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.


MANGO MAGIC

Q: What does Paisley pattern have to do with Mangoes?

It’s easy to tell when mangoes are in full swing at the Sydney Markets, not only are the luscious yellow fruits clearly in abundance but their sweet, tropical aroma literally takes over the Flemington site, distracting buyers and visitors with early morning visions of cocktails and beach holidays. While we’re a while off that stage yet, the first of the Kensington Pride mangoes from the Northern Territory have arrived at the markets. They are in good supply, good quality and eating at around an 8/10. To get your juices flowing for the peak mango season and its signature aroma, this week we are sharing inspirational recipes and flavour combinations that capture the essence of this nutritional, delicious and iconic fruit.

Mango varieties: For more information on the individual mango varieties and when to expect them, click here.

The Feel Good Factor: A 200 g mango provides up to 3x the RDI of Vit A and Vit C. They are also a rich source of fibre and potassium and provide more of the anti-oxidant beta-carotene than any other fruit

 

Something Light:

Crunchy Jicama and Mango salad with Chile and Lime

Source: Tyler Florence via Lifestyle Food

NB: With Jicama (yam bean) and mango both in season until December, this crunchy combination of flavours is ideal for a Spring salad. To find out more about Jicama, click here

Click here for full recipe

 

Mango salsa and coconut heart salad

Source: Peter Kuravita via SBS Food

NB: This salad offers a wonderful blend of flavours. While coconut hearts can be a little hard to come by, never fear as granny smith apples are offered as a good replacement

Click here for full recipe

 

Tahitian snapper tartare

Source: Robert Oliver via NZ Herald

Click here for full recipe

 

Something Substantial:

Tali Macchi

Source: Alfred Prasad via Great British Chefs

Click here for full recipe

 

Duck and Mango curry, plus lemon and curry leaf rice

Source: Yotam Ottolenghi via Guardian.co.uk

Click here for full recipe

 

Seared Tuna with Mango Salsa (Ca Tu Chien)

Source: Luke Nguyen via SBS Food

Click here for full recipe

 

Something Sweet:

Caramel mille feuille, mango and gold leaf press and crystalised chilli

Source: Frances Atkins via Great British Chefs

Click here for full recipe

 

Young coconut jelly and burnt mango cream with pandanus macaroons

Source: Martin Boetz via Gourmet Traveller

Click here for full recipe

 

Something Refreshing:

Ceylon Sailor

Source: Wayne Collins via BBC Food

Click here for full recipe

 

Mango, ginger and lemongrass cordial

Source: Gourmet Traveller

Click here for full recipe

 

A: The pattern we all know as Paisley (due to the market dominance of the weavers from Paisley, Scotland during the 1800s) was actually created in India where it was inspired by the shape of the mango- which in India is considered to be a divine food of the Gods symbolising love. In Tamil the paisley pattern is called ‘Mankolam’ (mango design), in Punjabi it is called ‘Ambi’ which derives from ‘Amb’ (mango) and in Pakistan it is called the  ‘Carrey ‘ design with the word ‘Carrey’ meaning mango seed in Urdu.


SPRING’S BOUNTY

Q: Why is Australian white asparagus priced significantly higher than green?

 The end of August is always a period of transition for food lovers, however this year seems especially tough- cold weather along the Eastern Seaboard is slowing supply and hiking up prices on a long list of produce items, ironically just in time for the start of the busy season and there is absolutely nothing on TV that comes close to filling the void left by the Olympics. To put the Spring back in your step and assist with menu planning for the next few months, here are our produce highlights for the coming season. We have included some nutritional information as there’s nothing like feeling good about what you’re eating to make it taste even better on the palate.

SPRING FLAVOURS:

ASPARAGUS:

Image: Freepik

The arrival of the Australian Asparagus season is getting closer with quality spears predicted to arrive at the markets for the first week of September. In particular the arrival of the sweet, tender, home-grown white asparagus is much anticipated due to its premium quality, texture and gourmet aesthetic.       

