New Zealanders enjoy such moderate temperatures, that even during their coldest months, from April through September; they can enjoy a range of fresh produce which is sold at their year-round local markets. Divided into Autumn and Winter foods, here are some items not to be missed when touring down-under:
Seasonal Autumnal Foods in New Zealand
Autumn is traditionally harvest season no matter where in the world you are living, this is true in New Zealand as well, although not only are the carrots, squashes and apples ripe, try some or all of the following to enlighten the taste buds:
- Feijoas: These can be found under any feijoa tree, and chances are you will walk past at least one while strolling through town or returning to your hotel room. This green, olive-shaped, egg-sized fruit, is rampant in New Zealand, but the season is short and they do not store well, so they must be enjoyed as soon as they fall from the tree, no sooner or later. Cut one in half like a kiwi, and scoop the sweet, grainy flesh out with a spoon. Their unique taste and texture will dazzle the Canadian traveler.
- Olives: While they ripen and begin dropping their fruit in May and June, do not be tempted to try one straight off the tree as they leave the most lasting and bitter taste on the palate. Instead purchase some that have been cured in brine for a year, then marinade them using olive oil, garlic and herbs for a few hours on the counter. Otherwise go to almost any restaurant or pub and order warmed olives to share over a drink. This delicacy cannot be beat!
- Kumara: This tuberous root vegetable was brought to New Zealand by Maori settlers over a thousand years ago, and has been grown there ever since. It is related to the sweet potato of South America, but has a much milder flavour and its flesh ranges from deep orange to yellow, to white with purple veins. It is harvested from February to April.
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Seasonal Winter Foods in New Zealand
Even during New Zealand’s coldest months, from May through September, there is no shortage of fresh goods. It could even be argued that this is one of the best seasons for growing and buying fresh produce with all the apples, pears, nuts, squashes and leafy greens that are available. Here are some more particular items to look out for:
- Kiwifruit: These hairy egg-shaped fruits come in both the traditional green, or the more modern gold colour in New Zealand. Both are delicious, full of fibre and vitamin C, but must be experienced in New Zealand as they are so sweet when fresh they can be eaten like candy, but with health benefits of course. The gold kiwifruit is less tart but slightly more expensive, although both varieties literally grow like weeds in New Zealand, and are very reasonably priced from June through October.
- Smoked Salt: While this isn’t fresh produce, it does need to be tasted, and winter is the best time for this as it can be paired with many winter dishes such as a hardy vegetable soup, or sprinkled on winter crops such as kale and spinach. Smoked salt can be bought from the The Original Smoke and Spice Company at the Saturday market in Nelson, located at the top of the South island, or online.
Herbs: Fresh herbs grow year round, mostly as weeds, in New Zealand. Mint lines every stream and grassy area, and can easily be detected by its scent as it is tread upon. Lemon balm, related to mint, also grows wild and is known for its calming nature. Mint and lemon balm tea is a gorgeous way to finish off a cool winter’s day. Sage, parsley and rosemary also grow like crazy and are often used as ornamental as well as edible garden plants.