Ever noticed how big and shiny supermarket fruit and veg are? Big, shiny, smooth, straight, in other words blemish free? When and why did supermarkets decide that appearances supercede taste or for that matter nutrition? Scarier still is that the majority are unaware. It’s not until you shop elsewhere, say the local farmers market, that the difference becomes apparent.
When I first moved to Newcastle I was impressed by the size of the local farmers market and the wide variety of produce available. (Naive city girl? Guilty!) I shouldn’t have been. After all, the hinterland around Newcastle and in NSW is some of the best agricultural land in the country. The market offers not just fruit and veg, but meats, poultry, breads and dairy products. Honey, fresh pastas, nuts and seeds, even heirloom seedlings and pet chickens. All amongst food vans serving up tasty brunches and to the soundtrack of a jazz quartet.
Needless to say it’s become a staple of our Sunday morning routine. Market, coffee, beach. Except when it rains. We’re not that committed. (Except to the coffee.) Those weeks we wind up back at the supermarket and all week long regret it. We end up paying significantly more for produce that is no where near as fresh or tasty and that no doubt lacks any decent nutrition.
It’s not all just about taste and nutrition. There are plenty of other reasons why we prefer the market. It forces seasonal purchases and consequently encourages creativity in the kitchen. I can chat to the genuine growers about their produce. Find out what’s peaking and ask about how much they’ve sprayed. More often than not I find that produce might not be strictly organic, but the amount of chemical fertilisers and pesticides used is significantly reduced. Food miles are also fewer. Best of all is the sense of community. Most weeks we bump into someone we know and even when we don’t, there is still an air of unity. One could easily while away a whole morning, browsing, buying, chatting and eating.
Ironically this recipe was inspired by supermarket produce. Six giant apples and pears sat in the fruit bowl for days until they over-ripened, no good for any packed lunch. It’s not in me to waste even the oldest bland apple. (A topic for another day) Hence compote.
Are you a market goer?
Apple, Pear & Ginger Spiced Compote
Makes approx 1L.
500gms of apples
500gms of pears
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 star anise
1cm piece of fresh ginger – grated
Juice of 1 small lemon
1. Cut up fruit and add to a large pot, along with cardamom, star anise and ginger.
2. Add 300ml of water, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The fruit is ready when all the water has evaporated.
3. Add the lemon juice and transfer to a blender
4. Blend until pureed or alternatively leave it a little chunky if you want a little texture.
1. Place ginger in mixing bowl and grind 3 secs/speed 7. Scrape down sides of bowl
2. Roughly chop apples and pears, add to bowl and chop 3secs/speed 5
3. Add cardamom and star anise. Depending on how ripe and juicy the fruit is, you may need to add just a little water to cover the bottom of the bowl to avoid burning. Cook 5mins/90 degrees/speed 2
4. Add lemon juice. Mix reverse 3 secs/speed 5
Keeps for 1 wk in the fridge. Freezes well