Q: What is the difference between Paw-Paw and Papaya?

There is a common misnomer that Winter is ‘Apple and Pear’ season due to the shortage of bright, tropical summer fruits. In truth, there are a myriad of tropical and other fruit varieties available at the markets during winter; each offering unique textures, flavours and twist to your menu. So over the coming weeks, while pineapples, melons and figs are predicted to be in short supply and up in price why not try something new. Below we have featured a range of fruits that are both good quality and in good supply at the markets – making them smart buying this Winter.


Image: www.mensfitness.com

While berry season (Nov – Feb) is still some time away, we are seeing some lovely fruit at the markets at the moment. QLD strawberries have suffered a little from recent rain and are experiencing some quality issues, however overall supply and standard is good for strawberries, blueberries and raspberries (red).


CARAMBOLA: StarFruit, 5 corner, Bilimbing, Yang Tao

Image: www.freepik.com

Currently sourced from: QLD

Availability: Available all year- peak production April/May, Jul/Oct, Dec/Jan

Appearance:  distinctive 5 winged fruit with waxy green-yellow skin

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


CUMQUATS: aka kumquats

Image: www.freepik.com

Currently sourced from: QLD

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 liqueur

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


KIWIFRUIT: aka Chinese Gooseberry

Currently sourced from: NZ

Selection: firm, full fruit with no blemishes

Preparation: while many choose to forgo, the entire fruit is edible including the skin

GREEN: Hayward

Availability: Local: Mar-Jul, NZ: Jun-Dec

Appearance: egg shaped fruit with fuzzy, light-brown skin

Flesh: rich green flesh with small edible black seeds

Flavour: tangy, sweet


Availability: Jun – Sept

Appearance: egg shaped fruit with smooth, golden-brown skin

Flesh: gold flesh with less seeds than the green variety

Flavour: sweeter than Haywards



Image: www.marketfresh.com

Currently sourced from: QLD

Availability: all year

Appearance: lighter purple skin than other varieties, with white flecks

Flesh: orange pulp with lots of hard, black seeds(more pulp than black passionfruit)

Flavour: intensely refreshing- tangy (slightly acidic) flavour

Selection: fruit that is heavy for size, smooth and firm

Preparation: eaten fresh from casing or used in desserts


PAPAYA: aka Paw-Paw

Currently sourced from: QLD

Availability: all year with peaks May/June and Sept/Oct

Appearance: looks like an elongated melon with smooth, thin green-yellow skin

Selection: look for fragrant, well shaped fruit, no discolouration or soft spots

Preparation: unlike many fruits it can be cut without discolouration, eaten fresh, in salads or as a accompaniment to seafood or chicken.


Appearance: firm, dark orange-red flesh

Flavour: fragrant, sweet, succulent – similar to rockmelon


Appearance: rounder & larger than red variety, it has yellow skin and soft yellow flesh

Flavour: fragrant, juicy, sweet- milder than red papaya


Appearance: a green unripe fruit from either varieties listed above (commonly red papaya due to their fuller flavour)

Flavour: oil hands and knife prior to cutting (unripe papaya release a latex fluid which can cause allergic reactions) – used as a vegetable in Asian cuisines, suitable for pickles, salads and vegetables in curries


YELLOW DRAGON FRUIT: aka Pitaya Amarillo, S. megalanthus

Image: www.wikipedia.com

Currently sourced from: QLD

Availability: Main fruiting May- Jun – good quality fruit available, will be winding up in next few weeks

Appearance: med–large oval fruit with distinctive yellow skin and pointy scales

Flesh: clear-white with edible black seeds

Flavour: often lauded as the best tasting due to its higher sugar levels- crisp kiwi/melon flavours, delicately sweet and mild

Selection: look for bright fruit that gives slightly under pressure

Preparation: chilled and eaten fresh or used in gelatos, ice-creams, sorbets, cocktails etc

A: Nothing. Paw-Paw and Papaya are actually different varieties of the species Carica papaya- though in Australia we tend to refer to the yellow fruit as ‘paw-paw’ and the red as ‘papaya’. Native to the Americas and first cultivated in Mexico, this tropical fruit is highly nutritious and unfortunately under-used in Australian cuisine due to the popularity of melon varieties.





Q: What gives a pear its unique melting texture?

While the cold weather is having an adverse reaction on many fruit and veg lines, apples and pears are a reliable addition to the menu with quality consistent and stock readily available. With harvesting taking place between Jan-May each year, apple and pear varieties have been relatively unaffected by recent weather and therefore will be both good quality and in steady supply over the coming months.

Having recently discussed apple varieties, the bulletin this week explores the pear varieties currently available in Australia. While often overlooked, pears are still a key player in the horticulture industry and are growing in popularity. In fact, Australian pear production increased by 30% last year taking it to more than 123,000 tonnes. While Victoria still accounts for the majority of Australia’s production at 88%, our local farmers are upping the ante with NSW increasing production by 63% in 2010/2011.  

