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 28th Aug-3rd Sept

Asian Vegetables: Short Supply

Water Spinach

Asian Vegetables: Not Available

 Asian Celery * Gai Choy * Kachay * Sugar Cane * Tamarind

Exotic Fruits: Short Supply

Banana Buds/Bell

Exotic Fruits: Not Available

Asian Plum * Buddha Hands * Dragonfruit * Guava * Longans * Loquats * Lychee * Pomelos- red * Rambutan *  Tamarillo (gold)

BUYER'S GUIDE: 28th Aug - 3rd Sept


The Buy list: Delicious Apples, Hass Avocadoes, Blueberries, Cumquats, Kiwifruit, Mandarins, Blood Oranges, Passionfruit, Packham Pears, Pineapples, Rhubarb, Rockmelons & QLD Strawberries. 

The Watch List: Grapes (Quality), Figs (PRICE), Honeydew (Price), Lime (Price), Red Papaya (Price), Seedless Watermelons (Price & Quality).

Market Insights: NT Mangoes season has commenced and it is good quality for early season fruit. The first of the early season Stonefruit “Peaches” are on market, quality is 4/10 but indicates the season is not far off. The main lines to watch this week are Honeydews & Seedless watermelons (price and quality) & Red Papaya (price). USA cherries are all over for this season, next available will be Australian fruit in November, with best quality arriving closer to Xmas.


The Buy list: Beetroot, Carrots, Cauliflowers, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Cime Di Rapa, Chinese Leaf Veg, Kale, Kohl Rabi, Leeks, Yam Oka, Zucchini , Spuds & Sweet Potatoes.

The Watch List: Capsicums (Quality & Price), Eggplant (Price), Gold Squash (Price), Tomatoes (Price) & Jarradale Pumpkin (Price).

Market Insights: Capsicums are having supply issues which is pushing prices up, will see this change next week. Green Peas are available just limited in supply and quality. Sweetcorn is over its supply problems and is coming back in to the fold daily. New season Jumbo Asparagus has commenced and it is JUMBO. Also Edible flowers are slowly rolling in, seeing more variety on market each week. Zucchini Flowers are also back in the fold.


Fruit: Blueberries (NSW) * Mandarin (QLD) * Packham Pears (VIC) * Pineapple (QLD) * Strawberries- large (QLD)

Vegetable: Beetroot- large (QLD) * Celery (VIC) * Chat Potatoes (SA) * Green Beans (QLD) * Zucchini (QLD)  


Fruit: Baby Pineapples - with stems (QLD) * Banana Leaves (QLD) * Blackberries (NSW) * New Season Mangoes- VIP (NT) * Plate Strawberries- VIP (QLD)

Vegetable: Broad Beans (NSW) * Cime de Rapa (NSW) * Truss Tomatoes- blush petite (NSW) * Radicchio (NSW) * Sorrel- red vein (VIC)


Expensive: Limes

Short Supply & Expensive: Honeydew * Butter Beans- yellow

Not Available: USA Cherries * Dragon Fruit * Chestnut Mushrooms

BUYER'S GUIDE: 21st Aug - 27th Aug


The Buy list: Apples, Blueberries, Cumquats, Kiwifruit, Mandarins, Nashi Pears, Oranges, Passionfruit, Red Papaya, Pineapples, Rhubarb, and QLD Strawberries.

The Watch List: Honeydews, Seedless Melons, Limes, Raspberries. Honeydews are short in supply. Lime quality is sound, supply is shortening and price is on the up. Raspberries, supply available just expensive. The quality of Seedless Watermelons is about 7/10.

Market Insights: It’s a good week for fruit with most lines in good supply and well priced. New Season mangoes are available but just not eating at their best yet. New season USA Seedless Grapes are having a few issues with quality, early season QLD grapes are available but quality is nothing special. Figs are still available as well. Overall a good week for Fruit.


The Buy list: Beetroot, Carrots, Cauliflowers, Celeriac, Chinese Leaf Vegs, Telegraph Cucumbers, Fennel, Micro Herbs, Leeks, Gourmet salads, Kale, Kohl Rabi, Sweet Potatoes, Spuds and Onions.

