FRESH FACT:  Bananas (much like money) do NOT grow on trees. Related to the lily and orchid, the banana plant is actually a giant herb that produces edible fruit, known to reach 9m in height, it is the world’s largest perennial plant without a woody stem.


The banana is one of the most well known and easily recognisable fruits in Australia- we even have a really big one as a landmark up near Coffs Harbour. It’s not hard to understand why we’re so enamoured with the fruit, it is a healthy snack that is convenient to eat, tasty and affordable. But how can this everyday favourite dessert style fruit translate onto the menu? Today we’re taking a broader look at bananas, going beyond the dessert fruit to banana products that are lesser known yet, valuable in the kitchen. As an overgrown herb, the banana plant itself deserves some attention as the blossoms and leaves have their own unique flavour, character and purpose. Or for something different, why not include plantain (or cooking bananas) on the menu, found in Cuban, Caribbean cuisine they are a fabulous alternative to root vegetables being both versatile and interesting.


PLANTAIN BANANAS: aka Cooking Bananas

Image: www.specialtyproduce.com

Availability: all year

Use: used as a vegetable, popular in Caribbean, Mexican and Asian cuisine

Appearance: firm fruit with a thick green skin, they are longer and fatter than sweet bananas (Cavendish etc) .

Flavour: less sugar, more starch- these bananas boast a taste and texture somewhat similar to a potato, getting sweeter as they ripen

Preparation: must be cooked- can be fried, boiled, baked, pickled, sautéed, mashed and stewed




Availability: all year

Use: the banana heart within the bud can be prepared like a vegetable and adds wonderful texture to dishes

Appearance: unopened, crimson red-purple bud

Flavour: rich, creamy, nutty flavour, however the stamens of the flowers inside can lend it a sharp/bitter edge

Preparation: once cut drizzle use lemon/lime mix to prevent discolouration. To soften the sometimes astringent edge, the heart is often soaked/steamed before use- then grilled, chopped into salads



image: www.uq.edu.au

Availability: all year- please note there is a minimum 7 day turnaround for orders of banana arms

Use: highly ornamental

Appearance: green dessert bananas still attached to the

Flavour: the bananas on the arm are Cavendish, therefore dessert bananas


LADYFINGER BANANAS: aka sugar bananas

Image: wwww.marketfresh.com.au

Availability: all year

Use: dessert banana

Appearance: short banana with a very thin skin

Flavour: very sweet

Preparation: eat fresh or sliced into desserts, salads etc



Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Available: all year

Appearance: bright green, ridged leaves

Use: ornamental or wrapping food into a parcel that is to be grilled, steamed, boiled

Flavour: not eaten but lend a flavour to the food they wrap/contain

Preparation: pass over a flame (heat source) before using as a wrap as this will make them more hardy and prevent them from tearing.


Grilled chicken and banana flower salad via SBS Food – see full recipe here

Image: SBS Food

Exotic Mushrooms

FRESH FACT: The oyster mushroom is used widely in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Indian cooking and is often considered to be an ‘Asian mushroom’, in actual fact however the fungus was first cultivated in Germany (circa 1917) as a subsistence measure after WW1. Since this time, oyster mushrooms have gone on to become one of the world’s most important mushroom crops.

Mushrooms have been a prized food for thousands of years. Today we wanted to showcase the mushroom varieties- used widely in Asian cuisine- that are now enjoying broader culinary use and a growing popularity in Australia. Thanks to modern farming techniques, many of these varieties are now cultivated on our shores and with their unique flavour, texture and appearance they are an ideal complement to the lighter, delicate flavours of the Spring/Summer months.

AVAILABILITY: exotic mushroom varieties are available in varying quantities year round in Australia- with domestic produce farmed in controlled conditions and imported produce on hand we experience few significant breaks in supply. Please note: due to the highly perishable nature of these items SG&S buy fresh from the markets based on demand, therefore notice (minimum 24-48 hours) is required for the exotic mushroom range- in particular Namenko and Chestnut Mushrooms.


