Summer Harvest: Fruit

FRESH FACT: The Sydney Festival is a key event on the Sydney summer calendar bringing a constant stream of interstate travellers and diverse cultural events to Sydney for three weeks every January. Last year the festival contributed $56.8 million to the NSW economy and with an estimated 650,000 expected to attend in 2013 and additional events being hosted beyond the city centre, it is an exciting time for foodservice and hospitality businesses.

It may be hard to believe but Spring is on the wind up for another year, meaning the long days (and even longer nights) of summer are just around the corner. With the warmer temperatures encouraging more and more patrons to eat out, Summer is undoubtedly an important season for the food service/hospitality industries. With resources stretched to capacity, we thought we would profile the summer produce lines sure to bring both vibrant colour and fresh flavours to your menu with minimal fuss.  

SUMMER FLAVOURS:

CURRANTS (red /black):

Red currant

My English sensibilities (even after 20 odd years) have yet to come to terms with celebrating Christmas in summer and while pulling together a traditional Christmas turkey on a 40 degree day is akin to torture for many of us, we can at least be grateful that fresh red currants are available as a show stopping decoration or tasty addition to an Aussie Christmas menu.  

Seasonality: difficult to predict availability for this product, traditionally availablefrom mid-late Dec to mid Jan

Flavour: red currants are more sour than their black counterparts, but still boast the distinctively sweet, tart currant flavour that makes them ideal for both sweet and savoury dishes

Inspiration: Roast Pork with crackling and apples in red currant jelly - Steffan Jensen via SBS Food

Click here for full recipe

 

BERRIES:

Image: www.when-is-now.com

While some berry varieties have already started, the best is yet to come with the main berry season (and its vast range of flavours/colours and textures) starting in December.

Seasonality: uncommonly cool weather has slowed the growing process of many fruits, so there is a chance that some berry varieties may appear on the markets late or inconsistently this year.

Early season (Dec onwards): Blackberries, Blueberries (already in good form), Boysenberries, Loganberry, Raspberries (red), Gold raspberries (Dec only), Strawberries (VIC), Youngberries (Dec only)

Inspiration: Elderflower jelly with summer berries and strawberry sorbet - Martin Wishart via Great British Chefs

Click here for full recipe

 

NATIVE FINGERLIMES (fresh):

Image: www.abc.net.au

It’s fantastic to see native produce gaining traction in the industry and with stunning fruits such as fingerlimes, it isn’t hard to see why they are in demand.

Seasonality: weshould see the first of the fresh fingerlimes around  Xmas/early January. Season lasts until May/June, peaking Mar - May

Flavour: same tangy, citrus flavour as common limes however the flesh is made up of small, translucent pearls which lend a unique texture and stunning aesthetic

Inspiration: Finger Lime Tart with Coconut Cream – Justine Schofield via LIfestyleFood

Click here for full recipe

 

FIGS:

Fresh Figs

Figs are a highlight of  the Summer, Autumn season for many of our chefs and with their rich colour, flavour and unique texture we can only lament that the season doesn’t last longer.

For more detailed information on fig varieties, please refer to our previous bulletin ‘Figs: The hidden treasure’- or click here

Seasonality: the main commercial variety – Black Genoa- is available late Dec – May

Flavour: distinctive rich, sweet flavour

Inspiration: Quail with cracked wheat, figs and aged balsamic vinegar – Gourmet Traveller

Click here for full recipe

 

DRAGONFRUIT:

Dragonfruit

When it comes to visual appeal, you really can’t go past the brightly coloured skin, white flesh and little black seeds of a dragonfruit. While subtle in flavour, their refreshing, crisp character makes them ideal for summer.

Seasonality: Oct – Apr (red with white flesh), red fleshed fruit start December/Xmas

Flavour: crisp, refreshing, sweet flavour- the flavour of red dragonfruit is often said to have a hint of raspberry

Inspiration: Dragon Fruit Caipirinha – Quantum Cocktails

Click here for full recipe

 

EXOTIC FRUITS:

These exotic fruits are hard to go past in summer- not only do they boast symbolism and tradition (e.g. Chinese New Year) but also refreshing, unique and wonderfully exotic flavours

 

For more information on these varieties, please refer to our previous bulletin ‘Escape to the Tropics’- or click here

Other items of note for Summer: Stonefruit, Bananas, Mangoes, Pineapples, Salad greens,  Australian Grapes,Tomatoes.