Supply: Early crops from QLD, main crop from VIC

Green Asparagus: all year, Australian produce best Sept- Dec

Baby Green Asparagus: all year, best Sept- Dec

Purple Asparagus: Oct- Dec

White Asparagus: Sept – Jan

Feel Good Factor: excellent source of Vitamin C & E, dietary fibre, folate and potassium

Inspiration: Confit of Suffolk lamb loin, fresh milk curd, asparagus, spring onions, broad beans, young leeks, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, quinoa, pea flowers, nasturtiums – Peter Gilmore via Lifestyle Food

Click for recipe

AUSTRALIAN GARLIC:

Image: Freepik

Australian Garlic is world’s apart from the imported product available throughout the year and its season is something I have come to get excited about and support every year by paying a premium price for a premium product. For a more comprehensive overview of the garlic varieties currently grown in Australia, their seasonality and characteristics, click here.

Supply: Main growing regions are SA, VIC ,NSW with some early crops from QLD

Australian Garlic Season: October - May

Spring Garlic: available October

Green Garlic: available November

Feel Good Factor: natural antibiotic, also assists in management of blood pressure & cholesterol

Inspiration: Tamworth pork terrine, roast garlic purée, deep fried egg and artichoke Kevin Mangeolles via Great British Chefs

Click for recipe

MANGOES:

Image: www.perfection.com.au

Early Northern Territory mangoes are already arriving at the markets and while they are not yet great eating, it is a sign of the luscious, warm weather and tropical flavours to come. Sydney Markets will be holding its annual mango auction on September 5th  heralding the official opening of the mango season, last year the auction raised $30,000 ($2,500/mango) for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and Westmead Children's Hospital.  For more information on mango varieties and Australian seasons click here

Supply: NT opens the season (peaking around October), before main producer QLD enters the market around November

Feel Good Factor: very high in Vit C and A. Rich source of beta-carotene, fibre and potassium

Inspiration: Mango salsa and coconut heart salad recipe- Peter Kuravita via SBS Food

Click for recipe

SHISO LEAF: aka Perillo

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Shiso Leaf is available in red and green varieties, the red (with its anise and subtle mint flavour) is the most popular in Australia and is used widely in Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine (where traditionally the leaves were used to dye pickled ume or were mixed with ume paste in sushi). While available pretty much all year, Shiso is at its best Nov – Mar

Supply: SG&S predominantly sources our Shiso from local NSW producers  

Feel Good Factor: high in calcium, iron and potassium, rich in fiber, very high in Vit A and C. Believed to have anti-inflammatory properties

Inspiration: Duck yakitori with pumpkin, shiso and daikon salad and plum dipping sauce – via Gourmet Traveller

Click for recipe

PEPINO: aka Sweet Pepino, Melon Pear

Image: www.naturespride.eu

Spring is undeniably the start of the mango and stonefruit season but if you’re looking for something different why not try the pepino. With its distinctive purple stripes, yellow flesh and a juicy flavour reminiscent of melon, banana and pear (depending on who you ask)– it is perfect for spicing up the breakfast menu or adding a twist to sweet and savoury spring salads.

Supply: QLD produces fruit in Spring and Autumn

Feel Good Factor: good source offibre, Vitamin A, B and C

Inspiration: Wild Mexican Shrimp Escabeche with Pepino Melon, Popped Corn, Jicama Salsa - Bernard Guillas via Restaurant Hospitality

Click for recipe

Yam Oka: aka NZ Yam, Oka Yam, Oca

Image: www.vegetables.co.nz

Originally from South America, these sweet tubers offer a wonderful alternative to winter root vegetable lines with their smaller size, tangy, nut flavour and silky texture. Eat with the skin on to get maximum nutritional value, the skin is thin and edible and ensures the yam holds shape when cooked.

Supply: coming from QLD, best in July (season runs for 6-8 weeks)

Feel Good Factor: good source offibre, Vitamin A, B and C

Inspiration: Yam, kumara and pumpkin coconut curry 

Click for recipe

Other items of note for Spring: As the weather warms, the markets will start to come alive with tropical fruits and a wider range of vegetables. Other items to watch out for this Spring include stonefruit (Oct/Nov), berries, chillies, sweetcorn, radishes, edible flowers, watercress and okra.