ENOKI MUSHROOMS: aka Enok, Enokitake, Enokidake, Golden Needle, Golden, Snow Puff, Vel

Image: www.mushroomchef.com.au

Appearance: beige to off white, spaghetti like stems with a small cap on top (wild varieties are light brown and bigger)

Flavour: mild flavour and crisp texture

Preparation: enoki can be eaten raw or cooked (think Shabu Shabu- hot pot), trim base and prepare as desired, if cooking add just prior to serving


OYSTER MUSHROOMS: aka Abalone mushroom, Pleurote, Hiratake, Tree Oyster

Image: www.mushroomchef.com.au

Appearance: fan/shell shaped with prominent gills on the underside (reminiscent of an oyster)- range in colour from white, to yellow to pink

Flavour: delicate, subtly sweet and very versatile- velvety texture they absorbs surrounding flavours

Preparation: best after a flash in the pan– team with fish, white meats & noodles- avoid washing, wipe with a damp cloth & trim ends. Order as required, highly perishable


KING OYSTER: aka King Brown, King Trumpet, Trumpet Royale

Image: www.mushroomchef.com.au

Appearance: stout mushroom with a small flat cap (creamy-tan in colour)- giving it a trumpet like shape

Flavour: hearty mushroom flavour

Preparation: trim end of stem before use- cooked it reaches its true ‘almond’ flavour potential- retains its firm, meaty texture under heat


NAMENKO MUSHROOMS: aka Nameko mushrooms, butterscotch mushroom

Image: www.li-sunexoticmushrooms.com.au

Appearance: sticky looking mushroom with slender white stem and amber- yellow rounded cap

Flavour: slightly nutty flavour, silky texture

Preparation: essential in Japanese cuisine, often cooked in stir-fries and miso soup- alternatively sauté, grill or roast



Appearance: cluster of bunched mushrooms with off-white stems and small brown-grey cap that get whiter as they mature

Flavour: when cooked they boast a mild, slightly nutty flavour with a firm yet tender texture

Preparation: cut stems off base before cooking- great in soups, stir-fries, sauces, casseroles, tempura


SHITAKI MUSHROOMS: aka Shiitake, Black Forest Mushroom, Brown Oak, Oriental Black

Image: www.mushroomchef.com.au

Appearance: broad umbrella cap ranging in colour from brown to black with light brown gills

Flavour: with a meaty texture and an aromatic, woody flavour this is a firm favourite

Preparation: remove stalk before cooking- pair with white meats, fish, pastas anything that wont overpower its distinctive, rich flavour. While too tough to eat, the stalks of shitake mushrooms lend a rich flavour to stocks/broths/soups.


WOOD EAR: aka Black Fungus, Ear Cloud

Image: www.mushroomchef.com.au

Appearance: grey-brown, shaped like an ear

Flavour: used mainly for their distinctive texture and ability to soak up neighbouring flavours

Preparation: available fresh, this is a favourite in Asian cuisine – think small pieces in soups, stir-fries and risottos


Market Insight- Pine Mushrooms, Ghost Mushrooms, Chestnuts and Pig Ear Mushrooms should be starting/becoming more consistent soon, we will keep you informed as to when they are available. For further information on mushroom varieties please visit our previous bulletins – Packed to the Gills and Into the Wild.


Dandelion, Melbourne- Tofu and mushroom pho with lily buds via Gourmet Traveller- see full recipe here

Image: www.gourmettraveller.com.au



BUYER'S GUIDE: Asian/Exotics 29th May - 5th June

Asian Vegetables: Short Supply

Asian Celery * Gai Choy * Tamarind * Water Spinach

Asian Vegetables: Not Available


Exotic Fruits: Short Supply

Cumquats * Longans * Tamarillo (gold)*

Exotic Fruits: Not Available

Asian Plum * Green Mangoes * Lychee * Red Pomelos * Rambutan

BUYER'S GUIDE: 22nd - 28th May


The market overall is settling in for what looks to be a good winter season across both fruit and veggies. Citrus is in abundance, vegetable are in good supply and supply and demand is matching across the range... except for Tomatoes, which we will see back in play within the next 2 weeks. 


No real shorts at all, Rockmelons, Strawberries and Raspberries still holding up in price, but no problems with supply.  Plenty to choose from including the imports- USA Cherries, Mexican Mangoes and NZ Gold Kiwi. Also, we will see the first of the USA grapes by middle of next month and with the change in import requirements, they will be cheaper and better quality than in the past!  Aussie Blood Oranges will be available beginning of June.


Just a couple on the upper end of price, but no problems with supply: Broccoli, Red Capsicums (quality), Cucumbers, and Tomatoes (quality and price)!! All the colours are there, the quality is sound and priced to suit.

The cooler weather is affecting the edible flowers supply and limiting the range. On an exciting note, we should see the first of the Aussie Truffles by the second week of June if not earlier and the word is we could be in for our best season (quality wise) to date!!


