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Markets: TA 7th, Cambridge 9th & Hamilton 10th March

Welcome to another bang up to date market blog. Today is the 5th March and the next round of markets take place on Thursday 7th at Te Awamutu from 2.30ish to 6.00, then we have Cambridge on Saturday 9th from 8am until 12.00 and Hamilton on the 10th March from 8am until 12.00.
From the latest tour of the market I noticed a few newbies coming in and a few oldies falling away and by that I do not mean the stallholders – such a sensitive lot they are so we must make it clear that I am referring to produce available. The Strawberry growers are now officially finished their fresh produce and are beginning to pull up the old black plastic and prepare the ground for the next round of plants which go in in early winter.
Now that we, as conscious consumers, have become more acutely aware of the quality and origin of our food - particularly fruit and vegetables, we are a lot more savvy about the different varieties too. There was once a time where potatoes were, well, just potatoes. Perhaps it’s because I am Irish but I have developed a bit of a snobby nose for potatoes. I will only use Agria for the Scottish Tattie scones that I sell on my stall because they are yellow fleshed, cook evenly without falling apart and mash without going gluey.(See Cato’s for Agria). Equally I am quite fanatical about the variety of apple that I like and will actively seek out the less sweet varieties. Happily you can get an impressive range of both potatoes and apples at the market. Richard Cato of Cato’s Potatoes is the main man if you are looking for gourmet potatoes which he sells in lovely sturdy printed brown paper bags. Jack’s Orchard and Devine Fruits are the apple guys and they have about 6 different varieties of apples between them depending on the season. Both stalls also have fruit juices made from their own produce. Mike Rose of Devine Fruits sent me a message to let everyone know that GOLDEN QUEEN PEACHES will be available this week at Cambridge and Hamilton. They don’t have a huge supply but they can guarantee freshness and top quality so get in quick. New Zealanders always seem to want to bottle Golden Queens but while this is a wonderful and worthy thing to be able to do, it reduces their appeal as an eating peach. The look of the Golden Queen Peach belies its name as it tends to be a dusty greeny beige but as soon as you peel away the skin, the glorious golden flesh is revealed. The flavour is excellent and they are firmer and easier to eat then some of the more well known eating varieties. Anyway – for eating or preserving for a little summer sunfruit in winter – enjoy them as ye may. Get in early if you want a bag of GQs.

Passionfruit are starting to come in thick and fast as predicted. It has been an extremely dry and hot summer and as passionfruit are shallow rooting they have suffered from lack of moisture. The early passionfruit you see in the market at Roy’s stall and Meg’s stall have been grown under cover with automatic irrigation so if your outdoor passionfruit  are still green and you are feeling less than adequate as a passionfruit grower, despair not, they will ripen up and fall to the ground by late March / early April. If, as is the case with lots of customers, your passionfruit has died(!) or you can’t wait until late March / early April then come and talk to Roy or Meg. Our passionfruit are delivered straight from us, the growers, to you the buyers and the prices will make you smile…
Although it is now officially Autumn we can still offer the public good quantities of summer vegetables tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers and capsicums with Egg Plants on special at Melon Man Clif’s stall. He was doing a fill ya bag special last week and there will be another terrific offer this week too. Have you treated yourself to a delicious taste of summer honeydew melon yet?  They are so freshly picked that they are almost still warm from the sun – gorgeous.
Those Hass avocados are still going strong. Avoglade keeps finding more tucked away under leaves that were missed during the first picking. I saw a great recipe in a Vegan cookery book for a raw vegan key lime pie using avocado pureed with lime juice and honey as the ‘cream’ filling on a base made from raw pulverised macadamia nuts with coconut oil and mejool dates. You can get the avos and the nuts and the limes from the markets but we can’t help with the coconut oil and the dates I’m afraid. Not hot enough in the Waikato for either of them! I never thought of using avos in place of cream but apparently it is quite a common practice amongst vegans. I know they make a good butter or spread replacer on bread.

Nashis – oh how I love that crunchy crispy juicy little fruit and Kane’s have them by the bucket load. I have started using them in my apple turnovers to give that extra little frisson of mystery.
Corn is still available but only for another 3 or so weeks. The hot dry weather has had an effect on the growth and Teresa Linehan tells me that she is concerned that some of her crop is ripening too quickly and going starchy. She only sells the best and refuses to sell anything less. She checks each cob before selling and that girl knows her corn! The corn which has lost its sweetness is rejected. Sometimes I am lucky to nab some of that for my chickens and they just relish it.
Grapes are coming. Roy has some already and good old Bob Teal has his absolutely wonderful fresh autumn raspberries. He has 4 acres of raspberry canes just laden with fruit right now. He also has frozen fruit available. Fresh blackberries and boysenberries will be next. Plums are here too – not a huge amount so get in early for them.

As always I have only scratched the surface of what is available at the markets. Please come on down and enjoy the ambiance, the interaction, the information and of course the produce on offer. Remember you can’t buy happiness but you can buy local and that is almost the same thing.

See you next week.
Meg Daly
Celtic Cuisine.
PS if you have any comments be they brickbats or bouquets how about putting them up on the Facebook page? There is a connection to FB on this website. Like us and enter into a conversation thread. Feedback from our customers is greatly appreciated. It helps us keep the market the way you want it to be.