THE APPLE OF LOVE

Q: They’re tasty, but are tomatoes good for you?  

A member of the nightshade family, tomatoes, or apples of love as they were once known, were introduced to the world following the Spanish conquest of Central America in the 1500s. While it is now a staple ingredient in cuisines the world over, the last 500 years has seen this lush fruit compete with the rosebud as a token of love, named as the subject of numerous court battles and decreed as poisonous. Despite its controversial history, 2008 saw 130 million tonnes of tomatoes produced worldwide, with China leading the charge at a staggering 33 million tonnes per annum.

Technically a fruit, the tomato is most commonly used as a vegetable. This is due to the glusamate content of the tomato which gives it a rich flavour that sits somewhere between sweet and savoury, making them perfect for eating both fresh and cooked.

The tomatoes we see today are nothing like the fruit first cultivated in the Americas. Over the years, tomatoes have been specifically bred for the purposes of increased disease resistance and aesthetic appeal. These programs have resulted in higher yields for farmers and the dominance of tomatoes that are uniform of shape and intense of colour i.e. the round, red fruit we see today. Unfortunately, many people believe that these programs have also resulted in loss of flavour and texture.

With this in mind, we have seen a widespread increase in demand for heirloom (heritage) varieties, organic, truss and vine-ripened fruits, as they offer the most authentic tomato experience.

 

Beyond these distinctions, there are many other tomato varieties that are worth including on the plate:

BEEFSTEAK OXHEART (Heirloom):

Image: clearcreekseeds.com

 

Availability:       One of the favourite heirlooms, the oxheart is currently in short supply (as are all heirlooms) but is about to hit peak

Description:       Large, very fragrant heirlooms. Tend to have a stripy skin with background

Flavour:               Juicy with solid meat

Best Use:             Slicing, sandwiches

 

BELLA ROSSA (loose):

Photo: Simon George & Sons

Availability:       Generally available, though supply can fluctuate throughout the year

Description:       Appear similar to baby roma but are more square than egg shaped.

Flavour:               Firm and sweet

Best Use:            Salads, snacking, roasting whole

 

BLACK KUMATO:

Photo: www.moraitis.com.au

 

Availability:       Generally available, though supply can fluctuate throughout the year

Description:       Dark brown/red when ripe

Flavour:               Low in acid which makes them very sweet with a distinctive ‘kumato’ flavour

Best Use:             Colour adds a unique twist to gourmet dishes. Dark brown are good for gourmet dishes, salads, sandwiches. Dark red is good for soups and sauces.

 

BLACK KUMATO- GRAPE:

Photo: www.moraitis.com.au

 

Availability:       Generally available

Description:       Hydroponically grown these are a new variety. Dark chocolate.

Flavour:               Low in acid which makes them very sweet with a distinctive ‘kumato’ flavour

Best Use:             Snacking, salads, pasta sauces

 

BLACK RUSSIAN (Heirloom):

Image: growingveggies.com

 

Availability:       December - March

Description:       Medium sized with dark olive skin and chocolate, red flesh

Flavour:               Sweet

Best Use:             Adding colour to a gourmet dish, salad

 

CHERRY (available loose or truss):

Photo: www.moraitis.com.au

 

Availability:       Generally available, though supply can fluctuate throughout the year

Description:       Small variety, around 2cm in diameter. Mainly sold as yellow or red fruit, though it is possible to get heirloom cherry and grape medley packs

Flavour:               Sweet and crunchy. The yellow fruit tends to have less acid and therefore be sweeter again

Best Use:             Salads, roasting whole, snacking

GOURMET/FIELD/ROUND:

Photo: www.moraitis.com.au

Availability:       Generally available

Description:       These are the standard round, red tomato we know and love

Flavour:               Rich, full flavour

Best Use:             All rounder

 