A: There are two reasons. Firstly, the Australian white asparagus season is brief and given its popularity among food-service professionals (and increasingly with home cooks) demand tends to outstrip supply. The second reason is production costs. To achieve its colour, white asparagus is grown in the dark, preventing sunlight from turning the shoots green. Traditionally this was achieved by keeping the asparagus crown submerged beneath a mound of dirt and using specialised equipment to blind harvest– which led to reduced yields as it was difficult to perform without damaging the crop. Many Australian farmers now employ an innovative system that sees white asparagus grown beneath black polyhouses- essentially a large dark greenhouse, a huge step forward, this farming method achieves wonderful colour, flavour and allows for simpler harvesting practices.


MARKET 5: BRITISH

Q: How big is the catering operation at the Olympics?

The world’s eye is fixed squarely on the London Olympics this week and while the weather has been mixed and the Badminton players suspect,  the quality of the games overall has been exceptional. Beyond the individual sports, British culture is also in the limelight, so to capture the Olympic Spirit this week we are sharing our Market 5 for British cuisine. There is much more to British cuisine than Bangers ‘n Mash and to highlight the versatility of these everyday (and often overlooked)  kitchen staples, I have included some world class recipes from some of Britain’s best Chefs.  

1.      PARSNIP:

Image: www.naturespride.eu

While Don Burke may have controversially called parsnips an “affront to human dignity”, there are many Brits who couldn’t imagine a Sunday roast without them- in fact before the arrival of the potato from the Americas, the parsnip was a staple across Europe. So much so that during the Tudor dynasty, the parsnip was more commonly consumed than bread. Closer to home this cost-effective, nutritious and versatile vegetable is wonderful buying at the markets with quality, flavour and supply at its peak until October. For more information on parsnip selection and availability, please click here.

Host Nation inspiration: Chris Horridge’s Veal sweetbreads, parsnip air and curry oil

Click here to view recipe

 

2. ENGLISH SPINACH:

Image: Freepik

Spinach first appeared in England in the 14th century and was adopted quickly due to its availability in early spring when other vegetables were scarce. Spinach was brought to Australia by the first fleet but as it was difficult to grow here, Silverbeet soon became the crop of choice. Today many still refer to Silverbeet as Spinach in Australia for this reason. At its best until September-October, Spinach is a tasty, healthy addition to the menu, especially while other leaf lines are battling with frosty conditions.

Availability: all year, best Mar-Sept

Appearance: bright green, slightly crinkled, flat leaves on a firm green stem

Flavour: bittersweet- finer in texture and flavour than silverbeet

Best for: suitable for eating raw, blanched, braised

Host Nation inspiration: Adam Gray’s Spinach soup with wild garlic toasts

Click here to view recipe

 

3.      RHUBARB:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Rhubarb is yet another ingredient that isn’t native to Britain, yet it is strongly linked to the national cuisine due to its popular use in desserts and wine making prior to WW2. In the United Kingdom, the first rhubarb of the year is harvested by candlelight in forcing sheds, where all other light is excluded, in order to produce a sweeter, more tender stalk. In Australia. Our rhubarb season peaks during Autumn-Winter, so now is the time to enjoy this tart vegetable at its best. For more information on selection or availability of rhubarb click here.

Host Nation inspiration: Nathan Outlaw’s Rhubarb and crumble trifle

Click here to view recipe

 

 

4.      LEEK:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

The leek brings a Celtic flavour to the celebrations. As one of the National emblems of Wales, this humble vegetable root has a proud history in Britain and is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Brought to Australia on the first fleet, the leek is used widely in Australia with most production coming out of Victoria and an annual production value of over $16 million in 2007/2008. While it is grown commercially in other states across Australia, Victoria’s cooler temperatures allow for a top quality, consistent harvest over a longer period.

 Availability: all year, best May-Sept

Appearance: long thick white stalk with hard green leaves

Flavour: mild sweet, onion flavour

Best for: commonly used insoups (cock-a-leekie), stock, stews and other dishes, they can also be boiled, fried or eaten raw in salads

Host Nation inspiration: Martin Wishart’s Leeks vinaigrette with eggs mimosa

Click here to view recipe

 

5.    PEAS:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

 Growing up in Manchester there was nothing I liked more than mushy peas- popular across Northern Britain (Scotland/Yorkshire etc) this signature dish has become synonymous with stereotypical English fare- in particular meat pies and fish ‘n chips. Realistically peas shouldn’t be featuring in our Market Five as they are very expensive at the moment (due to cold snaps in QLD slowing supply) however we couldn’t help by include this British classic on our list. Prices should ease over the coming month as the weather warms up, in the meantime Sugarsnaps are performing well and are a good substitute.

