Q: Stephanie Alexander says she can’t a few days without cooking one, but what is a mad apple?
October is the time of year when we start to get quietly excited about the ‘different’ produce lines showing up at that markets. Beyond the New Season Australian white asparagus (just in and exceptional quality), Halloween Pumpkins (ready for carving) and the new season NSW/VIC peaches gracing the quote this week, we wanted to showcase the fresh flavours of some lesser known, quiet achievers of Spring produce. There is a short seasonal window for most of these lines, so why not spring into action and make the most of their unique flavour, texture and aesthetic.
CHAMPAGNE MELON: aka Orange watermelon
Buyer Update: season predicted to last 8 weeks- supply good, quality good & price very reasonable
Availability: sporadic, usually late Spring to early Summer
Appearance: light green skin with darker stripes and golden flesh
Flavour: mild and sweet, less sweet than regular watermelon
Selection: look for symmetry and a heaviness compared to size
Preparation: same as regular watermelon – fresh or great in cocktails, juices, sorbets, even salads
Nutrition: pure hydration being 90% water, orange watermelons are high in Vitamin A and beta-carotene
BELL APPLES: aka water apple, water cherry, rose apple
Buyer Update: quality andsupply are both good, price reasonable- season is fairly short lasting for around 3-4 more weeks
Availability: Sept – end Nov
Appearance: bell shaped fruit with white-red waxy skin. The flesh iscrunchy, juicy and varies in colour
Flavour: Flesh is crisp, sweet, watery and mild in taste – reminiscent of watermelon
Selection: look for a light sheen and firm fruit
Preparation: fruit is often served cored and uncut for aesthetic purposes. Frequently used in salads but can be lightly sautéed
Nutrition: high water content so refreshing and hydrating.
SOYA BEANS: aka Soybean
Buyer Update: available but not in big quantities so there will be weeks when not available, expecting full supply this December- quality good & prices reasonable
Availability: very short – late Spring/Summer
Appearance: smallgreen furry pod with 2-3 small green beans inside
Flavour: delicious, fresh bean flavour- some people say they taste part bean, part pea
Selection: look for relatively crisp beans free that are from blemishes
Preparation: must be cooked with ‘wet’ heat to be edible to humans- as Edamame with oil, chilli and salt or perhaps a soy hummus?
Nutrition: a complete source of protein these are considered meat for vegetarians. Very good source of fibre, calcium and magnesium
SEEDLESS EGGPLANT: aka Aubergine
Buyer Update: – local (NSW) fruit in full swing with supply plentiful- grown in a glasshouse it looks great, quality is very good & prices reasonable
Availability: Spring – Summer (approx. Sept- Feb)
Appearance: small- med sized fruit is slightly elongated, whereas the bigger fruit is a fuller eggplant shape. Firm, white flesh free of seeds
Flavour: eggplant without the bitter seeds, mild and tender with a consistent texture
Selection: look for firm fruit, heavy for its size with dark and shiny skin and a fresh green stalk
Preparation: seedless eggplant is not as bitter therefore shouldn’t require degorging, they also have a longer shelf life
Nutrition: good source of dietary fibre, with some Vitamin C and potassium
Buyer Update: currentlyin season- supply, quality & prices all good and steady
Availability: fairly short season- end August – end October
Appearance: there are multiple varieties (white, red and black) but the best eating is the black mulberry which looks similar to a blackberry but is larger, more oval in shape and usually comes attached to the stem
Flavour: aromatic fruit that melts in your mouth- sweet with slight acid taste
Selection: look for intensely coloured, plump fruit- deteriorate quickly
Preparation: beautiful fresh, in jams, cocktails, sorbets, desserts – just beware of staining
Nutrition: rich source of anti-oxidants, good source of magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, iron, calcium, vitamin C and fibre
AUSTRALIAN GROWN – GARLIC BRAIDS/BUNCHES:
We have added Australian Grown garlic braids and bunches to our Spring product range this year. While a little more expensive, the flavour and quality is excellent.
Buyer Update: in season- not in excessive supply, quality good
A: Believe it or not ‘mad apple’ was once a common name for the eggplant in Europe. The nightshade family were feared when first introduced to Europe in the 1500s with both the tomato and the eggplant considered suspicious and in some measure toxic. Louis XIV (French King in the 1600s) was the first in France to plant eggplant in his garden, a bold move considering the plant was believed to cause epilepsy and described by one author as a “fruit(s) as large as pears, but with bad qualities.” The modern Greek and the Italian names for eggplant allude to this controversial past, both deriving from the Latin mala insana– meaning apple of madness or mad apple.