The secret to enjoying pears is knowing which pear to eat when. A pear eaten too early is an opportunity missed, as it has not yet had a chance to develop its full flavour and the unique, buttery texture. As stated by Edward Bunyard, author of The Anatomy of Dessert, "The pear must be approached, as its feminine nature indicates, with discretion and reverence; it withholds its secrets from the merely hungry." So with a little reverence, here’s our guide to getting the most of winter pears:


Fast Facts:

Selection: Look for fairly firm, fragrant fruit that is unblemished. 

Storage: Store firm, unripe fruit at room temperature until it changes to a ripe yellow and/or gives a little when pressed at the stem. Once ripe, keep in refrigerator and use quickly.

Preparation: Handle gently, pears bruise easily. Once cut, brush surfaces with citrus juice to prevent discolouration prior to serving



Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Available: Mar – Oct, best Apr – May

Appearance: med to largepear with an elongated neck, green-brown skin and a golden-brown russet that darkens as it ripens

Flesh: juicy, white flesh

Flavour: aromatic, sweet, buttery and juicy

Best use: great all-rounder. Suitable for most cooking methods and lovely fresh. Often used for poaching


CORELLA: aka Forelle Pears

Image: www.rediscoverthepear.com.au

Available: April – end August

Appearance: squat with a bright, glossy pink-red blush on green – yellow base

Flesh: tender, soft white to creamy yellow flesh

Flavour: sweet and juicy

Best use: fresh – striking addition to salads

Watch for: sometimes smaller fruit is sold as baby corellas, these retain the unique flavour and are practical for salads and portion control


HONEY: aka Winter Nelis, Quall

Image: www.rediscoverthepear.com.au

Available: Mar - Nov

Appearance: small – medium in size, squat, round pears with green, heavily russetted skin that yellows when ripe

Flesh: creamy white

Flavour: tender, sweet, buttery– very juicy and aromatic

Best use: very versatile- good cooked and fresh


JOSEPHINE: aka Josephine de Malines

Image: www.rediscoverthepear.com.au

Available: Apr –Aug

Appearance: medium sized fruit withlight-green soft skin and slight russet

Flesh: fine grained, creamy yellow-white

Flavour: rich, juicy and very sweet

Best use: excellent fresh eating variety



Image: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au

Available: Mar – Nov (best May – Aug)

Appearance: medium, round fruit with yellow-green slightly rough skin (can be flecked with white or brown depending on variety)

Flesh: creamy white, crisp and juicy flesh (like an apple)

Flavour: subtly sweet with medium sugar and high acid

Best use: its crisp texture makes it an interesting apple substitute for a variety of dishes (salads, cheese platters) or eaten fresh


PACKHAM: aka Packhams Triumph

Image: www.rediscoverthepear.com.au

Available: Mar – Dec (best- May-Jun)

Appearance: med – large green pear (turns golden yellow when ripe) with a short neck (skin can sometimes appear bumpy)

Flesh: white and slightly firm yet juicy

Flavour: juicy and sweet

Best use: great baked in desserts, poached or fresh


RED D’ANJOU: aka Red Angou

Image: www.rediscoverthepear.com.au

Available: Apr - Nov

Appearance: medium sized, deep red fruit with yellow-green mottling

Flesh: fine, white flesh

Flavour: juicy

Best use: salads


A: It is the unique texture of the pear that sets it apart from its popular pome brethren. From harvest to consumption the quality of a pear is reliant on knowing when to act. If allowed to stay on the tree too long, the pear develops a gritty, coarse texture as it ripens. To avoid this, farmers pick their pears when mature (but not ripe) and then hold them in cold storage (a key step in achieving their unique character) before they hit the markets and begin to ripen naturally. As pears ripen from the inside it can be difficult to gauge when to indulge, but it is worth the wait. If you press the point where the stem meets the neck and if it gives evenly without applying proper pressure – then the pear is ready to melt in your mouth.


Q: What does the term ‘Three Sisters’ have to do with beans? 

After a difficult start due to wet weather conditions, the winter bean season will be kicking into gear over the next few weeks. So to help you get the most of out these nutritious, tasty pods we’re spilling the beans (pardon the pun) on what to watch out for this season. 

Beans have played a powerful role in the development of civilisation as we know it, due to their simple cultivation, high protein/amino-acid content and ability to rejuvenate the soil in which they grow. Beans are loaded with vitamins, minerals and protein which is highly valuable to those who have limited meat in their diet or choose to forego it altogether. 

