For those who love stone fruit, it has been an abundant season. But for the farmers who grow peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums and cherries, an abundant season is only a good thing if they can sell their crop at a decent price.
Back in November, Nathan Cutri, a grower from Woorinen, in Victoria, was already warning of lower-than-expected prices because of an oversupply and a high Australian dollar.
Australian stone fruit exporters have the advantage of an early start to the season, with a window between November and January. The largest market is Hong Kong, gateway to China.
Second-generation stone fruit grower Michael Tripodi, of Lake Boga, also in Victoria, exported about 15 per cent of his 1000-tonne production this season, all to Hong Kong and all before Chinese New Year.
He says that just before Chinese New Year, Chile flooded the Hong Kong market with 1700 containers of cherries, spelling the end of the export season for Australian stone fruit.
“Chile can land a case of nectarines in Hong Kong for $US10 [$A9.35]. We can’t grow them for that price,” he says.
If the fruit is not sold overseas, growers must sell domestically. More fruit on the local market means lower prices. Good for us but not great for farmers.
STONE FRUIT SANGRIA
Use red wine that’s not big or woody. A medium-body tempranillo, grenache or sangiovese will do the job.
Sieve orange juice into a large bowl. Add red wine, sugar, Grand Marnier, cinnamon stick and peppercorns. Peel thin strips from lemons, making sure not to take any white pith. Add strips to red wine mix and stir well. Peel all stone fruit and cut into wedges, adding to the mixture, along with mint leaves. Stir well and cover bowl with cling film. Refrigerate for 2 hours. When ready, serve in bowls as dessert. Also good for a weekend breakfast.
Wine Brachetto d’acqui
POACHED PEACHES WITH ZABAGLIONE
Wash peaches and dry. Place in a saucepan with sugar and sweet wine. Bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove peaches and cool. Cut in half, remove stones and peel. Place in poaching liquid in a sealed container and refrigerate until needed. Fill a large saucepan about a third full with water and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, in a stainless-steel bowl that will fit over the saucepan, beat egg yolks, castor sugar and hazelnut liqueur until pale and creamy. Add 6 tablespoons of peach poaching liquid and whisk in. Place bowl over saucepan and turn down to a simmer, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Keep whisking for 5-8 minutes or until zabaglione thickens. Place in a container to cool before storing in refrigerator. Serve two peach halves for each person with some zabaglione and finish with crushed, roasted hazelnuts on top.
Serves 6 as dessert
Wine Late-picked or botrytis riesling or semillon