Produce report: November 13
Broccoli may not scream of spring but it is one of our vegetable buys of the week. Shave it, roast it or blanch it and add to salads or bowls and it will transcend the seasons well. Asparagus is another good buy. We talked about white asparagus last week and now there’s also a limited quantity of purple spears in store. Be careful not to overcook them — too much heat will destroy the colour. Play it safe and use them raw in a salad instead. Geoff Scott’s shaved asparagus salad would be perfect and it would look so pretty too.
Also affordable and worth their place in this week’s trolley: Cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces, eggplants, courgettes and capsicums (all colours being high in vitamin C, the reds high in carotenoids and the greens higher in flavonoids).
You know it’s nearly Christmas when cherries start to appear and Farro Fresh says the first from Hawke’s Bay are due any day now, along with the region’s nectarines. These first fruits won’t be as sweet as the varieties set to follow so are best enjoyed in a spring tart or dessert.
Look out for the arrival of long-stem strawberries, which are ideal for chocolate dipping and beautiful on a pre-Christmas dessert platter.
Blackberries, raspberries and blueberries are starting to fill up chiller cabinets. None are cheap — at least not this early — but they are special, and worth splurging on if you’ve got a suitable occasion to justify the expense. Blueberries will be with us until May so there’s a long way to go with their season. Blackberries, which belong to the rose family, and raspberries will be more plentiful from December. Raspberries will be available until January and blackberries until March.
Blueberries can be stored at room temperature in cooler weather but once it is warm, the fridge is the place for them. Blackberries, boysenberries and raspberries need to be refrigerated. Given the cost and their delicate nature, it’s important to know how to store berries properly. Blackberries are best eaten on the day of purchase but whatever type of berry you have, give them a quick rinse (in a colander) right before use and after they have been refrigerated for an hour or so. Refrigerating will toughen them a little. Store berries in a container that provides some air circulation — the one you bought them in is just right. However, it’s important to ensure it is dry and lined with paper towels to help absorb moisture. Leave holes near the lid uncovered for air circulation (blackberries can be stored uncovered). Avoid storing berries in the coldest part of the fridge (the top) and avoid the crisper too.
Navel oranges finish in December so get your fill while you can. Local apples, pears and kiwifruit are also at the end of their season. Imported grapes, pomegranates, pineapples, coconuts, mangoes and pawpaws are in good supply. If you are lucky you may spot some ugli fruit — the wrinkled, sweet and juicy Jamaican tangelo.
3 berry desserts