Fresh beans varieties can be divided into two categories: edible pods and edible seeds. The beans eaten ‘pod and all’ are picked immature and crisp, while shell beans (those we eat for their seeds) are picked when the pods are swollen (but still not fully mature) so the seeds are meaty but tender. If the beans are allowed to fully mature, the resulting seeds are classified as ‘dried’ beans, which require different preparation methods to their fresh counterparts. 

Beyond these distinctions, when buying edible pod varieties such as green beans (or baby green beans), it is important to differentiate between hand and machine picked pods. Machine-picked beans are more cost-effective, however the manner in which they are harvested can cause damage or bruising that blackens when cooked. Therefore if the appearance of the beans is important for the dish, opt for hand-picked, they may be a little more expensive but they are much less likely to display these kinds of flaws. The tough string which gave these beans their ‘string bean’ mantle has now been all but made redundant due to selective breeding of non-string varieties, however some flatter varieties do still need to have the string removed.

Getting the most out of fresh beans can be difficult, with some bean varieties having multiple names, or even worse the same name being applied to completely different beans. Here’s our guide to the beans we’re buying this Autumn/Winter season.  


Image: Simon George & Sons

GREEN BEANS: aka French beans, snap beans, string beans, common beans, haricot vert

What: most common fresh bean in Australia, these are crisp and juicy with barely noticeable seeds 

Availability: all year, best May – Jul and Sept-Oct

Appearance: can be flat or round but all have approximately finger length crisp pods. Most commonly green with small light green seeds inside, however they are also available in pale yellow or purple varieties

Selection: choose beans that are firm, crisp with no soft spots or obvious damage  -avoid those with obvious seed bumps, as this means they are over-mature

Storage: store in a plastic bag in refrigerator, unwashed

Prep: trim stem end, cook uncovered in lots of water to stop the colour darkening 

Best for: stir-fry, blanch and serve as a side-dish or in a salad



What: small, very immature green beans, slightly more expensive but offer a wonderful crisp, sweet bean flavour

Availability: all year, best May – Jul and Sept-Oct

Appearance: can be flat or round but all have approximately finger length crisp pods. 

Selection: choose beans that are firm, crisp with no soft spots or obvious damage

Storage: store in a plastic bag in refrigerator, unwashed

Prep: trim stem end, cook uncovered in lots of water to stop the colour darkening

Best for: interchangeable with green beans, just more delicate in appearance


SNAKE BEANS: aka yard long bean, Chinese long bean

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

What: long, thin green bean very popular in Asian, Middle Eastern cuisines – eaten fresh or cooked

Availability: all year, best Dec-May

Appearance: very long, thin olive-green pod that bends and constricts as it matures

Selection: firm, slender beans with minimal external damage i.e. bruising or yellowing

Storage: best fresh so buy as required, store in plastic bag in refrigerator

Prep: trim stem- end, snake beans are stringless so chop and cook as desired

Best for: Asian and Iraqi cuisine- best stir-fried or braised, otherwise use much like a green bean once chopped (soups, curries, salads)


ROMAN BEANS: aka Continental bean, Italian Flat 

Image: Simon George & Sons

What: a large flat bean that is used while immature and crisp

Availability: all year

Appearance: long, flat pale green pod that is slightly curved. 

Selection: bright, firm beans with no signs of bruising or discolouration – should snap when broken

Storage: store in a plastic bag in refrigerator, unwashed

Prep: trim stem end, cook uncovered in lots of water to stop the colour darkening

Best for: used interchangeably with green beans however the flat pod and larger seeds offers a very different texture


BUTTER BEANS: aka yellow wax pole beans

Image: Simon George & Sons

What: the yellow green bean

Availability: Dec - Jun

Appearance: yellow pod with slight ridging on the sides, houses small white-pale yellow seeds

Selection: look for crisp, firm pods that are bright in colour 

Storage: store in a plastic bag in refrigerator, unwashed

Prep: trim stem end, cook uncovered in lots of water to stop the colour darkening

Best for: adding colour and crisp, juicy texture to a dish



BROAD BEANS: aka Lima Beans (dried), Fava Beans (mature)

Image: Simon George & Sons

What: thick bean – grown mainly for the delicious seed, however can be eaten fresh when immature

Availability: Jun – Dec – there are some early season broad beans on the market now but in short supply

Appearance: leathery, round pod with a distinctly pointed tip – changes from green to black-brown as it matures. Seed is large and flat contained within a cotton-like lining

Selection: look for moist, firm beans. Smaller pods mean the beans inside will be smaller but also more delicate of flavour

Storage: store in a plastic bag in refrigerator, unwashed

Pod vs Seed: seed – though when immature and crisp (under 12cm) they are sometimes prepared like a green bean

Prep: double shell for best possible flavour: shell seed, then blanch, drain, rinse and peel off the tough outer skin

Best for: used widely in all manner of ways; in pastas, casseroles, soups, side-dishes, roasting, purees, dips,  salads, 


