Eating what’s in season

Eating seasonally is an important part of our efforts to eliminate the environmental damage caused by shipping food thousands of miles. Eating what’s in season also provides an exciting opportunity to try new foods and to experiment with different recipes.

Eating in harmony with the season guarantees you the best tasting food, the highest nutritional value and the lowest price. Conserving and preserving food when it is in season also means we can afford to have the very best of local produce when it’s out of season.

What’s in season this month – May 2013

May provides a taste of all seasons, as we enjoy the last of the summer fruits and look out for cooler season crops coming into local markets. Asian greens, beans, broccoli, cabbages, capsicums, chokos, carrots, parsnips, pumpkins, lettuce, mushrooms, rocket, silverbeet, and sweet potatoes should all be fresh and bursting with vitality, especially if you buy from one of our local farmer’s markets. For fruit, try apples, avocados, lemons, limes, mandarins, pears, quinces, custard apples, kiwi fruit, persimmons and rhubarb.

For a locavore mother’s day breakfast, try some freshly sliced pawpaw drizzled with lime juice and serve with some thick organic yoghurt. Or halve a soft persimmon, scoop out the flesh and add some yoghurt. For a delicious dessert: cut four or five stems of rhubarb (don’t eat the leaves as they are poisonous) into 5 cm pieces. Add two peeled apples, cored and cut into eights. Place the rhubarb and apples into an oven-proof dish with a lid, add two tablespoons of honey or brown sugar and a cinnamon stick. Place in a preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. Turn oven off and leave in oven for a further 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Serve with favourite organic yoghurt. Any leftover can be stored in the refrigerator and used on porridge or other cereal for breakfast!

What’s in season this month – March 2013

This is the month when the weather makes a move towards its autumn cycle and things start to slow down in the garden. It gives us a chance to grow lettuce and coriander without them bolting to seed too quickly.

March is the month for harvesting and eating beans, beetroot and Bok Choy. Beans of all sizes and shapes including green (or French), butter beans (yellow), scarlet (actually purple) and runner beans are in season now. Eat them raw or lightly steamed in salads or with dips, pop them whole in lunch boxes or cook them very gently and quickly – steaming is the best method. A delicious and easy way to cook freshly picked beans is to gently heat them in a small amount of olive oil in a pan. Stir in some finely chopped fresh mint leaves then toss the beans for 1-2 minutes and serve immediately.

Broad beans aren’t in season now but if you live in a place where you get at least some cold weather over winter, you may be able to grow these fabulous vegies. Plant in late March and grow slowly over winter to enjoy later in the year. Broad beans are one of the most mistreated vegies – they are completely horrible when boiled to death but baby ones served raw or blanched in their pods are on a par with asparagus.

Baby beetroot should also be ready now and available at your local market. If you grow your own, you have the added bonus of using the ‘tops’ – the smaller leaves in salads or the larger leaves in cooking as you would use spinach. The roots are good sources of vitamins B1, B2 and the leaves are high in Vitamin C.

Eggplant is also a good price this month. Whole eggplants can stored for two weeks in the fridge but once cut, they quickly discolour. Eggplant can be sliced and fried for use in lasagne but this method soaks up a lot of oil. Whole eggplants can be sliced lengthways and roasted for half an hour or so in a moderate oven until they collapse. The skin can be easily peeled off and the flesh pureed with tahini, lemon juice, a hint of crushed garlic, a teaspoon of cumin and a little olive oil and salt to make a brilliant dip – Baba Ganoush.  Of course you can mix eggplant with other ‘in season’ vegies such as tomatoes and zucchini to make a very versatile ratatouille.

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