Q: Have exotic fruits been impacted by the recent rain?

With stonefruit winding up over the next few weeks and melons suffering with the rain, you can be forgiven for thinking that there is little inspiration when it comes to fruit this Autumn. Luckily, we have some of the world’s most interesting fruits waiting at the markets, ready to bring exotic colours and flavours to your Autumn menu.

CARAMBOLA: Star Fruit, 5 corner, Bilimbing, Yang Tao


Availability: Available all year- peak production April/May, Jul/Oct, Dec/Jan
Shape:  distinctive 5 wings
Skin: waxy green-yellow
Flesh: transparent- yellow to white
Flavour:  crisp, juicy - sweet (yellow) to slightly tart (green). The edges/tips of the wings have the most acid/tannins and are therefore the most astringent
Selection: firm bright fruit with clean, waxy skin
Preparation: can be eaten fresh - slicing achieves the distinctive star shape for platters, salads, desserts and seafood dishes

CUSTARD APPLE: aka Atemoya, Cherimoya


Availability: March - September (peak - May/June)
Shape: heart shaped with nodules
Skin: green - yellow smooth skin
Flesh: creamy white - yellow
Flavour: rich, juicy and sweet
Selection: bruise easily therefore buy when still hard to touch and ripen over 2-3 days. Ripe fruit is light green-yellow with pale yellow skin between the nodules, it should yield to gentle pressure (like an avocado)
Preparation: slice in half and scoop out flesh to enjoy raw or alternatively use in ice-cream, sorbet, desserts, cakes or as a soothing accompaniment to spicy dishes

DRAGON FRUIT: aka Pitaya, Pitahaya


Availability: October - April (Red), All Year (White)
Shape: large oval (150-600g)
Skin: pink - red with fleshy green scales
Flesh: there are two varieties, red or white flesh both with lots of tiny edible black seeds
Flavour: crisp, refreshing, sweet flavour- White has kiwi/melon undertones, Red a hint of raspberry
Selection: look for bright fruit that gives slightly under pressure
Preparation: chill then slice in half and scoop out flesh to enjoy raw or use can be used in marmalades, jellies or drinks



Availability: February to April
Shape: round, slightly flat on top
Skin: reddish purple - black
Flesh: white - creamy pink
Flavour: juicy, with subtle, sweet flavour with a hint of acid
Selection: mangosteens don’t ripen after harvest so buy mature fruit with no significant imperfections of the skin. A healthy green steam indicates freshness, the skin should yield slightly under gentle pressure
Preparation: either place fruit in palm of hand (stem up) and press gently until shell opens or cut carefully round the skin effectively ‘removing the cap’ of the fruit
NB: Yellow mangosteens do sometimes come to the markets. Deep yellow when mature and similar in size to a mandarin, they are frequently sour and should be prepared differently



There are two types of Persimmon, the traditional ‘Astringent’ variety and the ‘Sweet’ variety. Sweet Persimmon introduced in the ‘70s now accounts for approx. 70% of Persimmon production
Availability: late February - June
Preparation: discard stem and enjoy, handle carefully

Astringent Persimmon:
Shape:  large, heart shape
Skin: orange
Flesh: orange
Flavour: when mature they are very sweet however very unpleasant if eaten too early
Selection:  Buy firm, then allow to ripen until the flesh is soft and jelly-like

Sweet Persimmon: aka Fuji Fruit, Fuyu Fruit
Shape:  round with a somewhat flat top
Skin: orange
Flesh: orange
Flavour: mild, sweet flavour
Selection: Should be bought when crisp and crunchy. When fresh, best enjoyed like an apple, otherwise can be used when soft/mature in cooking



Availability: February - May
Shape: round  
Skin: thick red - purple
Flesh: white astringent pulp which houses the edible, jelly like, red seeds of the fruit
Flavour: sweet to slightly tart
Selection: bigger (and heavier) is best, as the seeds will be larger and juicier
Preparation: Either cut into segments and peel open to reveal seeds or cut in two, score each half 4-5 times, hold over a bowl and hit the rind until the seeds fall out, dig out any remaining seeds. Seeds will also separate from the pulp easily in water



Availability: December - May
Shape:  oval to oblong (approx 5cm in diameter)
Skin: thick skin covered in soft, spiky hairs that are green when immature and red/scarlet when ripe
Flesh: translucent - white covering a single seed (some varieties are freestone)
Flavour:  juicy, sweet with a touch of acid
Selection: buy firm, bright fruit with firm spines (not brittle)
Preparation: delicious fresh (like their kin Lychees/Longans) however can also be used for sorbets/jams. Rambutans are also  refresh the palate between dishes

A: Exotic fruits are faring considerably well, though there has been some impact on supply. Of the lines listed above, Mangosteens are currently in shorter supply and up in price, while other lines are showing only minor quality issues.


