Waitangi Day is the line in the sand when it comes to New Zealand summer I reckon. The big stuff all happens ‘Pre-Waitangi’; the massive 6 week school holiday kicks off for the kids, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, road trips, tropical cyclones………….
Come Feb and the return to school – ‘Post-Waitangi’ summer kicks in.
It’s just my opinion but this is where the best summering happens as we all begin to savour every last sunshine-y Sunday, every after school beach-dash and every balmy BBQ dinner. Shaking every last grain of sand out of summer in New Zealand is our duty as Kiwis. Much like our ‘no man left behind’ attitude to summer stonefruit or our ‘eat ALL the berries’ culinary philosophy, making the most of these golden days is in our blood and helps me survive the extreme hardships of winter……in Auckland :::::::shudder::::::
Forget your kiwifruit or Navel Oranges, or any other fruit growing without a stone, bramble or vine. I’m a summer fruit girl from way back. As such, a snatched glimpse of a laden Christmas Plum or Golden Queen tree has always been a bit of a trigger for me (I’m sure many of you can relate right?). I can remember a very blurry summer holiday when I was around 12 and had the good fortune to be invited away with my besties family. The bach we were staying at had a marvelously overgrown and steep backyard that wound its way uphill towards the neighbouring fence line. Exploring in the shade of the afternoons once we returned from the beach yielded a marvelous discovery – a Golden Queen peach tree, surely as ancient as the Kauri, (I mean, it was definitely as BIG as a Kauri wink wink, I was 12 remember!) literally groaning under the burden of its fruit. The dilapidated fence separating us from our golden prize was merely a challenge, and not of the moral kind, unfortunately. The lack of houses in any direction simply reinforced the fact that this ripe token of summer was ours for the taking, and besides, pilfered fruit always seemed to taste a wee bit better when you were 12!
Fast forward more than 20 years and some of the first things I purchased when we bought our house were fruit trees. One Golden Queen peach tree, one heritage black plum and one nectarine tree. To be honest, my mini-orchard was on the back-foot from day one with its care in my decidedly less-than-green hands so we are struggling, but, I’m picking the 2019 harvest will be a beauty, ie we might get some fruit we can eat! My lack of peach-prowess could, of course, be due to the fact that we do not live in the Hawkes Bay. They’ve got that peach growing on lockdown there which is why another kiwi fave of mine, Tip Top, keeps it local and uses real fruit grown by real NZ farmers in their Peaches & Cream Ice cream – no dodgy fence jumping going on here either, tsk tsk 12yo Melissa lol. When we’re growing so much amazing produce right here in NZ we should absolutely expect that our local suppliers are sourcing FRESH ingredients from those growing it locally. Combining one of our most beloved summer fruits with the goodness of New Zealand milk and cream is a taste of summer I hope my boys will remember as synonymous with growing up in New Zealand.
The iconic Boysenberry is another kiwi fave that takes me back to pinching fruit from the vine on my Nana’s farm. Its incarnation into the multiple award-winning Boysenberry Ripple ice cream from Tip Top has made boysenberries a generational obsession in our family. If there was a momentous stop for a scoop of ice cream when I was a kid, I don’t remember my Mum ever (ever, EVER) selecting any flavour other than Boysenberry. Habit or heritage, whimsy or some other romantic hankering for the past, the fruit and flavours of New Zealand are freaking awesome and play a huge role in how I remember the 38 summers of my life.
Nelson farmers have taken up the reins and for years have been supplying Tip Top with enough kiwi boysenberries to keep that famous ripple in the freezer year round – but I reckon ice cream always tastes better in summer, yeah?
Keeping it real and, real kiwi is a big deal to Tip Top, one of the bit-players in each of my summers. Recognizing the importance of legacy ingredients in our lives, it’s rad to see that using REAL fruit grown right here is just as important to the big guys as it is to would-be-backyard-mum-orchardists who might one day grow enough peaches for each of us to have one simultaneously.
This post was made possible by the good peeps at Tip Top!
PS Find our waffle recipe here