It smells great at your local fruit and veg shop this week, with citrus fruit in abundance and a large variety of hearty winter vegetables available – put on your apron and start experimenting!
There’s good news for those of us who like a smooth spread of avo on toast – the Hass is back! Coming in from Far North Queensland, the Hass is available in small and large… and extra-large! Remember, you don’t have to squeeze the whole fruit to check if it’s ripe – just give it a gentle squeeze at the top of the stem; you want your avocado to be soft, but firm. The firmer Shepard avocado is at the end of its season.
We’re short of Cavendish bananas due to the cold weather, but there’s a steady supply of Lady Fingers from northern New South Wales. Lady Fingers don’t oxidise and get brown as quickly as the Cavendish variety, which makes them a perfect addition to fruit salads. Add some crispy apples and pears to that fruit salad – they’re in heavy supply from Stanthorpe in Queensland, Shepparton in Victoria, and Batlow in New South Wales. Seedless watermelons are eating well, and rockmelons are also in good supply. Disappearing from the shelves are grapes and persimmons.
Gayndah – the self-proclaimed citrus capital of Queensland – is delivering on that title, with an abundance of high-quality fruit including ruby grapefruit, lemons, limes, and both Imperial and Daisy mandarins. Most people are familiar with the smooth, thin-skinned, easy-to-peel Imperial mandarin, but if you’ve never tried a Daisy, give it a go – it’s a glossy, deep orange-red in colour, with a sweet flavour and high juice content. And of course, there’s the delicious navel orange, which is coming in from Mildura. Oranges are great in baked goods – try some homemade orange treats such as muffins, cakes, tarts, and slices.
In veggies, local supplies of sweet potatoes, pumpkins and butternut are increasing, just in time for cooler months. Pumpkins don’t need a lot of work – just cut them up in chunks, roast them in the oven- they’ll come out juicy and sweet. They also make a good curry, if you’ve had enough of pumpkin soup! Keep an eye out for Asian vegetables such as wombok, brinjal, and bok choy from Nambour. For a quick side dish, with a big umami punch, sauté bok choy in olive oil with oyster sauce and garlic. Serve alongside soup, rice, or noodle dishes.
Freshly harvested brown onions from Tasmania and eggplants from Bundaberg are in good supply – combine them with garlic oil and oregano for a simple, rustic bake. While Bundaberg is moderately supplying capsicums, zucchini, snow peas and spring onions, Gatton is producing plenty of purple cabbage, green beans and carrots. The rains last month have affected broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce, leaving them in short supply. Tomatoes are very short and priced at a premium as the supply shifts between regions. The Stanthorpe season is almost over, and the new-season from North Queensland will commence mid-June.
Make the most of good value leeks from Victoria, white radish from South Australia and Brussels sprouts from New South Wales as they are available in ample supply.
This week’s top pick is fennel from Victoria. A member of the carrot family, fennel has an aromatic anise flavour that pairs well with lemon, mushrooms, apples, beetroot and orange. Look for white bulbs that are firm and free of brown spots. The stalks should be crisp, with feathery, bright-green fronds. Store in the crisper section of the refrigerator for up to a week. Fennel can be shaved into fresh salads or braised in a thick sauce, in soups, or roasted and served with pasta, veggies and grains.
– Produce report supplied by Brismark