Produce report November 26: Fruit and vege buys of the week
Sweetcorn is pretty pricey right now so treat yourself if you simply cannot wait for the deluge and cheaper buys later.
Sweetcorn can be eaten raw but it’s one of those vegetables that is even better for you cooked; that’s when it releases a phytochemical called ferulic acid which helps protect the body from cancer. Ferulic acid is present in small amounts in most fruit and vegetables, but corn has it in abundance.
Sweetcorn is also very high in lutein and zeaxanthin for healthy vision, and there’s zinc, iron, selenium, potassium, vitamin C and some B group vitamins in there too. Although the colour of the kernels doesn’t determine how sweet your corn will be, darker types have more carotenoids. Carotenoids act as antioxidants in the body and they are fat soluble, better absorbed where there is fat or oil in the meal. Full permission then to melt a knob of butter over that hot cob or give it the full Mexican treatment and smear with mayo, hot chilli sauce, freshly grated parmesan and lime juice.
When buying, look for fresh green husks with yellow/brown tassels. The kernels should be even and plump. Refrigerate the cobs immediately after purchase with the husks on, if possible, and eat within one to three days as corn’s sugar content quickly turns to starch.
See Ray McVinnie's Get the Idea for 10 great ways with sweetcorn.
The first of the nectarines may not be quite as sweet as those still to come and so probably are best enjoyed poached for an early-summer trifle or other fruity dessert.
“You’ll see plentiful nectarines the week leading into Christmas,” says Brigit Corson, New World fresh expert. “With some great weather in the Hawke's Bay this spring we’re hoping for a plentiful range of stonefruit in January. Our locally-grown peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines usually arrive into New World stores within three days of being picked from the tree — we can’t wait!”
Nectarines belong to the same family as peaches (no surprise there) and their furry cousins will be arriving soon too.
Nectarines, peaches and plums ripen on the tree but if they are hard when you buy them, place them in a paper bag (to trap the ripening ethylene gas) and keep at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Keep an eye on them daily — they should smell fragrant and soft, but still firm to the touch.
Transfer to the vegetable crisper in the fridge, where they will live happily for up to a week. Do be careful to keep stonefruit away from strong-smelling foods as it is liable to take on other odours. Wash just before eating.
Look out for local pomegranates. It’s nice to have New Zealand-grown ones on offer at New World. Strawberries are lovely this year — sweet and in great condition. Mid-season now, they will be in good supply for the next few weeks along with blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. New season green veges, including avocados, are great buying at New World this week too.