MANGO MAGIC

Q: What does Paisley pattern have to do with Mangoes?

It’s easy to tell when mangoes are in full swing at the Sydney Markets, not only are the luscious yellow fruits clearly in abundance but their sweet, tropical aroma literally takes over the Flemington site, distracting buyers and visitors with early morning visions of cocktails and beach holidays. While we’re a while off that stage yet, the first of the Kensington Pride mangoes from the Northern Territory have arrived at the markets. They are in good supply, good quality and eating at around an 8/10. To get your juices flowing for the peak mango season and its signature aroma, this week we are sharing inspirational recipes and flavour combinations that capture the essence of this nutritional, delicious and iconic fruit.

Mango varieties: For more information on the individual mango varieties and when to expect them, click here.

The Feel Good Factor: A 200 g mango provides up to 3x the RDI of Vit A and Vit C. They are also a rich source of fibre and potassium and provide more of the anti-oxidant beta-carotene than any other fruit

 

Something Light:

Crunchy Jicama and Mango salad with Chile and Lime

Source: Tyler Florence via Lifestyle Food

NB: With Jicama (yam bean) and mango both in season until December, this crunchy combination of flavours is ideal for a Spring salad. To find out more about Jicama, click here

Click here for full recipe

 

Mango salsa and coconut heart salad

Source: Peter Kuravita via SBS Food

NB: This salad offers a wonderful blend of flavours. While coconut hearts can be a little hard to come by, never fear as granny smith apples are offered as a good replacement

Click here for full recipe

 

Tahitian snapper tartare

Source: Robert Oliver via NZ Herald

Click here for full recipe

 

Something Substantial:

Tali Macchi

Source: Alfred Prasad via Great British Chefs

Click here for full recipe

 

Duck and Mango curry, plus lemon and curry leaf rice

Source: Yotam Ottolenghi via Guardian.co.uk

Click here for full recipe

 

Seared Tuna with Mango Salsa (Ca Tu Chien)

Source: Luke Nguyen via SBS Food

Click here for full recipe

 

Something Sweet:

Caramel mille feuille, mango and gold leaf press and crystalised chilli

Source: Frances Atkins via Great British Chefs

Click here for full recipe

 

Young coconut jelly and burnt mango cream with pandanus macaroons

Source: Martin Boetz via Gourmet Traveller

Click here for full recipe

 

Something Refreshing:

Ceylon Sailor

Source: Wayne Collins via BBC Food

Click here for full recipe

 

Mango, ginger and lemongrass cordial

Source: Gourmet Traveller

Click here for full recipe

 

A: The pattern we all know as Paisley (due to the market dominance of the weavers from Paisley, Scotland during the 1800s) was actually created in India where it was inspired by the shape of the mango- which in India is considered to be a divine food of the Gods symbolising love. In Tamil the paisley pattern is called ‘Mankolam’ (mango design), in Punjabi it is called ‘Ambi’ which derives from ‘Amb’ (mango) and in Pakistan it is called the  ‘Carrey ‘ design with the word ‘Carrey’ meaning mango seed in Urdu.


SPRING’S BOUNTY

Q: Why is Australian white asparagus priced significantly higher than green?

 The end of August is always a period of transition for food lovers, however this year seems especially tough- cold weather along the Eastern Seaboard is slowing supply and hiking up prices on a long list of produce items, ironically just in time for the start of the busy season and there is absolutely nothing on TV that comes close to filling the void left by the Olympics. To put the Spring back in your step and assist with menu planning for the next few months, here are our produce highlights for the coming season. We have included some nutritional information as there’s nothing like feeling good about what you’re eating to make it taste even better on the palate.

SPRING FLAVOURS:

ASPARAGUS:

Image: Freepik

The arrival of the Australian Asparagus season is getting closer with quality spears predicted to arrive at the markets for the first week of September. In particular the arrival of the sweet, tender, home-grown white asparagus is much anticipated due to its premium quality, texture and gourmet aesthetic.       

