Produce report: March 20
Feijoas have arrived in stores and, despite heralding the cooler weather, it’s hard to find a Kiwi who doesn’t have a soft spot for the scented charms of these crumble dessert stars that came to New Zealand via South America in the 1920s. New varieties were developed here.
Feijoas will be with us until June and have good levels of dietary fibre and vitamin C — one fruit provides nearly one quarter of an adult’s daily needs.
Feijoas fall from the tree when ripe but if you don’t fancy yours bruised, picking them might be a better option. When buying, look for firm fruit with unblemished skin. Feijoas are perfect to eat when the jellied sections are clear. If brown or grey, they are over-ripe and if white, the fruit will need two or three days at room temperature to ripen. Afterwards, store in the fridge but use as soon as possible.
They freeze well too. Either cut them in half and scoop out the flesh (cup-sized quantities are helpful for later use in baking) or, if you would rather drink your feijoas, freeze the pulp or puree in ice cubes to turn into smoothies. But, if this all seems too hard and you have the shelf space, the fruit can be frozen whole; peel after defrosting.
Meanwhile, see Geoff Scott’s sticky coconut and feijoa muffin recipe, photographed here, to rekindle the love.
And while the weather's still warm, try this instant feijoa icecream from Nadia Lim.
Quinces are also making their annual appearance. They are high in vitamin C, zinc, potassium, copper and iron. Also in dietary fibre and antioxidants. Much too woody and astringent to be eaten raw, they have a perfumed apple/pear quality when poached and they cook beautifully in the slow cooker as Kathy Paterson shows here.
When you’ve eaten the poached fruit, don’t discard any precious juice left over. Try a little as a treat in a glass of bubbly or reduce it further to make a fragrant dessert sauce. You’ll find quinces at farmers’ markets, greengrocers and at stores like Farro.
While there, check out new-season celeriac to ring the changes. Select smaller celeriac roots as they are more tender and refrigerate in your vegetable crisper. One look gives it away — this gnarly beast is full of fibre. Peel it and use raw or lightly cooked in salads, or boil or microwave and mash. Celeriac can also be fried into chips. As the name suggests, celeriac is a mild-flavoured relative of celery.
Look out for New Zealand walnuts, they are worlds away from those too-bitter imports we used to have to rely on. Walnuts should be stored in an airtight container in your fridge or freezer, whether shelled or unshelled. They are rich in omega-3 fats and contain high amounts of antioxidants.