New Zealanders are taught in school that they should aim to eat five or more servings of fruit and veggies every day. Luckily we have a good variety to choose from in order to keep things interesting. New Zealand produce is, for the most part, GM free (non-genetically modified) and there are often organic options even in the regular supermarkets. To get the freshest stuff it’s fun to spend one of your weekend mornings at a local market of which we have more and more popping up every year.
There are a few fruit and veg items in New Zealand that you may never have seen before. Check these out:
This is the New Zealand word for a sweet potato. We have three main types, red, golden and orange and they vary slightly in sweetness and texture. Kumara have always been an important food in New Zealand. Check out the kumara pits up on Mt. Eden.
A true blue Kiwi treat! Many New Zealand homes have feijoa growing in their gardens. They originated in southern Brazil and were brought to New Zealand in the 1920s. Because they are some commonly found in gardens, chances are that you will stay in a backpackers or guest house that has a tree growing outside. If they are in season, ask the owners and they are likely to let you try as many as you like.
During the season you will see persimmons everywhere. They are delicious hard and crunchy or you can let them ripen until soft and they become very sweet.
Not to be confused with the North American use of the word, yams in New Zealand are actually oca which arrived from South America in the mid 1800s. They are usually served roasted but can also be boiled. They taste like a slightly lemony potato.
Served alongside potatoes in a traditional Kiwi roast dinner, pumpkins are a big player in New Zealand produce. They are cheap and delicious and come in many varieties. The most common types you’ll find in the supermarket or green grocers are the crown and the buttercup, but there are many more and they are all good and full of beta carotene. I’d highly recommend the pumpkin soup that is often served in cafes, especially when you’ve been tramping on a rainy day.
Originally from South America, tamarillos were introduced to New Zealand from Asia in the 1800s. Peel the fruit or cut in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon as you would a kiwifruit. They are quite sour and can be used in sweet or savoury dishes. Try them with cheese or simply with a bit of salt on a cracker. Tamarillo chutney is also delicious.
Kiwi including Golden Kiwi and Kiwiberries
The Chinese gooseberry arrived in New Zealand in the early 1900s but eventually New Zealanders started calling them kiwifruit after the little brown bird they remind us of. The green one is the most well-known, but the golden varieties are marked by a smooth taste that some people prefer. From about mid-February to April you can also see “Kiwiberries” in the shops. You eat the entire thing and they are quite sour so ensure you have a fruit that is soft to the touch (not firm) for the best flavour .
The pulp of this lovely fruits is most often seen used as a sauce over cheesecake or ice cream. It is available in the second half of summer and the beginning of autumn, February to June and is very easy to eat. Simply cut it in half scoop out the pulp and seeds and you can crunch down on the whole lot. Some people prefer to push the pulp through a sieve so as to avoid the slightly hard seeds.
two sorts by Robert Brook on Flickr
Feijoas in a basket by ksuyin on Flickr
Persimmon by Koshyk on Flickr
New Zealand yam by 4nitsirk on Flickr
Pumpkin Soup by Avylxyz on Flickr
Red tamarillos by epicbeer on Flickr
Kiwi fruit half by Odolphie on Flickr
Ready to eat by Jemasmith on Flickr