Availability: generally all year

Appearance: round green seeds in a long green pod

Flavour: sweet, juicy

Best for: mushy peas- other than this they aretasty raw or cooked- often used in soups, risottos, pastas, salads, sides

Host Nation inspiration: Nathan Outlaw’s Ham hock with pea purée and wholemeal bread

Click here to view recipe

 

A: The Olympics (in this instance London 2012) is recognised as being the largest peacetime catering operation in the world and the Brits have stepped up to the plateas the first Olympic organisers to produce a food vision with a focus on sustainability.  Over the course of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Olympic venues are forecast to serve up 14 million meals across 40 locations. The Olympic Village alone is being supplied with 25,000 loaves of bread, 232 tonnes of potatoes, over 82 tonnes of seafood, 31 tonnes of poultry items, over 100 tonnes of meat, 75,000 litres of milk, 19 tonnes of eggs, 21 tonnes of cheese and more than 330 tonnes of fruit and vegetables. Now that’s a mouthful.

 


IN THE FINEST TRADITION

Q: What is the oldest recipe collection in the world?

 It seems that wherever you turn at the moment, Europe is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Whether it's the Euro versus the dollar, the babushkas performance at Eurovision or the early morning Euro 2012 matches - European Culture is well and truly on the agenda in Australia. So without further ado, this week we're featuring traditional dishes from the hot contenders at the Euro 2012’s competition and celebrating the fresh produce that makes them odds on favourites.

GERMANY

Red Cabbage:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Availability: all year, best Mar – May
Appearance: compact head of smooth red-purple leaves with small white veins
Selection: choose heads that are heavy for size, with crisp, bright leaves
Prep: when cooking add lemon or vinegar to water to protect colour, beware of colour bleeding into other ingredients

Traditional dish: ROTKOHL (sweet & sour red cabbage) - often served with winter dishes such as beef in buttermilk

Modern inspiration: Mustard and sage pork cutlets with red wine cabbage and lentils

 

SPAIN:

Tomatoes (Heirloom):

Photo: SG&S

Availability: all year, fluctuates
Appearance: compact head of smooth red-purple leaves with small white veins
Selection: choose heads that are heavy for size, with crisp, bright leaves
Prep: when cooking add lemon or vinegar to water to protect colour, beware of colour bleeding into other ingredients

Traditional dish: GAZPACHOraw vegetable soup served cold

Modern inspiration: Hand-pounded Gazpacho

 

FRANCE:

Aubergine: aka eggplant

Image: freepik

Availability: all year, best Jan - Jul
Appearance: smooth purple fruit- pear shaped with glossy skin
Selection: look for firm, glossy, bright, skin. Should feel heavy for size.
Prep: highly versatile, can be sauteed, baked, roasted, fried, stuffed, stir fried, steamed or grilled

Traditional dish: RATATOUILLEvegetable dish often used as a side

Modern inspiration: Yotam Ottolenghi's Indian ratatouille recipe

 

ENGLAND:

Rhubarb:

Image: www.telegraph.co.uk

Availability: all year, best Jun - Dec
Appearance: look likes red celery
Selection: choose stalks that are crisp, firm, glossy and bright
Prep: once leaves are removed, cook and add to pies, crumbles or even slice finely and add to a salad

Traditional dish: RHUBARB & CUSTARD

Modern inspiration: Rhubarb semifreddo and pistachio cream with a honey madeleine

 

ITALY:

Tuscan Cabbage: aka Black Cabbage or Cavalo Nero

Image: www.bbc.co.uk/food

 

Availability: all year
Appearance: sold in bunches of long dark green leaves. The leaves are heavily bubbled with a thick, white vein from stem to tip
Selection: look for firm, plump stalks and bright, fresh leaves
Prep: traditionally used in soups and pastas or steamed, also a fantastic stir-fry vegetable

Traditional dish: RIBOLITTA: Tuscan Cabbage bread soup

Modern inspiration: Ditalini, borlotti bean and cavolo nero soup

 

RUSSIA:

Beetroot:

