Q: What do SG&S buyers look for in their produce?


The off-peak season has hit Sydney and with the half-way point of the year fast approaching, now is an ideal time to reflect on the year that has been and kick-start your plans for the year to come. In our first bulletin of 2012, I talked about working ‘smarter not harder’ by monitoring the markets and staying a step ahead of fluctuations in both supply and price. Many of you have done just that and participated in one of our guided tours of the Sydney Markets, but for those of you yet to take part or for those seeking further inspiration, we invite you to put yourself in the driver’s seat and join us for an early morning, hands-on exploration of Sydney’s seasonal produce.

These tours enable chefs, procurement managers and other interested parties to experience first-hand how the range, quality and supply of different produce lines fluctuate throughout the year and how this then influences our buyer’s purchasing decisions. We encourage all our clients to take part in a market tour at least once a year, as they not only assist in menu planning, but also help SG&S to stay abreast of the changing needs of your kitchen and ultimately improve the service we provide. To whet the appetite, below are some insights into produce items/classifications that have recently raised interest at our market tours. 


Information on potatoes and best use by variety has to be one of our most ‘Frequently Asked Questions’. With over 66 varieties of tatties commercially grown in Australia, talking directly to the grower/agent, cutting them open and seeing their consistency (floury/waxy etc) can help answer these questions and aid in  selection.


Image: Provided

Availability: Winter crop

Appearance: naturally coloured with the same antioxidants as red grapes, the purple jester has a dark purple skin and bright purple flesh

Characteristics: full potato flavour and aroma

Best for: impact and quality in salads, small baked potato sides etc. Very versatile the purple jester can be baked, roasted, boiled, steamed





Availability: Mar - Nov

Appearance: light green- yellow thick skin and pale yellow flesh

Characteristics: sweet, mild grapefruit flavour

Best for: fresh consumption



Availability: Jun - Nov

Appearance: light green- yellow thick skin and pink flesh

Characteristics: sharper flavour than white variety

Best for: use like a pomegranate in salads or similar dishes



Similarly to potatoes there is an abundance of wonderful tomatoes at the markets. With the susceptibility of tomatoes to weather damage however it is helpful to handle and taste different varieties that could substitute for traditional romas or cherries in the kitchen.



Availability: all year

Appearance: small round tomatoes with distinctively striped skin and flesh that varies from a deep green to red-brown

Characteristics: sweet, aromatic flavour

Best for: substitute for cherry tomatoes for high impact colour and a sweet tomato flavour


GOLF BALL: (refers to size rather than variety)

Image: SG&S

Availability: all year

Appearance: round, red tomato approximately the size of a golf ball  

Characteristics: consistent in size, shape, flesh, seeds like a small gourmet tomato

Best for: great as a substitute for Romas and for portion control i.e. breakfast or salad tomato. Also good for roasting whole




As explored in our recent ‘Full of Beans’ bulletin, green beans are sold under classifications of machine picked, hand-picked and baby. Being on site at the markets, inspecting the quality of the beans and sampling their flavour, really is the best way to truly understand these distinctions and which is most suitable to your needs (and budget).


A: Each season the markets see new lines hitting the stands in response to agricultural development and changing culinary tastes, it also sees changing climate conditions and therefore hits and misses from our farmers and their harvests. Every foodservice business is different and as a result each client has individual needs and preferences relating to size, colour, and the maturity of their produce. To meet these needs and stay ahead of the changing market landscape, the buying team at Simon George & Sons works closely with over 400 growers/sellers, filtering through the 2.5 million tonnes of fresh fruit and veges sold at the Sydney Markets each year to source the highest quality produce for our clients at the best possible price.


Q: Other then fighting scurvy what are citrus fruits good for?

The citrus industry is one of the most important horticultural industries in Australia producing approximately 600,000 tonnes of fruit each year. In fact the citrus fruit industry is our largest fresh fruit exporter, generating over $200 million annually for our economy. If you’re a little closer to home and looking to add vibrant colour and flavour to your winter menu- you’re in luck- as our citrus farmers have a wonderful array of fruits that will get the juices flowing. Beyond the delicious and much-loved Navel Oranges and Mandarins, the winter chill also brings out the bitter-sweet goodness in blood oranges, pomelos, grapefruit, lemons, tangelos or for those adventurous few – Buddha hands.  


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Main Growing Areas: Murray Valley, Riverina and Riverland

Availability: Apr – Nov, best May - Sept

Appearance: round, seedless fruit with a thick orange rind and belly-button formation at the blossom end  

Flesh: orange, segmented flesh with distinct section at the blossom end - full of flavour

Flavour: juicy, sweet- excellent eating

Selection: look for bright, plump fruit that is heavy for size

Inspiration: Orange and salt cod saladVogue Entertaining + Travel

Click for Recipe!



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Availability: Jun - Aug

Appearance: medium sized fruit with orange skin and red blush

Flesh: orange- red flesh (contains anthocyanins- which produce the rich colour)

Flavour: sweet, juicy and less acidic that regular oranges

Selection: look for bright, plump fruit that is heavy for size

Inspiration: Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Confit Panna Cotta – LA Mag

Click for recipe!