Fruit: Avocado (QLD) * Beurre Bosc Pears (VIC)  * Cherries (imported) * Grape - red seedless (VIC) * Watermelon - seedless (QLD)

Vegetable: Button Mushrooms (NSW) * Carrot - med/lge (TAS) * Cocktail Chat Potatoes (SA) * Green Beans (QLD) * Heirloom Tomatoes


Fruit:  Gold Kiwifruit (Imp- NZ) * Tangello (QLD)

Vegetable: Baby Turnip (NSW) * Borlotti Bean (QLD) * French Radish (NSW) * Hawaiian Sweet Potato (QLD) * Morel Mushroom- fresh  (Imp) * Porcini Mushroom- fresh (Imp) * Purple Dutch Carrot (NSW) * Red Witlof (VIC)


Short Supply: Chestnut Mushroom * Raspberries (expensive ) * Yellow Oyster Mushrooms

Not Available: Blood Oranges * Purple Asparagus

BUYER'S GUIDE: Asian/Exotics 15th - 21st May

Asian Vegetables: Short Supply

Asian Celery * Gai Choy * Shiso Leaf * Water Spinach

Asian Vegetables: Not Available

Kachay * Tamarind

Exotic Fruits: Short Supply

Buddha Hands * Cumquats * Figs * Loquats * Tamarillo (gold)*

Exotic Fruits: Not Available

Asian Plum * Green Mangoes * Longan * Lychee * Red Pomelos * Rambutan


BUYER'S GUIDE: 15th - 21st May


Tomato Agent's dream as prices go through the roof!!

Supply is short but the abnormally high figure is driven by the Market Agents not the farmer. Ever since we grew accustomed to crazy prices for fresh produce after the first QLD cyclone, the market agents are quick to jump- especially Tomato Agents!! In short, tomatoes are available this week but are over the top in price!

As for the rest of the market, very little change. Some slight increases matched by an equal amount of decreases.


One to watch again this week is Strawberries- which are still holding ground but will come back over the next few weeks.

Rockmelons are still up in price but quality is good- plenty to cover for them this week. Both Watermelons are down in price, as are Honeydews.

Apples, Pears, Kiwifruit & Gold Kiwi, imported Dates, Mandarins, imported Mangoes, New Season Navel Oranges, Pineapples, Dragonfruit & Pomegranates! Go the Fruit!


Red Light on Tomatoes where possible!

Other ones to watch: Rocket will be available, supply is down, price is up- same with good Lebanese Cucumbers! Sub Gold Squash for Yellow Zucchinis. Baby Caps (Red and Vine Sweet) are NA, the rest is clear.

Artichokes, Cauliflowers, Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Chinese Cabbage, Celery, Celeriac, Chillies, Eggplant, Leeks, Mushrooms, Peas, Sweet Corn, Sweet Potatoes & Zucchini- all good to go.

News: USA Cherries by the end of the week!!



Fruit: Avocado (QLD) * Gold Kiwifruit (imported) * Mangoes (imported) * Navel Oranges - lge (SA) * Watermelon - seedless (QLD)

Vegetable: Celery (VIC) * Fresh Green Peas (VIC) * Leek - lge (VIC) * Portabello Mushrooms (NSW) * Red Spanish Onion (SA)


Fruit: Golden Delicious Apples (VIC) * Cumquats (QLD) * Feijoas (NSW) * Guava (QLD) * Pomegranate (VIC) * Quince (QLD)

Vegetable: Honeycomb - full frame (QLD) * Jap Pumpkins (QLD) * Red Witlof (VIC) * Slippery Jack Mushrooms (NSW)


Short Supply: Raspberries (expensive ) * Wild Rocket

Not Available: Baby Red Capsicum * Blood Oranges * Yellow Zucchini

BUYER'S GUIDE: 8th May - 14th May


The cooler weather and the changeover of growing areas is affecting some products (these will hold throughout winter or come back into play once the QLD season switches on in 3 to 4 weeks time).

Main products affected:

Figs: Price on the move and supply slowing as the season comes to an end. SGS will have supply right throughout winter, just watch the cost from June onwards

Grapes: Quality Seedless White and Coloured on the move up in price

Honeydew: QLD season has commenced and it is expected price, quality and supply will hold as is for the winter

Rockmelon: QLD season has commenced, price will hold till the season get into full swing in the next 3 to 4 weeks

Strawberries: Limited supplies at present- eating quality just okay and price right up there. Will change with the QLD Season commencing early June

Tomatoes: QLD- Bowen season about 3 weeks away, expect market to stay high till then

Watermelons: Quality is better in the small size melons for both varieties, price back this week


Honeydews, Rockmelons & Strawberries the 3 main products to watch out for- price and quality.