Image: www.guardian.co.uk

Availability: all year, best during cooler months
Appearance: bright red – deep purple tuber (often has white streaks)
Selection: choose beets that are crisp, firm, glossy and bright- fresh leaves are a good indicator
Prep: rinse in cold water, cook in boiling water, then remove skin

Traditional dish: BORSCHT

Modern Inspiration: Beetroot Soup with fetta

 

A: While many chefs have heard of ‘De re coquinaria’ (The Art of Cooking by Apicius) there is actually a much older recipe book in the Yale University Collection. The recipes are carved into ancient tablets dating back to approximately 1700BC. Originally believed to be pharmaceutical/medicinal in nature, it was only when successfully deciphered in the mid 80s that they were identified as recipes. Jean Bottero who translated the tablets describes the food as "a cuisine of striking richness, refinement, sophistication and artistry, which is surprising from such an early period. Previously we would not have dared to think a cuisine 4,000 years old was so advanced."

 


KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY

Q: What plant did these vastly different vegetables stem from?

While they may seem an unlikely grouping, the Winter vegetables listed below are all from the same species. They are all classified as cultivars of Brassica Oleracea, one of the world’s most diverse plant species which includes kale, collard greens, broccoli, broccolini, chinese broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi. Due to human cultivation and careful selection over thousands of years, the various cultivars of Brassica Oleracea have grown to be distinctively different in both appearance and flavour. One thing they all share however, is their nutritional value, supplying much needed Vitamin C, A, K, Dietary Fibre and Folate during the cooler winter months.  What is often overlooked when talking about Brassica Oleracea is the wonderful diversity of textures, flavours and colour they can bring to a winter menu.  

BROCCOLI:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Image: www.freepik.com

Availability: all year, best May – Sept
Appearance: tightly formed head of flowers on thick, green stalks. Flowers range from blue-green to purple in colour
Selection: avoid heads with open or yellowed flowers, as these have a bitter taste
Storage: in vented plastic bag in refrigerator
Prep: cook lightly to retain flavour and nutritional value
Claim to Fame: Australia’s 10th largest vegetable crop, broccoli is considered a super-food due to its anti-cancer properties and nutritional value

Click for Inspiration!

 

CAULIFLOWER:

Image: www.freepik.com

Availability: all year, best May – Sept
Appearance: white ‘curd’ (tightly packed florets) on a thick white stem
Selection: avoid brown discolouration of the curd and look for fresh leaves at the base of the curd (if still attached)
Storage: remove thick, outer leaves and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Prep: cut into florets and wash under cool water. It’s subtle creamy, nutty flavour make it perfect roasted, braised or fried in a warm winter salad, as a side-dish, pureed in soups or pickled
Claim to fame: good raw or cooked, cauliflower is packed with dietary fibre, folate and vitamin C

Click for Inspiration!

 

PURPLE CAULIFLOWER:

Image: www.freepik.com

Availability: all year, best May – Sept
Appearance: purple ‘curd’ (tightly packed florets) on a thick white-purple stem
Selection: avoid brown discolouration of the curd and look for fresh leaves at the base of the curd (if still attached)
Storage: remove thick, outer leaves and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Prep: in the same manner as cauliflower
Claim to fame: vibrant purple colour caused by anthocyanins (antioxidant also found in red wine and red cabbage), delivers a sweeter, nuttier flavour than its white counterpart

Click for Inspiration!

 

BROCCOFLOWER:

Image: www.perfection.com.au

Availability:  all year – best April to late August
Appearance:  looks like a cauliflower that has a light green tinted curd
Selection: similarly to cauliflower look for tightly pressed florets with no discolouration
Storage: remove thick, outer leaves and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Prep: in the same way as you would cauliflower – steam, stir-fry, or use in salads, crudités or dips
Claim to fame: a cross between cauliflower & broccoli, broccoflower is milder and sweeter than either parent and is high in Vitamin C

 

BROCCOLINI:

Image: www.perfection.com.au

Availability: all year
Appearance:  long, thin stems topped with small florets of tight green flowers (can also get purple sprouting broccolini)
Selection: look for glossy, bright green stalks and florets
Storage: in sealed plastic bag in refrigerator
Prep: wash, trim stalk and stir-fry, steam or boil
Claim to Fame: An Australian development, broccolini is a cross between broccoli & Japanese kale- it has an intense broccoli flavour yet looks more delicate on the plate

Click for Inspiration!

