Local and seasonal dining has been a buzzing trend for the last couple of years. Whether it be cooking with just-plucked ingredients or making vegetables the star of our meals, our diets have grown accustomed to farm-fresh produce. Not only is seasonal eating better for the planet as it reduces production and carbon costs, but it tends to be fresher and more nutritious.
According to a 2022 Trend Specials Report “mindfulness is on the menu! Consumers want to be good to themselves, to the people around them and to the planet”. Not just a passing fad either, it’s a growing trend. “Hyper local is the new local” says acclaimed chef and AEG ambassador Mark Best. Essentially this means restaurants are growing their own when possible or looking close to home and connecting with producers and their communities to supply hyper-local ingredients from within a few kilometres.
How do you make the most of this hyper-local trend? Aside from growing your own, when possible, try buying from local, independent and small batch producers like butchers and green grocers. Sign up to hyper-local food delivery services, cut down on imported, frozen and packaged products and get more creative in the kitchen. If a recipe calls for something that is hard-to-reach, simply swap it for locally bought ingredients and try to stock your cocktail trolley with locally distilled spirits.
The key to this hyper-local trend is making the most of the fresh ingredients. Here’s our guide on the best ways to prepare your locally sourced produce.
Having gone to all the effort to grow or buy hyper-local vegetables and just-caught fish, don’t overcook them. Learn to steam. Steaming is one of the best (and healthiest) ways to let natural flavours seep through. A steam oven gently cooks your food, preserving its moisture, colours, flavours and vitamins. The AEG SteamPro oven has humidity sensors that measure and adjust the level of steam to exactly what each dish needs. The combination of hot air and moisture improves flavour and texture while preserving crispness.
Hob to it
One of the best things about hyper-local cuisine is that it’s nutrient packed. Cooking at the exact right temperature lets you retain the benefits of fresh produce. Frying or boiling at the right temperature is key to retain juices, flavours and vitamins inside your food. Use a cooktop that is equipped with a wireless food sensor, like the AEG SensePro hobs, which not only allow you to cook food evenly but will automatically identify temperatures to the exact degree and communicate heat adjustments to the hob. This way you let the hob do the work. Starting on a high setting to get the cooking process going, it will automatically adjust the heat as soon as it’s needed.
Seal in the nutrients
Don’t be afraid to sous vide. There’s a reason this cooking method is growing in tandem with hyper-local cuisine. It’s one of the best methods for retaining all the vitamins and nutrients in your ingredients. It also ensures the ingredients are cooked evenly all the way through, making meat and fish extremely tender and vegetables incredibly crisp and colourful. The process involves sealing food in an airtight container—usually a vacuum sealed bag—and then cooking in a separate sous vide cooker. However, if you have a wireless sensor on your cooktop, like the AEG SensePro hob, you can simply sous vide right on the hob, with no more extra gear than a vacuum sealing device, a cooking bag and a regular cooking pot. Simple.