The Watch List: Red & Green Capsicums, Cos Lettuce, Sweet Corn, Fresh Green Peas and All Tomatoes.

Market Insights: Sweet Corn is very short in supply, will see this change by next Monday. Tomatoes still short & expensive but will see relief by end of next week, same with Red & Green Capsicums.


Fruit: Blood Oranges (QLD) * Blueberries (NSW) * Kiwifruit (NZ) * Pineapple (QLD) * Strawberries- large (QLD)

Vegetable: Cauliflower (QLD) * Celeriac (VIC) * Leek - large (SA) * Potato- brushed chip (NSW) * Wild Rocket (VIC)


Fruit: Baby Pineapples - with stems (QLD) * Dates- California (USA) * Gold Kiwifruit (NZ * Mangosteen (IMP) * Plate Strawberries - VIP (QLD)

Vegetable: Baby Garlic (NSW) * Cime de Rapa (NSW) * Kale-coloured (NSW) * Kohlrabi (NSW) * Sorrel - red vein (VIC)


Short Supply: Namenko Mushroom

Short Supply & Expensive: Honeydew * Sweetcorn

Not Available: Dragonfruit * Finger Fennel * Chestnut Mushroom

BUYER'S GUIDE: Asian/Exotics 14th Aug-20th Aug

Asian Vegetables: Short Supply

Gai Choy * Jicama * Water Spinach

Asian Vegetables: Not Available

 Asian Celery * Kachay * Sugar Cane * Tamarind

Exotic Fruits: Short Supply

Banana Buds/Bell * Guava- cooking

Exotic Fruits: Not Available

Asian Plum * Buddha Hands * Dragonfruit * Longans * Loquats * Lychee * Pomelos- red * Rambutan *  Tamarillo (gold)

BUYER'S GUIDE: 14th Aug - 20th Aug


The Buy list: Apples, Bananas, Blueberries, Ruby Grapefruit, Kiwifruit, Mandarins, Oranges, All Pears, Blood Oranges, Papaw, Passionfruit, Pineapples & Strawberries.

The Watch List: Honeydews, Seedless Watermelons, Papaya & Figs. 

Market Insights: USA Cherries coming to an end this week, as are Australian Grapes- quality is ok on both without being remarkable. Seedless New Season USA Red, Black & White Grapes are available with pricing back this week, more of the same in coming weeks. Figs are available but limited in supply and expensive.

Honeydews are very short and will stay this way for the next 4 weeks, quality Seedless Watermelons are expensive and size is medium. Red Papaya has shot up this week, the good news is there is ample supply of Pawpaw which is well priced to cover.

Rockmelons, Pineapples and Papaw best subs for Honeydews and Seedless Watermelons.


The Buy list: Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Celery, Chicory, Chinese Leaf Veg, Leeks, All Gourmet Salad Mix, Swedes, Gold Sweet Potatoes, All Spuds Red, White & Gourmet, Salad Onions and Green Zucchini.

The Watch List: Green Beans, Broccoli, Red Capsicums, Sweet Corn and all Tomatoes.

Market Insights: New Season Australian Asparagus is just a few weeks away, by early September we should see the first arrivals. Meanwhile the Australian Truffle season is in its closing stages. We are still feeling the effect of past poor weather with Broccoli, Red Capsicums and good quality Tomatoes in short supply and in the high dollar zone. All quality Tomatoes will stay this way for the next 2 weeks, Green Beans, Broccoli, Red Capsicums and Sweet Corn will drift back by early next week.

The quality of the best buy lines are excellent, priced to suit with good colour range. 


Fruit: Blueberries (NSW) *Kiwifruit (NZ) * Mandarin (QLD) * Pawpaw- yellow (QLD) * Strawberries- large (QLD) 

Vegetable: Beetroot-large (QLD) * Brussel Sprouts (VIC) * Celeriac (VIC) * Chat Potatoes- desiree (SA) * Zucchini- green (QLD)


Fruit: Apples- royal gala (NSW) * Beurre Bosc Pears (VIC) * Blood Oranges (QLD) * Cumquats (QLD) * Grapes - red seedless (USA) * Honey Pears (VIC) * Strawberries - VIP (QLD)

Vegetable: Chicory (NSW) * Okra (NT) * Tuscan Cabbage (NSW)


Short Supply: Vine Sweet Baby Capsicum * Zucchini Flowers

Short Supply & Expensive: Honeydew * Sweetcorn

Not Available: Dragonfruit * Finger Fennel


Q: What is a corm and how does it differ from a bulb?

