Produce report March 4
Fresh this week: New Zealand-grown pears are in season. “You’ll notice the early season varieties like Starkrimson, which are very distinctive with their bright crimson colour,” says New World Fresh Expert Brigit Corson, “but sadly they have a short season and will disappear from stores within next two weeks”. New Zealand main varieties like Packham and Beurre Bosc are also available and will be with us right through to September. Nashi Pears, across between a pear and an apple, are also in NewWorld stores nationwide. Melons are good buying, as are courgettes, beans, cucumbers, spring onions, tomatoes and eggplants.
Try it in: Pears will continue to ripen the fruit bowl. Use firmer pears sliced as a base for blue cheese canapes or sliced on to a cheeseboard. Softer pears can be peeled, cored, steamed and pureed for babies or to accompany a pork roast. Pears go well with chocolate – try Kathy Paterson’s chocolate pear cake with chocolate sauce. They like vanilla too – poach peeled pears in a simple sugar syrup with a split vanilla bean until just softened. Grilled sweeten up a salad or vegetable dish. Dice them finely salsa, or to toss through couscous or bulgur wheat.
Moving on: The early avocado season is expected to be a bit shorter this year, mainly due to the weather patterns over the past few months, so you’ll notice a bit of a gap before the late season comes in with more avocados from July. Avocado can be frozen, mash the flesh (fine or chunky to your preference) with lime or lemon juice and store in airtight containers in the freezer ready to spread on toast and sandwiches.