According to the Australian Banana Growers' Council (ABGC), bananas will be returning in good supply to supermarkets from the end of September. My fruit bowl, for one, will be truly thankful!
To herald the return of fresh banana supplies, an event titled Banana Bounceback will be held in Martin Place, Sydney, on Tuesday, 27 September. A pallet of bananas donated by Innisfail grower, Steve Lizzio, will go on auction. The bananas are from Mr Lizzio's first crop. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to the McGrath Foundation.
ABGC President, Cameron Mackay commented that growers 'are over the moon' that supplies of Australia's number one fruit will once again start to satisfy customer demand.
"We'd like to thank consumers for their patience and understanding during this time of re-growth. Production levels are on their way up and this is good news for everyone," Mr Mackay said.
The Australian banana industry suffered a devastating hit in February, when Tropical Cyclone Yasi swept through the Tully and Innisfail region in Queensland, wiping out 95 per cent of production in that area; ten per cent on the Atherton Tablelands and a further 100 per cent in the Kennedy area south of Cardwell. A Federal recovery package was announced by the PM in February.
The Banana Bounceback auction takes place at 8.30am on Tuesday, 27 September. Be there, if you can, to support the initiative.
Bananas bounce back into the market basket this month!
Sweet corn, snow peas, lettuces, asparagus, cucumbers and green beans are deliciously good and in plentiful supply at local markets now.
Corn is one of nature's gifts, wrapped and ready to enjoy. I love peeling back the tasselled husks to discover rows of golden yellow and white pearl-like kernels that prove to be every bit as sweet, tender and succulent as they look.
Writing about these tasty morsels reminds me of one of my trips to Hungary, where corn is a staple food and the picturesque countryside is dappled with shades of gold given off by fields of maize, sunflowers and wheat. After taking a car ferry from Tihany to Szantod one summer afternoon, we stopped for a picnic and dip at Lake Balaton — the country’s most popular tourist attraction and the biggest lake in central and western Europe.
Dressed in swimmers and towels, we were munching on wedges of melon when a man rode up on a bicycle not unlike a remnant from the second World War. A plastic basket lined with foil and teatowels was firmly strapped to the old bike, and the vessel was filled with freshly cooked cobs of corn! Though sufficiently full from the lush watermelon, we found the corn irresistible — and ate with real gusto, to the delight of the gypsy pedlar (and peddler).
Young corn in cream is a popular Hungarian dish — though, I dare say, the recipe is too rich for my tastes. According to George Lang in The Cuisine of Hungary (Penguin), corn in cream usually served as a vegetable accompaniment for fried chicken.
One of the simplest and most delicious ways to prepare young corn is to remove and discard the husks and silks, trim the stem ends and simmer the cobs for 8-10 minutes in a saucepan of water. To barbecue corn, peel back the husk then remove the silk. Wrap the corn in its husks, secure with string and soak in cold water for a minute. Place corn onto a medium-heat barbecue grill. Cook for 6-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until the kernels are tender.
Use fresh kernels in salsa and fritters. To remove kernels from cob simply hold the husked and desilked cob upright with tip pointing down, then slice downwards cutting as close to the corn as possible.
Corn is available all year round with peak supplies from November to February. Choose fresh-looking ears with bright green, tightly-fitting husks free of decay. The kernels should be plump and milky. And it's best to avoid the ones with dry-looking or shrivelled kernels.
Sweet and crunchy, ready to cook
Pedlar at Hungary's Lake Balaton with his magnificent cooked corn!
“Tinned asparagus was the only asparagus I knew as a child,” reflects noted author, Eric Rolls in A Celebration of Food and Wine. “It was regarded as a treat, like tinned crab,” he adds. “A favourite delicacy at afternoon tea were spears of asparagus rolled in thin buttered slices of white bread with the crusts cut off. Tinned asparagus now seems an abomination. It does not even suggest the flavour of fresh asparagus.”
Food history tells us that tender young shoots of fresh asparagus have been prized since the days of the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. It is somewhat curious that, like Eric Rolls, some of us grew up tasting only the canned version of this sweet and succulent vegetable.
Fresh asparagus is especially delicious when blanched, poached or grilled and served with a rich hollandaise sauce made with egg yolks, butter and lemon juice. It also sits nicely in stir-fries and is divine in risotto. Asparagus is really good to eat with the fingers. And it's great in salads. Combine asparagus with garlic, zucchini and tomatoes for the perfect pizza topping; use it in a frittata or serve it poached with lightly poached eggs and salt and pepper.
When shopping for asparagus, look for crisp, green stalks with compact, tightly closed tips. The thickness of the stalk has no relation to the tenderness. Asparagus is highly perishable and should preferably be eaten on the day of purchase. To keep it fresh for longer, stand the bunch in a few centimetres of water and store it in the fridge. It's very important to change the water regularly. To prepare, simply remove the woody section at the base of the stalk by bending and snapping the stem where the woody section ends.
Asparagus: prized since the days of the ancient Egyptians