Supply: Early crops from QLD, main crop from VIC

Green Asparagus: all year, Australian produce best Sept- Dec

Baby Green Asparagus: all year, best Sept- Dec

Purple Asparagus: Oct- Dec

White Asparagus: Sept – Jan

Feel Good Factor: excellent source of Vitamin C & E, dietary fibre, folate and potassium

Inspiration: Confit of Suffolk lamb loin, fresh milk curd, asparagus, spring onions, broad beans, young leeks, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, quinoa, pea flowers, nasturtiums – Peter Gilmore via Lifestyle Food

Click for recipe

AUSTRALIAN GARLIC:

Image: Freepik

Australian Garlic is world’s apart from the imported product available throughout the year and its season is something I have come to get excited about and support every year by paying a premium price for a premium product. For a more comprehensive overview of the garlic varieties currently grown in Australia, their seasonality and characteristics, click here.

Supply: Main growing regions are SA, VIC ,NSW with some early crops from QLD

Australian Garlic Season: October - May

Spring Garlic: available October

Green Garlic: available November

Feel Good Factor: natural antibiotic, also assists in management of blood pressure & cholesterol

Inspiration: Tamworth pork terrine, roast garlic purée, deep fried egg and artichoke Kevin Mangeolles via Great British Chefs

Click for recipe

MANGOES:

Image: www.perfection.com.au

Early Northern Territory mangoes are already arriving at the markets and while they are not yet great eating, it is a sign of the luscious, warm weather and tropical flavours to come. Sydney Markets will be holding its annual mango auction on September 5th  heralding the official opening of the mango season, last year the auction raised $30,000 ($2,500/mango) for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and Westmead Children's Hospital.  For more information on mango varieties and Australian seasons click here

Supply: NT opens the season (peaking around October), before main producer QLD enters the market around November

Feel Good Factor: very high in Vit C and A. Rich source of beta-carotene, fibre and potassium

Inspiration: Mango salsa and coconut heart salad recipe- Peter Kuravita via SBS Food

Click for recipe

SHISO LEAF: aka Perillo

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Shiso Leaf is available in red and green varieties, the red (with its anise and subtle mint flavour) is the most popular in Australia and is used widely in Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine (where traditionally the leaves were used to dye pickled ume or were mixed with ume paste in sushi). While available pretty much all year, Shiso is at its best Nov – Mar

Supply: SG&S predominantly sources our Shiso from local NSW producers  

Feel Good Factor: high in calcium, iron and potassium, rich in fiber, very high in Vit A and C. Believed to have anti-inflammatory properties

Inspiration: Duck yakitori with pumpkin, shiso and daikon salad and plum dipping sauce – via Gourmet Traveller

Click for recipe

PEPINO: aka Sweet Pepino, Melon Pear

Image: www.naturespride.eu

Spring is undeniably the start of the mango and stonefruit season but if you’re looking for something different why not try the pepino. With its distinctive purple stripes, yellow flesh and a juicy flavour reminiscent of melon, banana and pear (depending on who you ask)– it is perfect for spicing up the breakfast menu or adding a twist to sweet and savoury spring salads.

Supply: QLD produces fruit in Spring and Autumn

Feel Good Factor: good source offibre, Vitamin A, B and C

Inspiration: Wild Mexican Shrimp Escabeche with Pepino Melon, Popped Corn, Jicama Salsa - Bernard Guillas via Restaurant Hospitality

Click for recipe

Yam Oka: aka NZ Yam, Oka Yam, Oca

Image: www.vegetables.co.nz

Originally from South America, these sweet tubers offer a wonderful alternative to winter root vegetable lines with their smaller size, tangy, nut flavour and silky texture. Eat with the skin on to get maximum nutritional value, the skin is thin and edible and ensures the yam holds shape when cooked.

Supply: coming from QLD, best in July (season runs for 6-8 weeks)

Feel Good Factor: good source offibre, Vitamin A, B and C

Inspiration: Yam, kumara and pumpkin coconut curry 

Click for recipe

Other items of note for Spring: As the weather warms, the markets will start to come alive with tropical fruits and a wider range of vegetables. Other items to watch out for this Spring include stonefruit (Oct/Nov), berries, chillies, sweetcorn, radishes, edible flowers, watercress and okra.

