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.  


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




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




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



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




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



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.


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.