GRAPE:

Photo: www.marketfresh.com.au

 

Availability:       Generally available, though supply can fluctuate throughout the year

Description:       Small oval (approx 4cm) that comes to a point. Mainly sold as red or yellow fruit (yellow is slightly smaller), though it is possible to get heirloom cherry and grape medley packs

Flavour:               The red and yellow varieties are very sweet due to their high sugar content

Best Use:             Snacking

 

ROMA: (available loose or truss)

Photo: www.moraitis.com.au

 

Availability:       Generally available, though supply can fluctuate throughout the year

Description:       Medium sized, elongated oval fruit that is rich red when ripe

Flavour:               Sweet and juicy

Best Use:             A plum tomato, low water and seed content make them perfect for cooking. Hold shape well under heat.

 

ROMA- BABY

Photo: www.moraitis.com.au

Availability:       Generally available, though supply can fluctuate throughout the year

Description:       Small, generally about half the size of full Romas

Flavour:               Intensely sweet, not as sweet as cherry tomatoes but still tasty

Best Use:             Salads, sandwiches, antipasto, roasting, BBQ

 

TEARDROP/PEAR:

Image: finecooking.com

Availability:       Generally available, though supply can fluctuate throughout the year

Description:       Small fruit shaped like a pear/teardrop, this tomato can be red or yellow

Flavour:               Mild and juicy, yellow teardrops have no acid and are very sweet

Best Use:             Salads, snacking

 

MEDLEY:

Photo: Simon George & Sons

Medley punnets showcase a variety of heirloom cherry and grape tomatoes, that bring a fantastic array of flavours, textures and colours to the plate.

Availability:       Generally available, though supply can fluctuate throughout the year

Best Use:             Salads, snacking

 

A: Tomatoes are a nutritionist's dream. Generally a good source of vitamin C, E, A and fibre, they are set apart by their high lycopene content. One of the most powerful, natural antioxidants, lycopene has been proven to ward off various types of cancer by preventing the growth of cancerous cells. In fact, scientists believe that just one glass of tomato juice a day could have a huge impact on your future health. Interestingly, the lycopene in a tomato is not compromised by the cooking process, in fact the lycopene levels increase making it even more beneficial to the consumer.

 


MAKE FRIENDS WITH SALAD

Q: What makes a salad, a salad? 

Simon George & Sons knows how to make friends with salad. Our new range of ‘fine’ salad mixes from Victorian supplier, Hussey & Co offer chefs a convenient salad base that is tender, colourful and packed full of flavour. The finer leaves make it possible to deliver a salad with the full complement of flavours and a gourmet look, no matter how small the serving.

FINE ASIAN MIX: (Mizuna, Mibuna, Tatsoi)

Tulira Jett Photography

The Asian Mix is a fantastic staple for the kitchen. The Japanese leaves deliver mild mustard, peppery flavours while the Tatsoi adds a creamy texture. Many chefs customize this mix by tossing through various hydroponics.

FINE MESCLUN MIX: (Red and Green lettuce lines, little mustard and curly leaves)

Tulira Jet Photography

At only 5 or 6 cm, the leaves in this mix enable you to offer a full salad experience in one handful. With up to 16 varieties this mix is a flavour hit.

FINE SWISS CHARD:

Tulira Jett Photography

At it’s peak over the next two months, the fine chard mix is delicious, colourful and fresh.

SNOW PEA TENDRILS:

Tulira Jett Photography

These tendrils have a stunningly delicate appearance and a lovely crunchy texture. Boasting a subtle pea flavour, they can be used in either a salad mix or to dress a dish

ARUGULA ROCKET:

Tulira Jett Photography

While many chefs opt for the stronger heat of Wild Rocket, Arugula is fast gaining popularity with those seeking a milder pepper hit, tender leaves and a softer look on the plate

According to history, it’s the dressing. The word ‘salad’ originally derived from the Latin ‘salata’ or salted things, which refers to the practice of eating raw vegetables dressed with salt, oil and/or vinegar.


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.