentioned last week, silverbeet is looking good but spinach is in short supply. Courgettes, as to be expected at this time of year, are getting pricier (but still worth buying, looking at everything else). Eggplants are dear. Ditto avocados as the season finishes. Expect a scarcity until the end of June. Best vegetable buys are leeks, parsnips, brussels sprouts and baby carrots.
4 ways with satsuma mandarins