Produce report: October 9
The first of the local strawberries have arrived, with the season proper beginning at the end of the month. All we need now is a little sun (instead of this lingering rain) to sweeten things further. An excellent source of vitamin C, strawberries are also a good source of folate and potassium and are low in calories too.
To ensure you get the best from them, eat your strawberries within two days to help preserve their nutrients. Because they do not ripen after harvesting, it is important to pick them when fully red, without green or white areas. Saving unripe ones for later is a waste of time – the colour will not intensify nor will they become sweeter. At the other end of the spectrum, avoid any deep red, dull berries which will be overripe. When considering a purchase, take a whiff. You should be able to detect that delicious strawberry scent – another indicator of quality. When picking them yourself from the strawberry patch, gently snap the pedicel (stem) from the plant and take care to avoid bruising.
If you are not planning on eating them that day, cool the berries as soon as possible. Remove them from their original container and store them, unwashed and with stems attached, in a single layer on a paper towel-lined tray. Keep them in the vegetable crisper of the fridge which will stop them drying out. Cover with plastic wrap or with a lid. Some people suggest only partially covering with the lid - the choice is yours. Any mouldy berries should be removed immediately to stop it spreading.
Farro Fresh has another early taste of summer in store now – hothouse-grown fresh peas in a pod. A treat to add to risottos and salads. Farro is also selling Mexican tarragon, which comes with a touch of anise - a spicy and intense herb that works well with fish, lamb and chicken.
Asparagus supplies continue to firm and the quality is looking good with lovely thin spears for your first barbecues of the season. Baby spinach and some other leafy greens are, unfortunately, in short supply – the bad weather takes the blame again. Local courgettes and capsicums are getting cheaper as the season progresses but it’s broccoli that is our vegetable buy of the week. Fruit wise, new season tangelos are now in store. They are good buying along with lemons and navel oranges. Still talking citrus, look out for blood oranges with their distinctively coloured flesh. Blood oranges are less acidic than navel oranges and, as the colour suggest, are rich in antioxidants.