Produce report August 20: Fruit and vege buys of the week
"In New Zealand, we have one of the highest rates of banana consumption per capita and those in our stores generally come from Ecuador or the Philippines, the former being relatively unaffected by weather systems that can destroy crops." says New World Fresh Expert Brigit Corson. Bananas’ popularity shows no signs of slowing. Bananas’ popularity shows no signs of slowing. Apart from their use in baking, they are an important ingredient in desserts for those avoiding refined sugars. Overripe bananas, peeled and tossed guilt-free into the freezer, become instant icecream and provide a sweet and nutritious base for smoothies. Bananas are an important source of potassium, fibre and vitamin C. Dried, they supply about four times more potassium per gram than the fresh fruit. That’s thanks to the mineral’s concentration as water levels decrease. Vitamin C doesn’t fare so well — it is degraded by drying. Bananas are the best fruit source of vitamin B6. Try cooking with green bananas (the greenest you can find) which work like plantains in savoury dishes. Popular in Pacific and Caribbean cuisines, they are usually boiled in their skins for around 20 minutes or longer, until the skin can be pierced with a fork. Green bananas are starch resistant which means undigested starch passes straight into the large intestine, just as fibre does. The starch (which won’t have yet turned to sugar) can also help with weight loss, stimulating the release of a hormone, glucagon, which is believed to increase the rate at which bodies burn fat. Alongside the regular bunches on sale, look out for bobby bananas, which grow at the lower end of the stem. Smaller than their larger counterparts, they fit well into lunchboxes but have the same taste and sweetness.
3 WAYS WITH BANANAS
The onset of spring has us starting to crave lighter foods, adding new-season, better-priced avocados and sprouts to meals for a fresh, nutritious boost. You’ll find a full range of sprouts at your local supermarket including sprouted beans which are rich in protein, vitamins and fibre. New World’s Brigit Corson says they are also easier to digest than regular beans and, year-round, are readily available through all New World stores from local growers. Sprouted beans and seeds contain B-group vitamins and some contain small amounts of minerals including iron and potassium. Those with high-water content have a lower nutrient and kilojoule content. Adzuki, chickpea and mung bean sprouts (considered one of the easiest to digest) are drier, have more carbohydrate and more nutrients along with more kilojoules. Sprouts provide a range of phytonutrients too. Try mung bean sprouts in Megan May's healthy Vietnamese pancake.
Fruit buys remain navel oranges, lemons, apples and green kiwifruit. Mangoes, grey-skinned pumpkins and carrots are good buying. Broccoli and Australian round beans are looking good too. Ring the changes with yams in the roasting tray.
HOW TO TELL IF A MANGO IS RIPE
As they ripen they do change colour but not all mangoes change colour consistently, so don’t rely on that to judge ripeness. Mangoes are a bit like an avocado — you want them firm but soft, not squishy. So the best way to tell if a mango is ripe is to hold one in the palm of your hand and squeeze very gently. — Brigit Corson, New World Fresh Expert