Kumara - New Zealand's Culinary Vegetable
Fieldco is a family-owned and operated business located in the sunny Kaipara, near Dargaville – ‘The Kumara Capital of New Zealand’. Since 1976, three generations of the Simpkin family have been supplying Kiwis with some of the best fresh produce in New Zealand. At Fieldco, we combine generations of local knowledge of the land with evolving technologies to make sure our produce is as good as it can be. We’re always growing to meet New Zealand’s evolving needs. They are involved with every step of the growing process. They look after the seed selection and cultivation, plant health and cropcare through to harvesting, storing and washing, then cutting and freezing ready for you to use. Paddock to plate in the most realistic sense!
Kūmara is a very labour-intensive crop to harvest, unlike some other root crops. All kūmara are handpicked due to the delicate nature of the skin that scrapes easily in harvest.
Over the last year, kūmara has been very short in supply due to Cyclone Gabrielle in February 2023 and the weather events following this. In February, typically this is when most growers are starting to harvest and last year, the cyclone hit before any growers had harvested any out of the ground. This saw the entire industry's crop being cut/decreased by 75%' as an industry average.
Extra care must be taken once the crop is harvested due to its very delicate skin – they aren’t as hardy as they look! This meant all Fieldco kūmara you saw on the shelves last year would’ve been picked off the ground by hand! Too wet to get any of Fieldco’s larger tractors in, it was more efficient and better on the kūmara for storage as well.
Varieties of kumara
There is good reason they say variety is the spice of life. Kūmara is no exception! Experiment with the different ﬂavour and texture proﬁles of each variety.
THERE ARE 4 MAIN VARIETIES OF KŪMARA IN NEW ZEALAND:
Traditionally known as the Original Red variety, it's somewhat a culinary icon of New Zealand Kūmara.
It's the primary commercial crop in Kaipara and remains the most popular kūmara type. Featuring a deep red skin and creamy white ﬂesh with veins- in the centre, Owairaka Red has a ﬁrm texture, making it perfect for salads or roasting.
These are commonly enjoyed as ‘sweet potato’ in many countries. Its rich orange skin and sweet orange ﬂesh makes it a colourful vegetable and a likely candidate for many sweet recipes.
This is softer in texture compared to the Original Red and has a faster cooking time. Its soft texture means it is best suited to use for a mash or as a potato or pumpkin substitute in any dish.
This is another variety that is a native New Zealand variety. The Tokatoka Gold is indigenous to the Kaipara, named after the iconic TokaToka Peak. Tokatoka Gold kūmara has a golden skin and a tender, golden ﬂesh, sharing a texture akin to the Beauregard variety. Renowned for their soft ﬂesh, Tokatoka Golds are more suited to roasting.
Known for its earthy taste and soft texture, it's excellent for roasting and mashing. The vibrant color also makes it a great addition to kūmara medleys. As part of the purple vegetable family, Purple Dawn is regarded as superior in terms of additional antioxidants compared to other kūmara varieties.
COOKING TIP: Add a dash of vinegar into the water while you boil these to help the kumara retain their vibrant purple colour.
Kūmara has a natural sweet taste that lends itself to being a very versatile vegetable, being included in both sweet or savoury dishes.
Herbs and Spices: Fresh herbs such as coriander, basil and thyme all pair nicely with the sweetness of kūmara. Also try spices such as nutmeg, smoked paprika or sumac.
Pair with zesty ﬂ avours like lemon or orange to compliment the sweetness of kūmara.
Other ﬂavours that pair well with kūmara include, walnuts, pecans, orange, garlic, chorizo and bacon.
Head to www.ﬁeldco.co.nz/recipe/ for more tasty recipes and inspiration.
Looking to save time in the kitchen?
Preparing kūmara can be hard work.
Fieldco, one of the largest kūmara growers here in New Zealand, is working to make it easy for people to include kūmara on their menu. Growing all their produce for the best ﬂ avour, their products are naturally packed with goodness and save you prep time.
ORANGE DICE: Beauregard dice product is a great product to add to any soups, casseroles, or pies.
RED DICE: Add some natural sweetness of the Original Red kūmara variety to any dish.
YUMMO’S – these are Fieldco’s bite-sized baby kūmara portions. These make a tasty side dish with minimal effort and are a convenient choice for a vegetarian or vegan main.
Orange Portions: Peeled and steamed, ready to go!
Red Portions: Our original red kumara, peeled and steamed ready to roast.