Prime Products are Apples, Pears, Citrus, Hass Avocados, Bananas, Pineapples, Kiwifruit, Imported Dates, Dragonfruit, Pomegranates, Pomelos  & Quince.


Tomatoes, Gold Squash, Red Witlof, Gourmet Rocket & Spinach are the mains ones to watch this week- quality, supply and price. Rocket will be short due to poor weather down south.

Prime Products are Artichokes, Beans - Broad, Borlotti, Continental & Green, Broccolini, Cauliflowers, Celery, Eggplant, Cos and Iceberg Lettuce, Button Mushrooms, Sweet Potatoes & Zucchini.   

News from WA: Bumper Truffle crop expect this coming season, peaking in July!



Fruit: Bethonga Pineapple (QLD) * Californian Dates (Import) * Granny Smith Apples- med (VIC) * Kiwifruit- bulk buy (VIC) * Mandarin (QLD)

Vegetable: Baby Broccoli (VIC) * Button Mushrooms (NSW) * Celeriac (NSW) * Silverbeet (NSW)- Sweet Potato - lge (QLD)


Fruit: Feijoas (NSW) * Longans (Import) * Mangoes (Import) * Pears - Beuure Bosc (VIC) * Pears - Honey(VIC)

Vegetable: Baby Dutch Carrot (NSW) * Baby Globe Artichoke (NSW) * Habanero Chili- HOT (NSW) * Honeycomb - full frame (QLD) * Portabello Mushroom (NSW)


Short Supply: Red Witlof

Not Available: Baby Red Capsicum * Green Mangoes * Oyster Mushroom- Pink * Oyster Mushroom- Yellow


BUYER'S GUIDE: 1st May - 7th May

It is a good market this week due to supply still outweighing demand for most of the main lines.

PROBLEMS: Rockmelons * Honeydews * Strawberries * Watermelons * Roma Tomatoes

SOLUTIONS: Bananas * Grapes * Kiwifruit * Mandarins * Pineapples * Tomatoes (small)

We are starting to see an increase in Winter lines at the markets and if the weather holds we should have a great winter 'fresh produce' wise. Also worth a mention, as of last week, 90% of Australia's growing regions are classified drought free. Amen!


Everything except stonefruit, melons (all) and straweberries are in good supply, good eating and well priced.

Apples, Pears, Avocadoes, New Season Navel Oranges, Mandarins, Pineapples, Quinces, Pomegranates and imported mangoes are the picks of the week.


Just Roma Tomatoes, Cherry Truss and Shiso Leaf are the main ones to watch out for this week, otherwise it's a green light from Artichokes to Zucchinis.

Beetroot, Broccoli, Cauliflowers, Continental Cucumbers, Leeks, Sweet Potatoes, Swedes, Butternut Pumpkin and Zucchini are the veggie picks.

NB: New Season Australian Truffles will be available early June. Let the fun begin.



Fruit: Bethonga Pineapple * Delicious Apples -med (VIC) * Grapefruit - Marsh (QLD) * Mandarin (QLD) * Pomegranate (NSW)

Vegetable: Beetroot - large (TAS) * Celeriac (NSW) * Leek - large (VIC) * Sweet Potato - large (QLD) * Zucchini - green (VIC)


Fruit: Mango (Imported) * Mangosteen (Imported) * Papaya- green/cooking (QLD) * Quince (QLD)

Vegetable: Baby Globe Atichokes (NSW) * Baby Purple Carrots (NSW) * Roman (continental) Beans (NSW) * Red Witlof (VIC) * Tomato- Bella Rossa (NSW) * Tomato - Heirloom Mix (NSW)


Short Supply: Cherry Truss Tomatoes * Longan

Not Available: Broad Bean * Rambutan * Shiso Leaf



Q: What is the difference between a baby leek and a pencil leek? 

Often in winter, we find pleasure in the oversized;  big coats, big coffees, big portions. But bigger isn’t always better, in fact this week we are paying homage to a range of fresh veggies that are desirable because they are small

Baby vegetable lines have been on the increase in popularity for a number of years. Not only are they more delicate in appearance, but they also tend to have a milder (or sweeter) flavour than their large scale brethren. Versatile and delicious, they are a fantastic addition to the menu as they are both practical and inspirational. So downsize with pleasure and enjoy our range of baby veges this winter: 



Image Source: www.marketfresh.com.au

Availability: best May – Nov

Appearance: small purple beetroot with long green and purple leaves similar in texture to spinach

Preparation: use leafy stalks like spinach/silverbeet or purple tuber as per regular beetroot

Flavour: sweeter, more delicate flavour than regular beetroot

Big deal: beyond its more delicate appearance, baby beets are more tender and have a finer texture than regular beetroot



