The fresh fruit and veg are as crispy as the weather’s been this week at your local fruit and veg shop. The carrots and capsicums are particularly satisfying to bite into fresh, but of course, they also make delicious home-cooked winter meals.
Do you know what else is crispy? Apples and pears. Most pear varieties such as Packham, Corella and Bosc are widely available; and so are Fuji, Royal Gala and Granny Smith apples. Try a Waldorf salad with apple, celery, walnuts, and grapes with a little mayo for something a little different on the side.
Ultra-juicy Imperial mandarin and navel oranges and red-fleshed grapefruit from Gayndah and Mundubbera are also in excellent supply. These citrus fruits can be preserved in jams and are perfect for fruit compotes, upside-down cakes, and meringue pies.
It’s a great week to add some gold kiwifruit and raspberries to your basket, with fresh supplies coming straight out of Mount Tamborine and Caboolture, respectively. Queensland-grown strawberries are also increasing in supply, but the great quality means they’re at a premium.
Don’t miss out on sweet pineapples from Mackay that are eating beautifully too; cut your pineapples into pieces and store them in an airtight container in the fridge to avoid browning. Banana and passionfruit supplies have been impacted by the cold weather, but custard apples from northern New South Wales, Victorian grapes and pomegranates are in fair supply.
In veggies, growers are producing plenty of value buys this week including snow peas from Gatton, corn from Bowen, cauliflower from the Lockyer Valley, green beans from Gympie, celery from Stanthorpe, and sweet potatoes from Gin Gin.
We all love a good hearty soup in winter, and what better ingredients than well-supplied locally grown vegetables? Try pairings like potato and leeks, tomato and coriander, carrot and fennel, and pumpkin and corn.
Both eggplants and capsicum continue their good runs in terms of quality and volume from Bundaberg and Bowen. Cherry tomato supplies are also plentiful from Bundaberg; wonderful for snacking and salads, cherry tomatoes make a great addition to pasta dishes too, especially if you don’t want to make a heavy sauce but still want that tomato goodness for flavour.
In herbs, basil and mint supplies are limited due to frosty weather, but Aussie garlic is in great supply and adds a great flavour burst for most meals – throw some minced garlic into Greek yoghurt with ground coriander, lemon, salt and pepper to dip fresh veggies into; it also goes great with lamb dishes. Leafy greens such as kale, silverbeet, lettuce and spinach are plentiful, while supplies of broccoli and zucchini are light.
This week’s top pick is the creamy Hass avocado. The quality is excellent and the supply from North Queensland is plentiful. To check for ripeness, gently press the top of the avocado and look for a deep purple tinge on the skin. Store unripe avocados at room temperature. For those who can’t wait for their avocado fix, speed up the ripening process by placing avocados in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana for two to three days as both apples and banana release ethylene gas, which accelerates the ripening process.