A: There are two reasons. Firstly, the Australian white asparagus season is brief and given its popularity among food-service professionals (and increasingly with home cooks) demand tends to outstrip supply. The second reason is production costs. To achieve its colour, white asparagus is grown in the dark, preventing sunlight from turning the shoots green. Traditionally this was achieved by keeping the asparagus crown submerged beneath a mound of dirt and using specialised equipment to blind harvest– which led to reduced yields as it was difficult to perform without damaging the crop. Many Australian farmers now employ an innovative system that sees white asparagus grown beneath black polyhouses- essentially a large dark greenhouse, a huge step forward, this farming method achieves wonderful colour, flavour and allows for simpler harvesting practices.


WINTER HARVEST

Q: Can you really buy Artichoke brandy?

Recently a fellow food lover lamented that Winter was a “boring time of year for fruit and veg, there just isn’t much to get excited about”. I can understand the sentiment, at this time of year the markets are brimming with root vegetables, cabbages, apples, pears- all wonderfully delicious and versatile but somehow less exotic and alluring than Summer’s bounty. So, in a bulletin designed to kickstart your love affair with winter produce- we are profiling ‘5 Winter lines’ that the team at SG&S are excited about this year and sharing delicious recipes that showcase the delightful potential of these fantastic Winter finds. In the words of Pietro Aretino, “Let us love the winter, for it is the Spring of genius”.

 

WINTER FLAVOURS:

CITRUS:

The winter citrus season is upon us. Mandarins are at the markets and fantastic eating, as are navel oranges. All signs point to a bumper crop this year.

Supply: Mainly QLD and NSW

Mandarins: while available from March – November, these are at their best May – October

Navel Oranges: the winter orange these are available Jun, July and Aug

Blood Oranges: available Jun – late August

Click for Inspiration

 

ARTICHOKES:

While we are still early in the season; globes, baby globes and Jerusalem artichokes are currently available at the markets. They wont be at their nutty best for a few more weeks, but are still a wonderful addition to the menu.

Supply: Mainly NSW and VIC

Baby globe artichokes: good local stock arriving at the markets- at their best Jun- Aug

Globe Artichokes: still early but available. Peak product will be at the markets from June - Sept

Jerusalem Artichokes: already available, at their best from June – Sept

Click for Inspiration

 

USA CHERRIES:

The USA cherry season is always welcome, as it helps us survive the long wait until the Australian season starts up again in November. Expect more lush Bing fruit and creamy Rainiers again this year

Supply: California, Washington and Oregon

Early fruit will be available from next week, with the season traditionally spanning Jun – Aug

Click for Inspiration

 

TURNIPS/SWEDES:

While many believe them to be old-fashioned and dull, in our minds the delicious Tassie Swedes and local Turnips currently at the markets are vintage gourmet. Their peppery flavour and creamy texture, in addition to their nutritional value and affordability makes turnips and swedes a winter favourite at SG&S.

Supply: Turnips – NSW/VIC, Swedes - TAS

Despite being available all year, the cold weather works wonders for these root veges, meaning turnips, baby turnips and swedes are at their best May – Oct

Click for Inspiration

 

TRUFFLES:

While the Australian Truffle industry is relatively young, producers are unearthing spectacular, premium grade truffles from sites across WA and TAS (with small numbers harvested in NSW/ACT and VIC). In fact, last year around 3 tonnes of this noble, perfumed fungus was grown and sold in Australian markets. We can only hope that 2012 sees another bountiful harvest.

Supply: WA and TAS

Following a wonderful season in 2011, 2012 is looking to be just as promising for Australian Truffles with fresh, aromatic truffles expected to be in good supply from early June to August

Click for inspiration!

 

Other items of note for Winter: Star Apple (Jun- Nov), brassicas (in particular cauliflower) are predicted to be top performers this season due to the cold weather. Beans (broad and borlotti) are also expected to have a great winter with main supply now starting.