BORLOTTI BEANS: aka cranberry beans

Image: Simon George & Sons

What: variety of kidney bean with a delicious creamy texture and slightly sweet, nutty flavour

Availability: all year, best Mar - May

Appearance: beige pod with purple marbling. Seed is speckled in the same colours as the pod, however they turn light brown when cooked

Selection: fresh, crisp pods that are full and brightly coloured- avoid any with signs of wilting or dampness

Storage: buy as required and store in a plastic bag in refrigerator, unwashed. To prolong life, shell, blanch, drain and freeze in airtight container/bag

Prep: shell and cook gently to prevent its skin from splitting

Best for: Italian and Portuguese cuisines- soups, stews, casseroles and salads


A: Broad beans are the only beans native to Europe, all other bean varieties were introduced following the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus. It was observed that the indigenous people grew corn (maize), beans and squash together in a system later known as the ‘Three Sisters’. This was sustainable farming at its best!! The corn provided shelter for the squash and a trellis for the bean vines, the beans returned nitrogen to the soil crucial for the growth of the corn and the thick vines and coarse leaves of the squash  deterred predators from trampling or eating the crop. Simply brilliant.  


Q: How do you prolong the shelf life of potatoes? 

They may be getting a bad rap from peppy, anti-carb personal trainers the world over at the moment, but the humble ‘taiter’ is still one of the most versatile and cost-effective foods on the market. Yet another successful member of the Nightshade family, potatoes are the world’s largest vegetable crop and fourth largest food crop, with over 330 million tonnes produced worldwide in 2009. While consumption varies per region and the latest fad diet, the average global citizen consumes 33kg of the starchy tuber every year.

There are thousands of potato varieties, hundreds of which are edible, with more being developed all the time. Commercial varieties are categorised and bought in a number of ways; whether they are washed or brushed, size, texture and/or specific variety.

Washed potatoes are efficient, no washing on site means  less man hours and a shiny skin on arrival. The washed potatoes sold by Simon George & Sons are mostly Coliban which is a tasty, all rounder which is available in a variety of sizes. Varieties can vary under the ‘washed’ banner and all potatoes can be pre-washed or peeled on request. Meanwhile, the ever faithful Sebago represents for the ‘dirty brushed’ and ‘chipped’ category. Keeping the dirt on the skin helps protect the potato from moisture and light, which prolongs shelf life and balances the effort involved in washing at a later date.

Size matters when it comes to potatoes. Cocktails and Chat potatoes are bought purely on size, not variety. When you buy these sizes, you can expect washed, all-rounders that have white skin and flesh. The main size classifications you will see for spuds include:

  • Large
  • Medium (Table)
  • Small (Chat)- over 70grams but smaller than medium (table)
  • Cocktail Chat - under 70grams, usually 2-3cm in diameter

The texture of the spud is determined by the amount of starch in the potato and therefore directly influences its preparation. Textures range from waxy to floury, with all-rounders falling somewhere in-between:

  • Waxy- less starch (16-18%) and higher moisture, therefore best for salads, stews, soups or anything where you want the potato to hold shape
  • All Rounder: Are neither definitively waxy or floury and therefore tend to be good for most types of cooking.
  • Floury/Starchy:  higher starch (20-22%) and less moisture. Release starch when boiled or fried, therefore best for baking in skins and mashing as they fluff up beautifully. If you want to whip up freedom fries or a salad with floury varieties, they will need to be soaked first.

As there are so many different types of potatoes available, we have broken them down into something more palatable:

Needless to say we haven’t included every potato in the list above. Other spud favourites that deserve a mention are:

  • Waxy:                      Patrone, Bintje, Ruby Lou
  • All Rounder:      Golden Delight, Red Rascal, Spunta, Toolangi Delight
  • Floury:                   Russet Burbank, Kennebec

To discuss these and other tasty potato varieties, contact Simon George & Sons on (02) 9519 1411.

A: Potatoes are a demanding lot when it comes to storage. To maximise shelf life and ensure they don’t darken when cooking, they should be stored in a cool (not cold), dry, dark environment with good airflow and no onions! (When onions and potatoes are stored together, they release gases that can cause rot.) Check stock regularly and remove any that are soft, shrivelled or sprouting, like bad apples they will taint the lot.

Also, watch for ‘greening’. To maximise the tubers chance of producing more potato plants, they contain low levels of toxic chemicals (glycoalkaloids) which deter predators from eating the tuber when unearthed. If a potato is exposed to light or damaged, it triggers this protective measure and the production of glycoalkaloids increases. At their most potent in the sprouts, these chemicals can cause anything from food poisoning to death.  Green spots on the skin (greening) are a good indicator of light exposure and are therefore a warning sign of toxicity. While all green potatoes won’t kill you, it’s best to toss them.