Produce report August 6: Fruit and vege buys of the week
Early season hass avocados (the most common variety grown in New Zealand) have arrived, signalling happier guacamole days ahead. More available than they have been for months, their quality is improving and prices are lowering. The main hass season runs from about August to April but because mature fruit can stay on the trees over winter, and with other varieties filling the gap, avocados are usually always available. As avocado-on-toast fans will know, the 2017-18 season has been an expensive one – that’s thanks to small harvests, small fruit and increased demand, locally and internationally.
Avocados do not ripen on the tree but, even so, picked too early and they will not ripen at all. Buying them takes a bit of forward planning – avos need to be stored for anywhere from 7-14 days in your fruit bowl until they are ready to eat. Warmer temperatures will speed things up as will popping them into a paper bag with a ripe banana or apple. If you have too many ripe ones, they will keep well in your fridge for a few days. Once cut, lemon or lime juice will stop the flesh from browning.
Avocados are high in healthy fats (60 per cent heart-friendly monounsaturated and 12 per cent polyunsaturated) which helps the absorption of fat-soluble A, D, E and K vitamins from foods eaten with them. New World Fresh Expert Brigit Corson says that you can rely on the quality of avocados at New World where they work closely with their growers around the North Island to source the creamiest, most vitamin-rich fruit possible.
Avocados make a healthy butter and dairy substitute too and can be whirred into smoothies and nutritious, guilt-free icecreams. Try them in dairy-free mango, avocado and vanilla icecream and a supergreens smoothie bowl.
In his cooking avocados column Peter Gordon makes a quick avocado hummus by pureeing equal weights of ripe avocado flesh and cooked chickpeas. Mix in 50g tahini per 300g puree and some finely chopped red chillies (including the seeds). Add lime or lemon juice to taste, 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil, shredded coriander and mint, and salt. It goes without saying, but it’s perfect with corn chips.
Vege buys this week are broccoli, carrots, cauliflower (because it is affordable again) and beetroot and grey-skinned pumpkin. Brussels sprouts are still good buying – the larger sweeter ones from North Otago will be with us until around October. Look out for Oakley’s baby golden gourmet potatoes at New World, they are good buying at $4.99 for a 1.5kg bag.