Image Source: biovia.com

Availability: best May – Nov

Appearance: yellow coloured baby beetroot

Preparation: use leafy stalks like spinach/silverbeet or purple tuber as per regular beetroot- steam or roast to get the most out of their flavour and texture

Flavour: creamy beetroot flavour, though they are earthier and not as sweet red varieties

Big deal: offers a wonderful contrast of colour, more tender and has a finer texture than regular beetroot 


BELLA ROSSA CAPSICUM: aka baby red capsicum 

Image source: www.perfection.com.au

Availability: all year

Appearance: small, round, red capsicum- approx 1/3rd of the size of regular capsicum

Preparation: roast, bake, stir-fry, casseroles, salads 

Flavour: sweet, crunchy

Big deal: thinner skin than regular caps and perfect for single serve use



Image Source: www.perfection.com.au

Availability: all year

Appearance: elongated thin caps (approx 6cm)- red, orange or yellow

Preparation: minimal prep needed, use raw in salads or use in casseroles, stews, stir-fries

Flavour: crunchy, sweet and juicy

Big deal: ripened on the vine, full of moist, sweet flavour. Vibrant colour and holds shape well when cooked


DUTCH CARROTS: aka baby carrots

Image Source: www.marketfresh.com.au

Availability: best Mar - Aug

Appearance: small purple, white, yellow or orange carrots, still attached to the green leaves & sold in bunches

Preparation: perfect for baking, roasting, raw – even for pickling/brining

Flavour: sweet (purple are even sweeter)

Big deal: very tender, dutch carrots are perfect for serving whole as a side dish



Image Source: www.marketfresh.com.au

Availability: Mar - Aug

Appearance: small, orange round ball-shaped carrots with leaves still attached

Preparation: perfect for all types of cooking and roasting

Flavour: sweet, crisp

Big deal: look fantastic on the plate and are fantastic for cooking 


CONTINENTAL EGGPLANT: aka baby eggplant, oriental eggplant

Image Source: www.marketfresh.com.au

Availability: all year- best Jan - Jul

Appearance: thin, long eggplants varying in colour from light green to purple

Preparation: stew, fry, bake or grill 

Flavour: moist and succulent, not as acidic as full size eggplant

Big deal: cooks quickly, has a much thinner skin than regular eggplant 



Image source: www.fruitezy.com.au

Availability: Mar – Sept 

Appearance: small fennel bulbs

Preparation: both leaves and base are edible. Fantastic in Mediterranean dishes, they are compatible with sweet and salty flavours. Think salads, soups, casseroles, fish dishes

Flavour: slightly richer aniseed flavour than regular fennel. Leaves are stronger, base is sweeter and less pungent

Big deal: beautiful flavour coupled with a more delicate appearance on the plate



Image: www.allotmentplanplotter.blogspot.com

Availability: Mar - Oct

Appearance: pencil thin, small leeks (different to baby leek which are thicker)

Preparation: often used as a steamed side-dish or chopped into a salad in place of salads onions 

Flavour: milder leek flavour

Big deal: more delicate appearance and flavour than large leeks and therefore perfect as a side-dish or salad ingredient



Image Source: www.naturespride.eu

Availability: May - Oct

Appearance: small white or purple top turnips (approx 5cm) 

Preparation: great for salads, roasting, in casseroles, stews etc – or slice into stir-fry

Flavour: can be eaten raw as not as strong as regular turnip- sweet and peppery

Big deal: milder flavour, not as bitter as full grown counterpart 


A: It really does come down to a matter of millimeters. Pencil leeks are literally ‘pencil thin’ (approx 7-8mm in diameter), while baby leeks are a touch broader (average 11-15mm in diameter). While it may seem inconsequential, both pencil leeks and baby leeks boast a sweet, subtle onion flavour, this kind of distinction can make all the difference in achieving the desired aesthetic and balance of flavours on the plate. 

BUYER'S GUIDE: Asian/Exotics 24th Apr - 30th Apr

Some movement on Asian and Exotic produce lines, with early Mexican Mangoes arriving at the markets as well as short supply on some exotic fruits:

Asian Vegetables: Short Supply

Asian Celery * Gai Choy * Water Spinach

Asian Vegetables: Not Available

Kachay * Tamarind

Exotic Fruits: Short Supply

Longan * Mango * Mangosteen * Tamarillo (gold)* Tamarillo (red)

Exotic Fruits: Not Available

Asian Plum * Buddha Hands * Cumquats * Green Mangoes * Loquats * Lychee * Red Pomellos * Rambutan