 

CHINESE BROCCOLI: aka Gai-lan, Kai-lan, Chinese Kale

Image: www.taste.com.au

Availability: all year
Appearance: long white-green stem, large dark green leaves and a small number of tiny florets  
Selection: look for clean, crisp leaves, firm stems
Storage: loosely closed plastic bag in refrigerator
Prep: rinse, then snap florets and leaves from stem. Most often used chopped into stir-fries or as a side-dish. Can be steamed, blanched, braised or stir-fried
Claim to Fame: no wastage, both stem and leaves are eaten. Has a slightly stronger broccoli flavour, which can be slightly bitter

Click for Inspiration!

 

GREEN CABBAGE:

Image: www.freepik.com

Availability: all year, best in Jun –Aug or November
Appearance: compact head of leaves that can be round, conical, loose or tight- with creamy white to green leaves and small white veins
Selection: choose heads that are heavy for size, with crisp, bright leaves
Storage: in bag in refrigerator
Prep: chop with a knife and use quickly to make the most of the flavour and nutrition.
Claim to fame: historically used as both food & medicine. It is very low in kilojoules but high in vitamin C, folate, potassium and dietary fibre

Click for Inspiration!

 

RED CABBAGE:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Availability: all year, best Mar - May
Appearance: compact head of smooth red-purple leaves with small white veins
Selection: choose heads that are heavy for size, with crisp, bright leaves
Storage: in bag in refrigerator
Prep: when cooking add lemon or vinegar to water to protect colour, beware of colour bleeding into other ingredients
Claim to fame: has been used for pickling since the middle ages, however also lovely braised

Click for Inspiration!

 

SAVOY CABBAGE:

Image: www.bbc.co.uk/food

Availability: all year
Appearance: round to elongated cabbage with wrinkly leaves that have serrated margins. Colour can be anywhere between yellow-green to blue-green
Selection: look for bright, fresh leaves and a head that is heavy for its size (though be aware that Savoy being less tightly furled that your standard green will be lighter)
Storage: place in plastic bag and store in fridge
Prep: prepare similarly to green cabbage, remove outer leaves and rinse before shredding into coleslaw, steaming, etc. Leaves can also be used to wrap ingredients
Claim to fame: slightly sweet with a tender crunch, Savoy is perfect for coleslaw. Often used in the place of green cabbage

Click for Inspiration!

 

TUSCAN CABBAGE: aka Cavalo Nero, black cabbage, Tuscan kale

Image: www.foodconnect.com.au

Availability: all year
Appearance: sold in bunches of long dark green leaves. The leaves are heavily bubbled with a thick, white vein from stem to tip
Selection: look for firm, plump stalks and bright, fresh leaves
Storage: store unwashed in a sealed plastic bag in fridge
Prep: traditionally used in soups and pastas or steamed, this is also a fantastic stir-fry vegetable. Tuscan cabbage can survive longer cooking times without turning to mush and is also eaten raw (without the vein)
Claim to fame: used both raw and cooked, Tuscan cabbage has a mild cabbage flavour which can sometimes be a little bitter. Quintessential cabbage for Italian dishes.  SG&S also sells ‘black cabbage’ - a salad mix of baby Tuscan Cabbage leaves that taste similar but are more tender and delicate

Click for Inspiration!

 

WOMBOK: aka Wong bok, Chinese Cabbage, Chinese leaves, Celery Cabbage

Image: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au

Availability: all year, best in May or between Sept - Dec
Appearance: elongated cabbage with large, broad leaves that are pale green with white ribs and veins. The leaves are not as tightly packed as ballhead etc
Selection: look for fresh, crisp leaves with no blemishes
Storage: loosely closed plastic bag in refrigerator
Prep: all purpose cabbage. Absorbs flavours so is fantastic in casseroles, stir-fries, soups or pickled (as with kimchi). Alternatively shred into dumplings, coleslaw, salads or burgers
Claim to fame: While not technically from Brassica Oleracea, this is so widely considered  a cabbage we have included it in this summary. Renowned for its good shelf life, mild, sweet flavour and crunchy texture, its leaves have a slight pepper flavour while the ribs are juicy, mild and sweet.  