With August comes Winter’s last hurrah; the skies get clearer, the days warmer and the heart warming casseroles, sausages, roasts and stews begin to give way to fresher, lighter dishes. So, before the turn of the seasons calls for lighter, healthier Spring menus- why not make the most of the earthy, rustic flavour (and the cost-efficiency) of this season’s  bulbs, roots, tubers and corms.

CELERIAC: aka Celery Root

Click to enlarge

Classification: root

Availability: all year, best Mar – late Sept

Market Update: quality is currently good and price steady

Appearance: creamy brown, knobby tuber with white flesh

Flavour: rich texture & slightly smoky flavour – cross between celery and parsley

Preparation: don’t wash until use, peel tough outer layer. Think remoulade, soups, chips, or as a side (boiled, steamed, mashed). Raw they are often grated in salads (use lemon to prevent discolouration after cutting)

Health Benefits: good source of dietary fibre and Vit C



Click to enlarge

Classification: bulb

Availability: generally Mar- Nov, best Jul-Sept

Market Update: large fennel bulbs are one of our best buys this week- good supply, good quality and well priced

Appearance: firm, crisp white- light green bulb made up of overlapping stems

Flavour: light, slightly sweet aniseed flavour

Preparation: every part of a fennel plant is edible. The leaves have a stronger flavour

Health Benefits: good source of fibre, Vit C, folate, potassium, manganese and beta-carotene as well as phytochemicals and flavonoids



Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Classification: bulb

Availability: Mar – Sept

Market Update: Supply and quality good- prices fair

Appearance: small fennel bulbs

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

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

Health Benefits: good source of fibre, Vit C, folate, potassium, manganese and beta-carotene as well as phytochemicals and flavonoids



Click to enlarge

Classification: bulb

Availability: local season: October-May

Market Update: good supply and quality, currently imported from Mexico, Argentina and China

Appearance: vary in colour from white to pink to purple

Flavour: distinctive, pungent and aromatic

Preparation: preparation technique heavily influences the garlic experience. Break down the cells more and you get a more intense flavour (i.e. crushed is much more intense than slicing)

Health Benefits: natural antibiotic, also assists in management of blood pressure & cholesterol 



Image: www.perfection.com.au

Classification: tuber

Availability: best June – Sept

Market Update: steady supply and quality good, prices at standard levels

Appearance: light brown skin, crisp white flesh

Flavour: nutty, rich, sweet

Preparation: can be eaten raw or cooked as per other tubers ( baked, chipped in soups,  salads, stir-fries). Once peeled coat with lemon water to prevent browning

Health Benefits: suitable for diabetics and large amounts of iron, good source of dietary fibre provides some folate and potassium



Click to enlarge

Classification: bulb

Availability: all year

Market Update: brown onions are great buying at the moment, quality, supply & price good across all lines

Health Benefits: rich in antioxidants, red varieties are also good sources of Vit C and dietary fibre


Appearance: golden brown skin with cream white flesh

Flavour: strong onion flavour

Best use: retains flavour under heat therefore great for cooking

RED: sometimes called Spanish onions

Appearance: red-purple skin with white, red-streaked flesh

Flavour: sweeter than brown, can still have a pungent onion flavour

Preparation: raw in salads or cooked


Appearance: white skin and flesh

Flavour: mild onion flavour

Preparation: raw in salads or cooked

SALAD ONIONS: red or white

Appearance: immature small bulbs on a green stem

Flavour: mild, sweet onion

Preparation: the salad onion


BLACK SALSIFY: aka black oyster plant

Fresh from the market

Classification: root

Availability: generally all year, best autumn/winter

Market Update: quality good, price steady

Appearance: long, slim root with black bark like skin and white flesh

Flavour: creamy, earthy taste some compare to oyster or artichoke

Preparation: wear gloves to avoid staining hands, peel then coat immediately with lemon/vinegar water to prevent browning (often easier just to peel after boiling then prepare as desired).

