Seasonal Fruit > Seasonal Candy

My friend recently posted something on Facebook that I found particularly on point. She alluded to the fact that people get seriously excited about holiday candy (i.e. Cadbury eggs), but not so much about seasonal fruits and vegetables. I’m in total agreement – I’ve always wondered that myself. I believe that ads play a huge part in this, since if you watch tv or are on the Internet at all, you’re constantly bombarded with reminders that limited holiday editions of M&M’s are now available! Only for a short time, so get them now! When was the last time that an ad reminded you to get your local blueberries now while they’re in season? I’m guessing that would be…never.

It’s also due to the fact that we can now get any fruit and vegetable year-round that our taste buds desire. Anyone that read Laura Ingalls Wilder growing up probably remembers her being overjoyed to get a single orange in her stocking for Christmas. Those days are long gone with the improvement of transportation. You want fresh blueberries and peaches for your oatmeal in the dead of winter? No problem! Just pop on over to the store and load up. But once you’ve had a just-picked, sun-warmed fuzzy peach that leaves your chin a mess because of its abundant juiciness, it is ridiculous to even think of that hard, bland lump that is in the stores in the winter as a peach. Granted, it can be spruced up with a bit of maple, oats, and nuts and turned into a tasty little peach crisp (the oven does wonders for under-ripe fruit), but if you plan on eating it fresh, don’t bother! Best to wait until late summer when juicy peaches are in abundance. Sadly, though, quite a few people aren’t aware of the seasons and rarely buy fruit when in season. Can you imagine the difference in America’s waistlines, though, if you were constantly blasted with ads that made you want to go out and buy a fresh, fuzzy peach ASAP? Imagine this…

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Image via Pinterest

…but with peaches! The text certainly applies to seasonal fruit as well. Next time you see an ad like this, think of what fruit or vegetable might be in season that you absolutely can’t wait to sink your teeth into, and go out and buy it instead of that holiday candy! Your body will thank you, and you’ll be supporting your local farmers instead of a candy conglomerate. If you need help figuring out what’s in season when, let me know and I’d be more than happy to help 🙂

One of my absolute favorite fruits to buy at this time are, in fact, not local (not much local fruit in New England right now except for some apples from last fall), but certainly seasonal. I’m sure you’ve seen those golden-yellow mangos in stores for the past few weeks, sometimes called Ataulfo mangos. If you haven’t had one yet, go out and get one now before they’re gone for another year! They’re sweeter than normal reddish green mangos, and have a honey-like flavor that is incomparable. I get ridiculously excited when I see the first ones appear every year, and then proceed to eat one (or more!) each day until they’re gone. I also came up with the recipe below in order to use up some leftover mangos since I’d been a bit overzealous on my last trip to the store.

These little dessert jars appear complicated with four different components, but I promise you that they’re much simpler than they look. They’re a lovely, light, and fresh way to end dinner that reminds you of the summer that’s soon to come! Panna cotta is also an easy and quick dessert to master, but one that never fails to impress. You can use this recipe as a base for the next fruit that is in season!

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

serves 4

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. water
1 3/4 tsp. powdered gelatin
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the tablespoon of water. Let bloom while you prepare the cream.
  2. In a medium pot, heat heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds until just under boiling, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 min.
  3. Whisk the buttermilk into the cream mixture and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Pour mixture into small jars or ramekins and put in the fridge until set, about 2-3 hours.

Mango-Lime Puree

Ingredients

2 mangos, peeled and cut into chunks
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp. water

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Taste and add sugar or more lime juice to taste.

Candied Pistachios

Ingredients

1/2 cup shelled and roasted pistachios, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. hot water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the brown sugar and hot water and whisk to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Spread the pistachios on the baking sheet and drizzle sugar over them. Toss to combine.
  4. Bake until light brown and toasted, about 8-10 min. Remove, let cool, and crumble them if there are large chunks.

Lime Meringues

makes 15 three-inch oblongs

Ingredients

2 large egg whites
pinch salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. lime zest, finely grated
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk egg whites and salt with a hand mixer/stand mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar, then beat whites until glossy.
  3. Fold in lime zest and vanilla.
  4. Using a pastry bag or a ziplock bag with the tip cut off, pipe the mixture into 3-inch long oblongs on the baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 30-40 min, until just getting golden around the edges.
  6. Let cool on the sheets for 2-3 minutes, then remove to wire racks.

The Whole Shebang

  1. Remove the panna cotta from the fridge. Make sure it’s set, then pour a few tablespoons of the mango-lime puree over the panna cotta.
  2. Sprinkle the candied pistachios over the mango puree, and place a meringue on top of the jar or ramekin.
  3. Dig in!!

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