A: Yes. Known as Rossler it is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented and distilled Jerusalem Artichokes. This nutty-sweet brew has been produced in Baden, Germany since the 1800s and to this day  90% of all Jerusalem Artichokes harvested in the area are dedicated to producing this brandy like spirit.


CHERRIES ON TOP

Q: What does it mean to ‘cherry pick’ something

This weekend, Young, NSW, the birthplace of the Australian Cherry Industry, is hosting the 62nd National Cherry Festival. First commercially planted in 1878, Young accounts for 60% of the total cherry production in NSW. While NSW and VIC have traditionally been the cherry capitals of Australia, Tassie is hot on their heels as the home of our cherry exports, which is more the pity for us locals as the temperate maritime climate of the island produces lush, large fruit. 

A member of the rose family, the majority of eating cherries are classified as either a sweet (Prunus Avium) or sour cherry (Prunus Cerasus). Sweet cherries are believed to have come from a wild cherry once found in the Caspian– Black Sea region,  these cherries are delicious both fresh and cooked.  Sour varieties can also be eaten fresh but are most often used for cooking, baking and preserving due to their tart flavour.

In recent years, plantations have been established outside traditional growing areas in the hope of prolonging the traditional cherry season which runs from November to February. Similarly to strawberries, a constant supply of cherries is achieved by harvesting different varieties at staggered intervals. To achieve a consistent supply, some states will grow more than 50 different varieties of cherry. It is therefore difficult to compile an exhaustive list, so the table below focuses on the main cherry varieties in NSW, when to look out for them and what to expect.

 

New Australian selections are starting to make their mark but are not yet commercially strong, keep an eye out for Sir Dom, Sir Tom, Dame Roma, Sir Douglas, Dame Nancy and Sir Hans in coming seasons.

So far, the 2011 season has brought mixed fortunes for Australian cherry growers. Cherries are extremely delicate and rains or high winds at harvest time can spell disaster for growers as they can cause the cherries to split or bruise. While the Yarra Valley, Central and North Eastern VIC are projecting one of their most fruitful season’s in decades (if the weather holds), NSW regions are battling high rains that are already causing some of the bigger fruit to split. While still hopeful, local farmers are warning that NSW markets may see a smaller fruit size this year as a result.  

To kick of the season with a bang, here are some inspired cherry recipes to sink your teeth into:

  1. SAVOURY:          Roast Duck with cherries & roast kipfler potatoes
  2. SWEET:                 Watermelon, cherry and rose salad, with shortbread, yoghurt & cherry syrup
  3. PICKLED:             Pickled Cherries (have with duck, pork belly or blue veined cheese)
  4. SLAMMING:       Esta Bebida 2

To find out more about the delicious cherry varieties on offer or to place your order contact Simon George & Sons.

A: Cherries don’t ripen after they’ve been picked, so it has always been important to choose your fruit carefully. To cherry pick is to inspect something very closely, so you come out with only the very best.  With this in mind, how do you cherry pick a cherry?

A cherry’s colour is highly dependent on variety, so a darker skin will not necessarily be the best indicator of maturity. Instead, look for a cherry that is good and plump, with glossy skin and a nice green stem. Avoid soft, dull or bruised fruit or small hard cherries as they will lack flavour and juice.


THE PITS

Q: Where does our Stonefruit come from?

The Australian stone fruit season is underway with early season peaches, nectarines and cherries now available.

Drupes (stone fruits) are fleshy fruits whose seed is encased in a stone at its centre- peaches, nectarines, cherries, plums, apricots (and almonds) all belong to this family. Stone fruit can be broken down into; clingstone, freestone or semi-cling fruits. It is difficult to tell from the appearance of the fruit whether it’s a clinger or a free spirit, so ask your supplier to confirm which they have in stock.

Clingstone:

Image: thenibble.com

Stone clings to the fruit at all stages of maturity and needs to be pried off. Good eating but more time consuming to prepare. Best for: jams, jellies, sauces, purees.

