Produce report December 10: Fruit and vege buys of the week
The first of the early cherries — from Hawke’s Bay — have arrived in New World supermarkets but, as we said last week, we are still awaiting the main crop from Central Otago which accounts for around 80 per cent of the total production in the country.
Although cherries are de rigueur for many Kiwis at Christmas, those in January are hard to beat — they are cheaper, larger, crunchy and sweet. So, better things to come.
Cherries will keep for about a week refrigerated in a plastic bag but will deteriorate quickly at room temperature. Ditto if you wash them when you bring them home. Excess moisture hastens decay so wash only those you are about to eat.
Cherries freeze very well and will keep for about a year. Wash and pit them or keep them whole, with stalks attached. Spread in a single layer on a tray and, when frozen, store in sealed containers.
Peaches will be here until March and, like many other fruits we now enjoy, were native to China, carried along the old silk routes to what was Persia (Iran), before making their juicy way to Rome and Europe.
“The good news is that New Zealand’s favourite beans are less affected by weather than other produce,” says Brigit Corson, New World fresh expert. “They’ll become more plentiful as the summer progresses. All those lovely round beans from Hawke's Bay make their way on to our plates all the way through to at least April.”
When buying green beans, pick those so crisp that they will snap when bent. When this fresh they will work well as a crudité. Otherwise, steam them for a few minutes.
Although most of us know it’s not a good thing to overcook our veg, there are always exceptions to any rule. Slowly stewed until they almost melt in olive oil with garlic and a bit of chilli, beans are deliciously harmonious stirred through silky pasta. If too mature, remember to de-string your flat beans before cooking.
Chinese cooks have long used preserved black olives in their hard-to-stop-eating Szechuan green bean stir-fries. The intense salty flavour works so well. And although their olives are completely different, Mediterranean ones pair beautifully with green beans too. Try them in the side dish below and serve with fish or meat.
Store green beans unwashed in the refrigerator, in a paper towel-lined container to soak up excess moisture. They will keep for about five days. They also freeze well. Blanch them for a couple of minutes in boiling water, refresh until cold in iced water and pat them dry. Freeze flat in plastic bags, squeezing out any trapped air. They will keep well for about 10 months.
Green beans are a good source of vitamins C, A and K.
There are plenty of in-season tomatoes around at this time of year so they’re great buying at your local New World. Also look for washed jersey benne potatoes from Oamaru —they’re tasty little morsels that will really impress.
- Drop 500g trimmed green beans into boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Refresh under cold water and drain without shaking off all the water (you want them wet so they cook evenly later).
- Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry 2 cloves crushed garlic, finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon and salt to taste for one minute without browning.
- Add 2-3 Tbsp finely chopped kalamata olives and the beans and cook over a medium-low heat until warmed through (1-2 minutes). If they dry out and start to brown, add a little water.
- Transfer to a serving plate, season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle with lemon juice to serve.
Recipe by Annabel Langbein