Ho, ho ho! Seven nights to Christmas. The joy of sharing food plays an important role in any celebration, so plan your festive meals around summer’s best produce arriving at your local fruit and veg shop this week.
Sink your teeth into luscious, sweet-tart stone fruit as they are in abundant supplies and great quality. Your jolly choices are blood plums, nectarines, white or yellow-fleshed peaches and apricots from Victoria.
Fill your trolley with sweet summer berries – select from strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries as they represent good value. New-season grapes from Emerald are crisp and bursting with flavour – grab a bunch of seedless red or green variety at your local fruit and veg shop.
Mango season is in full swing, especially the Kensington Pride variety arriving from Bowen and Dimbulah. The tropical aroma is a good indication but be sure to look for firm ripe fruit that gives slightly to the touch. Mangoes are versatile – great as a snack on their own, perfectly paired with chicken or prawn, thrown on the barbeque, cocktails, smoothies and desserts.
Another seasonal delight making its way to the Markets is figs from Bundaberg. Rich in vitamins and a good source of fibre, figs are great as a snack by themselves or can be added to jams, salads or desserts. Beat the summer heat with coconut lychee coladas as fresh lychees from Mareeba are thriving right now.
There is a consistent supply of good quality watermelons and bananas from Innisfail which is reflected in the low prices, grab them while you can. Avocados and passionfruit are experiencing short supply, but local limes and lemons are plentiful.
With the festive season sneaking up on us and an abundance of locally grown veggies and herbs at hand, this is a great time to plan for salads, roasts and stir-frys. The star performer in herbs is mint – locally grown bunches are ideal for salsas, cocktails, desserts or salads.
Mixed salads will benefit from good supplies of Iceberg lettuce from Toowoomba, mixed salad leaves, radish, sweet potatoes from Bundaberg and the many varieties of tomatoes including gourmet, cherry, mini and roma. Cucumbers and sweetcorn from Bowen are also well-supplied and at their very best flavour and price this week.
Planning a roast? Throw in some carrots, potatoes, onions, parsnips, all in good supply along with a protein, drizzle over olive oil, minced garlic and some chopped rosemary.
If you’ve been experiencing wet weather, leaving you craving some comfort food then try pumpkin soup or opt for steamed dumplings dipped in chilli oil as both pumpkin and chillis are bargain buys right now.
Other fantastic buys include cauliflower from Werribee, beans from Stanthorpe, purple cabbage from Kalbar, zucchini and yellow squash, while broccoli and celery are low in supply.
This week’s top pick is Australian cherries, which are in season for only 100 days. Cherries are having a brilliant season, streaming in from Victoria and other varieties from New South Wales. Look for brightly coloured, glossy fruit with green stems still attached. While a bowl of cherries is a simple pleasure on its own, they make a stunning addition to Christmas trifles, tarts, muffins, or chocolate pavlova.
– Produce report supplied by Brismark