Freestone (Slipstone): 

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Flesh separates easily from the stone allowing for attractive slices to be produced. Freestone are the most popular varieties. Best for: any dish where the appearance of the fruit is important

Semi-cling:

Image: www.facebook.com

A hybrid of clingstone and freestone, the stone separates from the pit when fully ripe. Tend to be smaller than freestone. Best for: everything, good all-rounder

Peaches and nectarines are the first stone fruits to hit the markets in summer, so here’s the low down on the much loved Persian Apple and its shaved fraternal twin.

Despite the rather common belief that the nectarine is a cross between a peach and a plum, peaches and nectarines are actually the same species. A nectarine is really just a peach whose recessive gene came up trumps in the DNA lottery.

As there are a vast number of peach and nectarine varieties produced in Australia (often with a very short season), it is common practice to group them by the colour of their flesh (i.e. yellow or white) rather than listing the individual variety.

PEACHES:

Yellow flesh:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Most popular varieties in Australia, yellow flesh are usually the first peaches on the market. Tangy and tasty. Availability: September – March

White Flesh:

Image: iheartpeaches.com

Season starts slightly later than yellow flesh varieties, though there is an early variety available in October. With less sub-acid varieties, these tend to be a juicy, sweet alternative. Availability: October- March

NECTARINES:

Yellow Flesh:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

These have always been more common, though recently white flesh have closed the gap. A mix of sweet and light acid flavours.  Availability: November – March

White Flesh:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Hold the acid, these are sweet and fragrant. Availability: November to March

To get the juices flowing, here are some tasty stone fruit recipes from entrée to dessert:

Peach- Burrata Salad:

Peach Chicken, lemon rice pilaf:

Blackberry Nectarine Crisp:

A: Approximately 100,000 tonnes of summer stonefruit is produced between October and April each year, by over 1200 growers. Early season produce comes from sub-tropical QLD (20% of total production), northern WA and NSW. This is then followed by crops from mid to southern NSW, parts of VIC (Swan Hill) and the Riverland of SA. Fruit from the cooler climates is last to market. Renmark, Swan Hill and the Goulburn Valley (Shepparton and Cobram) represent more than 50% of Australia’s summer stonefruit production, while Tasmania produces all the Australian-grown apricots harvested in mid January to February. Source: Summerfruit Australia


KING OF FRUITS

Q: How do I make sure to get a kingly mango?

Each year Sydney eagerly awaits the tell-tale signs that summer is on its way; daylight savings, backpackers, streaky fake tans and last but not least the arrival of the mangoes.

For many Australians the mango is the taste of summer. As a versatile tropical fruit, the mango brings an instant flavour and colour hit to every dish, whether it be a salad, curry or tasty snack such as this Mango, lime and chilli salt recipe from Gourmet Traveller.

Australia produces approximately 45,000 tonnes of mangoes a year with the Sunshine State (QLD) taking the mantle of top producer at 72% of the total market. The potential for growth however has seen regions such as the NT increase their production dramatically, with NT now accounting for 23% of production. Currently 90% of the commercial crop in Australia is Kensington Pride, though new varieties such as Calypso™, R2E2 and Honey Gold™ are increasing in popularity amongst growers and consumers.

Here’s what to expect from your mangoes this season.

Kensington Pride (aka Bowen)
Appearance: Medium sized, oval fruit with orange skin tinged with pink/red and gold flesh
Flavour: Sweet, tangy
Background: The main mango variety in Australia, it was originally grown in Bowen, QLD in the 1960s after being introduced by horse traders dealing with India. The name Kensington was a reference to the name of the farm upon which one of the pioneers of the variety, Harry Lott, grew his fruit.