Health Benefits: particularly good for diabetics, good source of fibre, manganese, potassium, riboflavin, Vit B6 & C



Classification: corm

Availability: different for each variety but usually best May-Aug

Market Update: good quality available and prices steady

Appearance/Flavour/Preparation: for more information on Taro varieties click here

Health Benefits: 3 times the dietary fibre of potatoes, low GI, excellent source of potassium, good amounts of Vit A & C, as well as some calcium and magnesium


To find information on more root and tuber varieties- such as ginger, galangal, jicama, horseradish – click here or explore our blog- www.sgssydney.com.  


A: A corm is an underground, swollen stem that houses a plant’s food stores allowing it to endure periods of shortage (such as winter). While they may appear strikingly similar to their bulbous comrades, corms are very different internally- being made up of tissue housed in a thick skin (called a tunic) in contrast to the layered structure of modified leaves seen in a true bulb. If you’re ever in doubt cut it open, a corm will be solid inside whereas a bulb will have discernable layers. Interestingly,  bananas are a corm- often mistaken for a tree, banana fruit is actually produced on a pseudostem, which.. you guessed it… grows from a corm.


BUYER'S GUIDE: Asian/Exotics 7th Aug-13th Aug

Asian Vegetables: Short Supply

Gai Choy * Water Spinach

Asian Vegetables: Not Available

 Asian Celery * Kachay * Sugar Cane * Tamarind

Exotic Fruits: Short Supply

Banana Buds/Bell * Buddha hands * Guava- cooking

Exotic Fruits: Not Available

Asian Plum * Dragonfruit * Longans * Loquats * Lychee * Pomelos- red * Rambutan *  Tamarillo (gold)

BUYER'S GUIDE: 7th Aug - 13th Aug


FRUIT: Market Summary

The Buy list: All Apples, Blueberries, Kiwifruit, Oranges, Passionfruit, Pawpaw & Papaya, Rhubarb, Ruby Grapefruit and QLD Strawberries.

The Watch List: Honeydew supply is very short this week- quality is nothing special with quality product going for big money. Rockmelons are back in price with the NT season switching on and quality improving. Both Seedless and Long Watermelons are holding in price for quality items.

Market Insights: USA Cherry season is about to end. New Season USA Seedless Grapes have commenced. The first of the New Season NT Mangoes are on the markets this week, however it will be another 3 weeks before regular supplies become available.

VEGETABLES: Market Summary

The Buy list: Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Celeriac, Celery, Chinese Vegies, Leeks, Mushrooms, Parsnips, Mesclun, Wild Rocket & Gourmet Baby Spinach,  All Spuds, Sweet Potatoes and Zucchini. 

The Watch List: Green Beans (quality), Sweetcorn, Lebanese & Telegraph Cucumbers and Tomatoes (all lines) are in short supply and expensive. This will turnaround within 2 weeks as the QLD weather warms up following forecasts of clear skies!

Market Insights: The Australian Asparagus season will commence end of August/early September. Local Red & Green Cabbage is on the shorter side but supply and demand are matched. SA Onion season is on the down-hill run, will finish in 3 weeks.


Fruit: Apples- delicious (VIC) * Blood Oranges (QLD) * Pawpaw- yellow (QLD) * Pineapple (QLD) * Strawberries - large (QLD)

Vegetable: Celeriac (VIC) * Fennel bulb- large (VIC) * Portabello Mushroom (NSW) * Sweet Potato - large (QLD)  * Wild Rocket (VIC)


Fruit: Beurre Bosc Pears (VIC) * Cumquats (QLD)  * Green Mango (QLD) * Mangosteen (IMP) * Starfruit- aka Carambola (QLD)

Vegetable: Baby Endive (VIC) * King Brown Mushrooms (IMP) * Purple Jester Potatoes (TAS) * Treviso (NSW) * White Daikon- radish (NSW)


Short Supply: Butter Bean - yellow * Sweetcorn

Expensive: Baby Green beans * Honeydew

Not Available: Dragonfruit