In Season early summer: Billington plums, peas

Reviewed by our expert panel
In Season early summer: Billington plums, peas

Billington plums

AKA Christmas plums, these little beauties are one of NZ’s earliest-cropping varieties.

They’re sweet, so delicious for eating raw, but are also good for bottling, freezing, jams and jellies. Plums have been around for a very long time and appear to have been eaten by our ancient ancestors, with remains found in Neolithic-age archaeological sites.

The red pigment in the skin and flesh of Billington plums is from anthocyanins, which are also found in berries, cherries and grapes. These anthocyanins are antioxidant compounds.

Eating at least two serves of fruit each day helps maintain good health because we get greater amounts of the different antioxidant compounds they contain.
• Pork and plum stir-fry
• Nectarine and plum compote


The fresher the pea, the sweeter the taste, so use them quickly after picking or buying, and don’t overcook, to get the best texture and flavour. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge, if necessary. As well as being a popular boiled, steamed or sautéed side, this versatile vege is great raw or cooked in salads and is a favourite curry ingredient. And, with their vibrant green, peas are used in many more ways. Try them in a purée, pesto or soup.

Need more fibre in your day? Want protein with that? Go no further than the humble pea. A three-quarter cup serve of cooked peas provides 9g fibre and 6g protein for just 350kJ. That fibre and protein combo is made to satisfy, plus you’ll get good amounts of vitamin C, folate, niacin, thiamin and iron too.

Fresh this month

(Harvested in New Zealand gardens in December)

Beetroot, broccoli, buttercup squash, butternut, green cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, courgettes, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, garlic, globe artichoke, lettuce, onions, parsnip, peas, potato, radish, runner beans, shallots, silver beet, spinach, turnip, watercress.

Basil, coriander, dill, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme.

Avocado, apricots, Billington plums, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cherries, gooseberries, kiwifruit, navel and Valencia oranges, peaches, strawberries, tangelos, watermelon.

First published: Dec 2018

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