Q: How long is the rain likely to last?  

Summer is officially gone and with it go the luscious stonefruits, berries and tomatoes that characterise Sydney’s summer menus. So what can we expect from Autumn 2012?

Sydney’s tropical (read: rainy) summer has taken its toll on local produce (especially ground grown crops- herbs, asian vegetables, tomatoes) however consistent supply from interstate has managed to keep the markets relatively stable. Unfortunately, we are now starting to see poor weather impact interstate products and if the rain continues we can expect to see quality and price issues across the board.

On a positive note all this wet weather has brought the elusive Pine Mushrooms to the markets early,  not to mention apple, pears, exotic fruits , cabbage lines and root veg are all looking relatively consistent and are good eating.



New season apples, pears and quince are abundant in Autumn with almost all varieties of apple and pear available over the course of the season.

Supply: Expected to be consistent bar a significant storms or hail in the growing regions

Inspiration: Vogue Entertaining + Travel’s Spiced Quince and Pears with baked custard

Image Source:



Beans are a staple of Autumn, with Borlotti, Butter, French, Green, Roman and Snake making an appearance.

Supply: With the rains in QLD/Nth QLD this week the market for beans has turned dramatically with supply very tight and price jumping significantly. With supply directly influenced by the weather we hope to see supply and price improve as the weather clears.

Inspiration: Teage Ezard’s Barbecued ox tongue with southern gold potatoes, snake beans and sticky mustard dressing recipe

Image source:



Hitting the markets earlier than usual, cabbage lines – chinese wombok, red cabbage, Tuscan cabbage – fill the gap left by the slowing lettuce lines.

Supply: Hardier than other ground grown crops, supply should remain consistent. However excessive rain or flooding may cause splitting and as a result supply issues

Inspiration: Jacques Reymond’s Spatchcock & Buttered Cabbage with verjus

Image Source:



Filling the void of the lush mangoes and berries come the passionfruit, custard apples, breadfruit, persimmon, guava and pomegranates & tamarillos

Supply: Some issues with guava supply at the moment but otherwise looking steady for the season ahead

Inspiration: Kim Woodward’s Butter roasted halibut, lobster salad, coriander pasta and passion fruit sauce

Image Source:



Autumn also sees the return of the fresh nuts- with Australian grown pistachios (NOW), almonds (Feb-Mar), Hazelnuts (Feb-Apr), Peanuts (Feb-June) and Chestnuts (Apr- Jul) on the scene!

Supply: When they hit the markets, they hit in force- though they finish all too quickly

Inspiration: Peter Gilmore’s Caramelised Vanilla Brioche French toast

Image source:



I recently read a quote that said there were four seasons, Spring, Summer, Pumpkin and Winter. With all lines including Butternut on offer in Autumn, who can blame them.

Supply: Sourced locally, pumpkins are traditionally abundant and great eating for the whole season

Inspiration: Rick Stein’s Pumpkin ravioli with sage butter

Image source:



Autumn sees the root veg come into their own with sweet potatoes, horseradish, turnip, parsnip and spud varieties (Royal Blue, Ruby Lou, Pontiac, Desiree, Burbank, Purple Congo) all coming into their own.

Supply: While supply should remain consistent, root veg are susceptible to splitting and rot with too much rain – so lets hope for some clear skies.

Inspiration: Bar H’s Sashimi of striped trumpeter with mushrooms and ginger, horseradish and soy dressing

Image source:


More produce highlights for Autumn: Pine Mushrooms, Celeriac, Fennel, Leeks, Spinach and Silverbeet


A: Unfortunately it may last a while yet. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a wetter autumn than average for NSW and SA and a slightly drier season for VIC and TAS. There is a silver lining however, with the BOM describing their outlook model as having ‘low skill over South East NSW’ at this time of year! So you never know, blue skies could be just around the corner.