What happened to the old days where you would rotate your crops from year to year, eat food you could grow yourself in the country you live in and having fruit and vegetables only when they were in season? Today when you walk down the isle of any supermarket, certainly in England, you can buy ANY fruit and vegetables at ANY time throughout the year. People want to buy only food that is perfectly shaped, and if the food is not available in England, it gets imported. If a tomato is not red enough to their taste, it is thrown away, rotten, used as animal feed or just wasted. This is the sad reality of the society we are living in today.
Coming from South Africa myself, the great thing is that you still have all this. If you walk into a supermarket, you buy what they harvested. If it is not apricot season, you can't buy it, you have to wait.
This is great, because it teaches our children to look forward to something, get excited about the simple things in life, not always demanding, know their country, their seasons and depend on the outcome of the crops. If you don't have good rains or enough crops, you don't eat. These days they do import if there is a shortage, but in general, the cost of importing is far to great.
Luckily South Africa is a net exporter of fruit, vegetables and crops like maelies and sunflowers.
Having only seasonal fruit and vegetables to work with, encourages you to use your imagination, be inventive and daring when it comes to cooking! You make sure to spread all activities throughout the year and plan your menu, including your desserts, by season. In my mother's house we basically had a routine of how things were done.
December is summer holidays and everyone, including the children and parents, had off. Almost all the companies are closed over December, so it worked out very well with the children's holiday falling at the same time as their parents.
In our house we would bake cookies and cook lots and lots of jam! Apricot season is from December and we have halve of a great big apricot tree from next door, hanging over to our side of the house. My sister and I would pick the apricots from the trees, eat a lot of it in between, and take the remaining to the kitchen so my mother could make some jam! She made a large amount of jam, enough to last us all the way through to next year December! By doing this, you could use up the fruits you could not finish eating, and enjoy it throughout the year. We would do exactly the same with the figs in our garden and enjoy the grapes, apples and peaches as they were in season.
It was amazing to just step out of our back door and having all these great fruits on our doorstep.
Imagine only having to step outside to find the necessary ingredients to bake a great tasting traditional South African dessert like "malva" pudding.
Make the best of what you have, try and eat fruits and vegetables that are in season and live healthy.
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About the Author: Lizel Salter is the author of Simply South African, a very keen cook and loves baking. Read more about South Africa and traditional recipes at www.recipesfromsouthafrica.
By: Lizel Salter