En­joy a taste of the ex­otic

Cus­tard ap­ple farm­ers share some sweet news

Whitsunday Times - - LIFE TASTE -

FOL­LOW­ING a warm sum­mer and a burst of rain in March, this sea­son’s cus­tard ap­ples are at their prime and ready for eat­ing. Grow­ers have an­nounced a bumper crop of the full-flavoured, creamy and vi­ta­m­in­rich fruit, which is now avail­able in stores. The per­fect way to add a trop­i­cal touch to au­tumn and win­ter dishes, this ex­otic green-skinned fruit flour­ishes with the help of the lu­nar moon. They have a sur­pris­ing fresh and creamy tex­ture that is well-suited to sweet dishes or sim­ply en­joyed torn or cut apart as a snack. De­spite all key-grow­ing re­gions, from Ma­reeba in Far North Queens­land to Lis­more in North­ern NSW, be­ing bat­tered by Mother Na­ture in the wake of Cy­clone Deb­bie, there was still plenty of fruit on the trees that with­stood dam­age. Cus­tard ap­ple grower Patti Stacey in Al­stonville, NSW, says farm­ers are very grate­ful for the sup­port they’ve re­ceived and that any fruit that weath­ered the storms is still per­fect on the in­side. “Thank­fully, our or­chards are in the hills so fruit re­mained pro­tected from the floods, and we’d al­ready grown a healthy crop – al­most 50% big­ger than last year. “The rain in our area has brought the cus­tard ap­ples to peak a bit ear­lier this year, so there’s lots of fruit around right now, and the hot sum­mer made them su­per-sweet. “If you’re en­joy­ing cus­tard ap­ples for the first time, it’s a good idea to pick fruit that’s pale green and firm. You can then let them ripen in your fruit bowl at home and, sim­i­lar to av­o­ca­dos, ripe cus­tard ap­ples will give slightly when squeezed.” Patti’s favourite ways to en­joy her de­li­cious cus­tard ap­ples are as a side dish for cur­ries, an ac­com­pa­ni­ment to cheese or fresh on top of a salad. Pick up a cus­tard ap­ple from now un­til Septem­ber from your lo­cal su­per­mar­ket and green­gro­cer.

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