R2E2
Appearance: Round, large fruit with deep orange skin and a light yellow flesh
Flavour: Mild and sweet.
Background: A seedling derivative of the Kent, the R2E2 was first released for commercial production in 1991 and takes its name from the row and position of the original tree at the DEEDI´s Bowen Research Station. This variety is gaining popularity due to its long shelf life and high flesh to seed ratio

 Calypso™
Appearance: Smooth deep orange skin with firm, fibreless flesh
Flavour: Full sweet flavour- good for salads
Background: A recent addition to the mango varieties in Oz, the Calypso™ is a cross between the Kensington Pride and Sensational varieties. The high flesh to seed ratio and good shelf life make this a cost effective option for chefs

Keitt (aka Condo Mango)
Appearance: Medium to large, thick skin with green base colour and pink to bronze blush
Flavour: Sweet orange flesh with no fibre and a mild lemony taste
Background: Finding its feet in the 80s in Australia, the Keitt is now a top four performer. Keitt received its name from the name of the woman who owned its original plantation .

Honey Gold™
Appearance: When ripe the skin is golden apricot yellow with a natural waxy coating
Flavour: Sweet, aromatic and juicy. Firm, fibreless flesh
Background: The Honey Gold™ was cultivated in Rockhampton, when a Kensington Pride flower was inadvertently cross-pollinated with an unknown mango variety.

Palmer
Appearance: Small to medium sized, elongated fruit with a dark red blush that covers most of the skin
Flavour: Sweet and mild, the flesh is juicy and aromatic- similar to Kensington Pride
Background:  A small player in the Australian Mango industry the Palmer accounts for only 5% of total production, despite being grown commercially in QLD for over a decade.

Pearl™
Appearance: Smaller mango with flecked skin that has an orange to red blush
Flavour: Tangy and fresh
Background: Considered a good mango for the kitchen despite being smaller than other varieties,  due to its high flesh to seed ratio, long shelf life and firm flesh.

Brooks
Appearance: Medium-size oblong with no beak and a pale pink-orange skin with no blush when ripe
Flavour: Sweet, mild flesh
Background: One of the original Florida cultivars, Brooks- also known as Brooks Late, is a mango variety that originated as a seedling of Sandersha in 1901. Brooks is the latest maturing variety in Australia.

Kent
Appearance: Medium to large oval, skin is smooth with a red blush that borders on purple
Flavour: Rich and sweet- great for juicing and drying
Background:  Another descendant of Brooks (crossed with the Haden variety), the Kent mango was introduced to Australia in the 1970s.

FRESH MANGO AVAILABILITY:

Source: Australia Fresh

Bring the flavour of summer to your menu, contact Simon George & Sons for more information.

A: Unlike many other fruits, you can’t tell the quality of a mango by the colour of its skin. Instead select mangoes that are firm and heavy for their size with a distinct, pleasant fragrance. The skin should be bright with no black spots or mushy indentations.  If you want to eat the mango right away, gently squeeze the stem end with your finger and thumb, if it gives slightly, then the fruit is ripe. Unripe mangoes will ripen if stored at room temperature. Once ripe, you can prolong the shelf life of the mango by placing it in the refrigerator, where it will keep for 2-3 days.


BATTLE OF THE SEXES

 Q: What makes a good Zucchini Flower?

 Zucchini Flowers are a delicacy all over the world. In fact in Mexican cooking, the flower is often preferred over the fruit. Many people aren’t aware however, that not only is the zucchini technically a fruit, but the much loved zucchini flower has a sex, with both male and female flowers available in Australia.

 The female flowers are distinguishable as the golden blossom is on the end of the baby zucchini itself. These are perfect for dishes where both the fruit and the flower are to be used. A perfect example is this Gourmet Traveller recipe for Zucchini Flower, mint and pecorino penne. http://gourmettraveller.com.au/zucchini-flower-mint-and-pecorino-penne.htm  

 Male flowers grow on the stem of the zucchini plant and are slightly smaller. They are ideal for dishes where the Zucchini Flower is the hero and the fruit is not required. Not only are they more economical than their female counterparts, but the long stems make preparation and cooking without damaging the delicate bloom much easier.

 A: Choose flowers that are firm at the tip, not wilted, with petals slightly open. If you intend to stuff the flower it is easier to buy the flower more open, however it is crucial to use them promptly as they perish quickly.