Seasonal fruits and vegetables: freshness is honoured in may23-05-2017
To celebrate Fresh Fruit and Vegetables week, 16-25 June, let’s take a quick look at some of Nature’s bounty in season. And in May, there’s plenty of choice.
To mark the occasion, Interfel, France’s inter-professional body for fresh fruit and vegetables, is inviting people of all ages to learn more the fun way with a range of cooking demonstrations and games to brush up on your knowledge. In parallel, for the second year running, Interfel is organising a competition to find France’s most beautiful picnic spot. Iconic settings in several of France’s major cities will compete for the title. And to celebrate at home find some tasty recipes right here !
Kiwis, packed full of Vitamin E
Kiwis are growing in popularity in France. Not only do the French manage to consume 3kg per household per year, but France is also Europe’s third largest producer, with yields of 68,000 tonnes essentially from 3 regions: Aquitaine (55%), Midi-Pyrenees (22%) and Rhone-Alpes (9%). The “Chinabelle” is a French variety with yellow flesh, and a local exclusivity, while Kiwi de l’Adour, cultivated in the Adour Valley in south-west France, has been honoured with the coveted “Label Rouge” status. Kiwis are packed full of antioxidants given their high vitamin E content. King of the “sweet and savoury”, kiwis are equally tasty as a starter, dessert or robust, flavour-filled dishes. And during the month of May, kiwis are in their prime.
Bananas, a cure for insomnia
The first edible plant cultivated by man, bananas are France’s third favourite fruit (LSA survey 2015). The entire 263,000 tonnes of French bananas are produced in the French overseas territories of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Reunion, and the French consume 12kg per household per year. Bananas are packed full of goodness, containing carbohydrates, fibre and vitamins. A banana a day is a great source of energy.
Did you know? Bananas contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid which our bodies cannot produce and so must be obtained from our diets. It does however promote the production of melatonin, which is often known as the “sleep hormone”. Why not try a banana infusion at bedtime and see if it works for you? Just slice an unpeeled banana into rounds and boil for 10 minutes in a small quantity of water, then leave to infuse for 10 minutes and filter.
Strawberries: the darling of the French nation
From the famous, sweet “Gariguette” created by INRA at the end of the 70s, to the “Pajaro”, there are more than 600 strawberry varieties in existence. The height of harvest season takes place mainly between April and June, though certain up-and-coming varieties can be found until the start of autumn. France’s favourite fruit is available in varying degrees of sweetness or acidity, ranging from bright vermilion to brick red, and “smells good”, according to its latin meaning – fragra, from the verb fragro meaning to smell. Strawberries also contain many nutritional benefits such as antioxidants and vitamin C, which are all important for keeping us healthy.
Cucumber: keeping our salads light and fresh
Easy on the pocket, cucumber is easy to prepare and low on calories. Every year, as temperatures begin to rise, cucumbers are a huge hit in France and French households consume around 4kg every year. 80% of cucumbers are long, straight and smooth, while their green skins are tender and crisp, not at all bitter, with few seeds. Cucumber is invariably consumed raw in salads, but is also really tasty cooked, or as a vegetable side dish. Rich in water, cucumber is great for quenching the thirst. And with its high vitamin and mineral content, it’s a daily ally to help us keep trim. 133,000 tonnes of cucumber are produced every year in France, essentially from the Loire (18%), Provence-Alpes Cotes d’Azur (12%) and Centre (12%).
Radishes: great for kids
Crisp, fresh, light and crunchy – these adjectives all describe the radish to a T. Radishes are root-vegetables like cabbage and belong to the mustard family. There are many different varieties found in a multitude of different colours, sizes and shapes, from pink, white, red and black (black radish is a winter vegetable), to two-toned with a white collar, long, round, big or small. France is Europe’s second largest producer, producing 51,000 tonnes every year and pipping the Netherlands in to third place. The two most important areas of production are the Loire (27%) and Rhone-Alpes (21%). Radishes will keep well for around a week on the vegetable rack, but it’s best to remove the tops and wash them first. They can be enjoyed dipped in salt with bread and butter to accentuate their hot, peppery taste, or in salads with other raw vegetables.
Asparagus: the ultimate spring vegetable
White, purple or green, asparagus is an essential spring delicacy. Delicious eaten on its own with a dash of vinaigrette, it is equally tasty served in a gratin or sauce. For many years considered a luxury item, today asparagus is a much more affordable purchase. Rich in potassium, magnesium and vitamins, it is relatively low in calories, so there’s no need to feel guilty about tucking into a plate of asparagus. While you may find fresh asparagus adorning shelves around Christmas and New Year, or at the end of the season, it is officially a spring vegetable. France boasts an annual production of 19,000 tonnes, essentially in the regions of Aquitaine Limousin Poitou-Charentes, Languedoc-Roussillon Midi-Pyrénées, Alsace Champagne-Ardenne Lorraine and Central Loire.
Did you know? Asparagus originally stems from the lily family, together with the onion, leek and garlic.
Sources : Agreste – Eurostat – Kantar Worldpanel – Kantar Worldpanel 2011