Two of the tastiest apricot varieties of the season, Sundrop and Clutha, from Cromwell, are now in store. Eat as is, grill or bake them. Even better, think ahead to winter's leaner produce offerings and bottle some for future desserts or to add to smoothies or breakfast bowls (see Jan Bilton's easy microwave bottled apricots).
Apricots will be gone by the end of February and so will summer's jersey bennes from Oamaru. It's time to make a big bowlful of potato salad and hope the weather holds for a barbecue (good luck with that one).
Here's a simple but flavoursome herbed potato saladrecipe from Viva to serve 4: Halve or quarter, depending upon size, 500g waxy potatoes (jersey bennes) and boil in lightly salted water until tender, drain. Whisk together 2 Tbsp creme fraiche, 2 tsp wholegrain mustard, 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp finely grated zest. Season and pour over the potatoes. Add 3 finely diced gherkins, 1 Tbsp capers (wash off salt if they are packed that way) and 1 small finely sliced onion. Fold through 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs (we used a combination of dill, chervil and Italian parsley). Refrigerate before serving.
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We need to add local green kiwifruit to the soon-to-end crops, which means the arrival of Italian imports. However, keep a look out for those baby kiwiberries in the next few weeks. Fuzz-free, they are great popped whole into lunchboxes or fruit salads and, like regular kiwifruit, are primarily grown in the Bay of Plenty.
It's hello again to figs. Farro Fresh now has South Island ones in store. Yes they are pricey — the price will drop as the season progresses — but figs are a delicate crop to handle, so they are never really cheap. At home, the birds have yet to find the top ones, which are ripening nicely on our tree. Hopefully we'll beat them to the first fruit this week.
It has been hard going lately finding a really good apple which makes the appearance of new season Royal Gala, Sunrise and Beauties all the more welcome. Those three early varieties are available now and all have that longed-for crunch and sweetness.
Round beans and sweetcorn are the week's great buys. The corn season doesn't finish until April so plenty of time to enjoy it all. Sweetness and taste aside, sweetcorn contains zinc, iron, selenium, potassium, vitamin C and phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin, thought to be helpful in eye health. Cooked sweetcorn (not raw) releases a compound called ferulic acid which is believed to play a role in also preventing cancers, ageing and inflammation. And, if that's not enough, sweetcorn contains less than one third of the sugar of apples and a whole heap of roughage (your gut will thank you).