Fruits and Veggies
Dee Williams preserves Sri Lanka’s bounty
Sri Lanka has a tropical monsoon climate and no seasons as such. Due to changes in weather brought about by the monsoons however, it’s possible to find some amazing fruits and vegetables around the country. It is very important to use produce during a particular season to get the maximum benefit out of it and also maintain a sustainable lifestyle.
While you can use most of the fruits and vegetables all year round, certain produce tastes better when it is in season. This is because the weather impacts their growth.
Normally, the period from March to May is classified as a sort of ‘spring’ in Sri Lanka. The cooler climate in the central part of the island is excellent for producing crops such as cauliflower, beans, bell peppers, cucumbers, salad leaves, leeks, carrots, tomatoes and cabbage.
And the lower country with its dry and wet climate is very good for exotic tropical fruits and vegetables, such as bitter gourd, melon, pineapple, papaya, lime, mango, green chillies, red onions, pumpkin and different types of bananas.
As Sri Lankans, we love to make curries, stir fries and pickles with this amazing produce. When these fruits and vegetables are in abundance, try and preserve them for later use when they’re not in season.
For example, tomatoes can be made into a sauce; or if frozen, the shelf life of fresh tomatoes can increase by up to a year. Freezing vegetables and fruits is a great way to preserve them for a long time. Another method is to pickle the vegetables and fruits so that they can be preserved for use later.
Spring calls for some amazing recipes. Are you someone who loves to make a quick and easy dinner? There are great weeknight meals using green leafy vegetables and herbs.
For herby chicken potpie, you should pan-fry a few chicken thigh fillets with some spices. Then shred the chicken, and add spinach and any herbs that you have. You can throw in some carrots too. Season with salt and pepper, add some crème fraiche and mix it all up. Place it in an oven safe bowl and cover with crimped up filo pastry. Bake it in the oven; and once ready, you can serve up. An amazing way to celebrate leafy vegetables and herbs!
Carrots and beets are great in a raw or baked vegetable salad. Simply chop carrots and beetroot, add olive oil and seasoning, and bake for about 30 minutes.
Once ready, remove from the oven, cool for 10 minutes and add a few leafy greens, nuts, some spices and grated cheese or goat’s cheese for a great side option. Or you can stick to the traditional method of making curries with the vegetables. A delicious way to preserve fruits is to pickle them, or make chutney or jam with them. Using half ripe mangoes and pineapple in chutneys will help preserve these fruits for a long time. You can have them with your meals, in sandwiches or as a dipping sauce for canapés. So now, you can preserve any excess fruits or vegetables you get and retain them for longer use in a sustainable manner.