Produce report April 30: Fruit and vege buys of the week
Tamarillos are finding their spot in store but will be in available in greater quantities as the season peaks in July and August. A relative of the potato, tomato, eggplant and capsicum, they are low in fat and carbohydrates but are high in potassium. They are a source of vitamins A, B6 and C and also contain vitamin E and thiamine, copper and magnesium. Store them in the fridge for up to two weeks or in a fruit bowl for a week. Tamarillos can easily be frozen, skinned and left whole, or pureed for some of those winter puddings we will be serving any day soon. If eating raw, and the unadorned tamarillo flavour is too sharp for you, slice and macerate them in sugar until a syrup forms. Peel tamarillos as you would a tomato: nick the pointy ends with a sharp knife and pour boiling water over them until submerged. Wait two minutes then drain and cool under cold running water. Drain again then peel off the skins. Combine pears and tamarillos in to a crumble tart.
As the weather moves away from early autumn produce, kohlrabi joins the newcomers. Available in limited quantities from now until August, kohlrabi is actually not a root vegetable but looks like one, with a turnip-like stem that grows above the ground. The bulb tastes like a sweeter, crunchy cabbage heart that’s suited to remoulades or coleslaws (add the leaves too) and it is good peeled and roasted or mashed. Choose those which are the size of a tennis ball to ensure they won’t be woody and store in a plastic bag in the fridge for about a week. Substitute kohlrabi in place of potato in a creamy gratin or add peeled, julienned kohlrabi to an apple, mango and radish slaw. make a potato herb soup with half potato, half kohlrabi. Use kohlrabi, or mix half/half with cabbage when making sauerkraut.
Still talking new season, look for jerusalem artichokes (called sunchokes in North America), which will be available in the next few weeks. The season runs from May until September. Jerusalem artichokes bring a mushroomy character to soups, and variety to a roast dinner. They are lovely sliced wafer-thin and dressed in a lemony vinaigrette, partnered perhaps with a sprinkle of toasted hazelnuts. Unfortunately these tasty tubers don’t suit all constitutions: they can cause bloating and gas. Some people assert this is lessened with cooking. It’s all thanks to inulin, an indigestible form of carbohydrate that is also a prebiotic — so not a bad thing at all unless you are sensitive to it. Apparently if you notice that apples make you bloat, jerusalem artichokes are likely to do the same. Anyway, the rule with Jerusalem artichokes is to go slow. For a smaller serve, try slices fried crisp, strewn over a bowl of soup or on a salad. And try chilli crumb leeks with artichoke crisps.