It's peak sweet pineapple season
THERE'S a theory that you can test a pineapple's ripeness by plucking a leaf from the top. If it comes out easily, the pineapple is ripe.
Bangalow pineapple farmer Mike Burless says there's an even easier and more obvious way to tell - at least for his pineapples - and that's by colour.
"If they're nice and yellow, they're ready,” he said.
March and early April are peak season for Mike's pineapples, and during this time his stall at the Mullumbimby Farmers' Market is piled high with these fragrant ripe yellow fruit that smell delicious and are beautifully sweet.
The summer/autumn months are also a good time for another of the staples on Mike's farm - peanuts. Once one of the most popular crops in the area, Mike is now one of the only local farmers growing this unusual legume.
He says they are a fascinating plant because they flower above the ground, but the peanut (the fruit) grows below ground: "They have this little yellow flower that comes out for one day, and then that night it falls off, and the little branch it was on pushes into the ground. Then little peg where the flower was becomes the peanut.”
Once harvested, the peanuts from Mike's farm are dried and then either left raw or roasted fresh for the farmers' markets. Mike tells his customers that to keep the roasted peanuts fresh; they should be stored in an airtight container as soon as you have them home from the market. You can also pop them in a 140-degree oven for 20 minutes to bring back their crispiness.
Coming into the cooler months, Mike will be harvesting the other crop he is known for - potatoes. Mike will have plenty of Dutch Cream and Nicolas but also the hard-to-find King Edward. These potatoes are an old English heirloom variety renowned for their light fluffy texture, which makes them excellent for roasting baking and gnocchi. Mike is one of the only King Edward growers in NSW, so it's unlikely you'll find them anywhere but the markets.
Daikon radish, white turnips and swedes and Jerusalem artichokes are the other veggies market goers can look forward to from Mike's farm in the coming months.
Find Bangalow Farm at the Mullumbimby Farmers' Market every Friday.