The best fruits and vegetables in season for Christmas
Fruit and nuts are the essence of Christmas cooking. Whether it’s a trickle of juice from a brilliantly coloured clementine, the scent of almond marzipan or the waft of sweetness that fills the kitchen as you bake mince pies, nothing spells out the season better.
There are the vine fruits, sultanas, raisins, currants and cherries at the soul of our traditional Christmas puddings and cakes, but also the juice of lemons and oranges in everything from jellies to glasses of mulled wine. There’s the grated zest of small citrus fruits in pastries and pot roasts and then there are nuts galore, from almond paste to spiced walnuts to pass around with drinks. Let’s see them:
The smell of clementines is immediately evocative of Christmas. Their sweet-sour tang has a festive air, whether you’re eating or baking them. From mid November to January, clementines are at their finest, leaving some calling them ‘Christmas Oranges’.
The blood orange is smaller than the average orange and has distinctive dark flesh. The three most common types of blood oranges are the Tarocco (native to Italy), the Sanguinello (native to Spain), and the Moro, believed to have originated in Sicily. The anthocyanins which give the orange its distinct maroon color will only develop when temperatures are low at night, as during the Mediterranean autumn and winter.
Pomegranate trees are not seen in Hungary, although they are found nearby our border with Croatia. The fruits, imported into Hungary from the Mediterranean and Africa, were traditionally sold in festive markets around Christmas time, with the hundreds of fleshy seeds picked out and eaten with a pin. Now pomegranates are a very fashionable “super-fruit”.
Brussels sprouts are a loved and loathed Christmas vegetable, traditionally the nemesis of small children – young taste buds don’t appreciate the bitter flavour. These tiny green balls of misery/delight are the single most controversial course on any Christmas dinner table. And the reason for this is simple, they’re healthy, and healthy is good for you.
The flavour of parsnips is said to be improved by a sharp frost, which converts their starch to sugar. They are a traditional favourite with roast turkey, often glazed with honey and served roasted, or mashed with butter.
Yes, we know they’re not a fruit or veg, but we couldn’t not include nuts as a seasonal favourite. Brazil nuts are a rich source of selenium, a nutrient that helps protect cells and could prevent certain types of cancer, while walnuts are loaded with antioxidants. The latter can be grown very successfully in Hungary, while Brazil nuts are a traditional import at Christmas. via telegraph.co.uk
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