Main Growing Areas: QLD (65% of total Aussie production), Griffith, Sunraysia

Availability: Apr – Aug

Selection: look for plump, bright fruit, heavy for size

Main varieties: Imperial, Murcott, Ellendale, Hickson & Taylor-Lee

Imperial: Apr - Jun

Appearance: yellow-orange slightly bumpy skin, medium size (easy peel & low seed)

Flavour: very sweet, balanced flavour and lovely perfume

Murcot (Honey Murcott): July to late Aug/Sept

Appearance: medium-large fruit with smooth, orange, thin skin

Flavour: sweet and juicy- good eating

Ellendale: Jun - Jul

Appearance: rich orange, medium-large, smooth skin

Flavour: very tangy- (high sugar and acid levels)

Hickson: late May – late Jul

Appearance: medium-large with a slight neck, wrinkled, orange skin with a reddish tinge (easy peel)

Flavour: sweet and very juicy – good eating

Taylor-Lee: Jun – Jul/Aug

Appearance: medium-large with a slight neck, tight orange skin with a reddish tinge (easy peel)

Flavour: rich, sweet – top quality eating

Inspiration: Spanner crab kinilaw recipe – Peter Kuruvita via SBSFood

Click for Recipe!




Availability: all year, at best Mar – Oct

Appearance: oval, light green to yellow fruit (some have distinct point)

Flesh: pale yellow

Flavour: acidic, tangy fruit

Varieties: Lisbon (most common variety) is smooth skinned and tangy, while the Eureka variety has bumpy skin, an obvious neck and is tart in flavour

Selection: look for plump, bright fruit, heavy for size

Inspiration: Lemon parfait, fennel pollen ice cream, fennel granita, and olive oil jelly - Adam Simmonds via Great British Chefs

Click for Recipe



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Availability: Jul- Nov

Appearance: large fruit with thin, orange skin and a distinct neck (easy peel and segment)

Flesh: very juicy, segmented flesh that is virtually seedless

Flavour: a cross between a grapefruit and a mandarin the tangelo is tangy and very juicy (still sweet but slightly more tart than a mandarin)

Selection: look for bright, undamaged skin, plump fruit that is heavy for size

Inspiration: Grilled tangelos with pistachio brittle – Sydney Morning Herald

Click for Recipe!


POMELO: aka pummelo

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Availability: White variety:  Mar – Nov, Pink variety: Jun - Nov

Appearance: large fruit with a very thick skin that is light green-yellow (thick skin means a good shelf life)

Flesh: segmented like a mandarin, flesh is juicy and varies in colour from yellow to pink

Flavour: sweet and tangy- lacks the bitterness of grapefruit and is great for juicing, salads, desserts or even preserving

Selection: look for bright, undamaged skin, plump fruit that is heavy for size

InspirationPomelo, banana blossom and roast pork salad – Geoff Lindsay via Gourmet Traveller

Click for Recipe!



Availability: available all year, at best Apr – Nov

Selection: look for plump, bright fruit, heavy for size

Image Source: www.agriculturalproductsindia com

Marsh Seedless:

Appearance: yellow skin

Flesh: pale yellow flesh, no seeds

Flavour: mildly tangy and sweet- great for marinades

Pink Marsh: aka Thompson

Appearance: yellow skin

Flesh: light pink flesh with no seeds

Flavour: sweet when ripe

Ruby: aka Red Blush, Ruby Red

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Appearance: smooth skin with a strong red blush

Flesh: juicy, dark orange–red segmented flesh

Flavour: sweeter than yellow brethren- wonderful fresh, juiced or in salads

InspirationSwordfish carpaccio with pink grapefruit and pink peppercorns – Gourmet Traveller

Click for Recipe!


BUDDHA HANDS: aka Fingered Citron

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Availability: Jun - Oct

Appearance: has a thick yellow skin (rind) and finger like tendrils coming from the stem end

Flesh: none to speak of

Flavour: fragrant, lemon- skin is bitter but pith underneath is quite sweet

Selection: look for bright, undamaged fruit with a good aroma

Inspiration: Grilled coral trout with pickled Buddha’s hands – Gourmet Traveller

Click for Recipe


MARUMI CUMQUATS: aka Kumquat, Kinkan

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Availability: autumn/winter

Appearance: small orange fruits with a thin peel that are round-oval in shape

Flesh: segmented yellow-orange flesh

Flavour: intense, sweet-sour flavour,- most often candied, glazed or preserved though can be eaten fresh or even in liquer

Selection: start to deteriorate once picked so look for robust, bright fruit with no obvious damage on skin

Inspiration: Grilled chicken with late-picked wine and cumquats – Stephanie Alexander via Sydney Morning Herald

Click for Recipe!


A: While you’d be hard pressed to develop scurvy these days, strokes are our second single greatest killer and on the rise due to an aging population. Which is why a recent study by Norwich Medical School (UK) finding women who consumed higher levels of citrus fruit (especially grapefruit and oranges) had a 19% less chance of suffering a ischemic (blood-clot related) stroke is so exciting. It is believed the high levels of vitamin C/flavonoids (antioxidant) present in citrus fruits and juices, help prevent stroke by improving blood vessel function and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent on the body.