Click for Inspiration!

 

BRUSSELS SPROUTS:

Image: www.freepik.com

Availability: Mar - Sept
Appearance: look like tiny, green ballhead cabbages
Selection: look for small, firm, compact heads with fresh, green leaves
Storage: store untrimmed in plastic bag in the fridge
Prep: trim stem, remove tatty outer leaves then cut a shallow cross into the stem , this assists in even cooking. Do not overcook or a sulphur like odour will be released, drain thoroughly. Roasted with pancetta to bring out a lovely sweet, nutty flavour, alternatively boil, deep-fry, stir-fry or steam
Claim to Fame: Far out Brussels Sprout, these mini cabbages are undervalued as bitter old varieties and overcooking have given them a bad reputation. High in Vitamin C and K they are also shown to assist in cancer prevention

Click for Inspiration!

 

A: All Brassica Oleracea cultivars are believed to have been derived from Wild Cabbage which was native to the limestone cliffs of England and France (think the white cliffs of Dover) thousands of years ago. The Romans and Greeks were known to have cultivated cabbage widely in their gardens and according to ‘Classical’ texts by Theophrastus and Pliny, diverse cultivars were already available. Over thousands of years Wild Cabbage has seen every trait manipulated to our culinary needs. With the Cambridge World History of Foods still citing over 400 types of cabbage, we can only imagine how many Brassica Oleracea variants have come and gone.


FIGS: HIDDEN TREASURES

Q: Why do people call figs a ‘false fruit’?

With all this unseasonal rain, top quality strawberries are going to be thin on the ground for Valentine’s Day. So why not replace them with some fresh NSW figs! Local figs are fantastic quality at the moment, and with a long held reputation as both an aphrodisiac and symbol of romance, they will satisfy foodies and romantics alike.

As fresh figs do not ripen after harvest, pick figs that are heavy and plump with no blemishes and good colour for their variety (see below). Avoid any with a sour smell as they will be over ripe.  When they split at the base, they’re ready to serve.

 

BLACK GENOA: Most common commercial variety in NSW

Image: www.flemings.com.au

SHAPE: Med to large , squat and conical

COLOUR: Dark purple skin at maturity, dark red seeds and white flesh

AVAILABILITY : late December to May

PEFORMANCE: Distinctive rich, sweet flavour, stores well. Best for eating fresh or jams

 

WHITE ADRIATIC:

Image: treesofantiquity.com

SHAPE:  Med to large, sphere.

COLOUR: The skin is green tinged with amber when ripe. Flesh is a rich , strawberry colour

AVAILABILITY : March to May

PEFORMANCE: All purpose fig with excellent flavour. Peels easily when ripe

 

BROWN TURKEY:

Image: www.flemings.com.au

SHAPE:  Med to large, pear shape with prominent ribs and large eye

COLOUR: Thin, brown skin which is a lighter copper colour near the stem, flesh is pink-brown

AVAILABILITY : February to May

PEFORMANCE: Excellent flavour with few seeds- suited to eating fresh

 

Image: www.flemings.com.au

PRESTON PROLIFIC: Originated in VIC, thought to be a Black Genoa seedling

SHAPE: Med to large, sphere

COLOUR: Skin changes from green to a purple brown when ripe. Pulp is amber with a tint of red and the flesh is very thick, creamy white and juicy

AVAILABILITY : February to May

PEFORMANCE: Distinctively sweet

 

Still not convinced? Here are some Valentine's Day inspirations with fig at their heart:

Arugula with Brûléed Figs, Ricotta, Prosciutto & Smoked Marzipan – Graham Elliot

Duck Breast with figs, burnt honey and lavender sauce – Gourmet Traveller

Figs for a Thousand and One Nights- Nigella Lawson

Fig leaf ice-cream with crushed berries and meringue- Gourmet Traveller

Baci Di Fichi - delicious magazine

 

A: Figs are all about hidden treasures. What we often refer to as the fruit is actually a synconium (hollow vessel) which holds the delicate flowers and seeds of the plant.  In ‘persistent’ figs varieties (i.e. the ones we eat fresh) the flowers are all female and the seeds empty. Whereas dried figs are produced from varieties where the seeds are pollinated, which is how they achieve their nutty flavour.


CHERRIES ON TOP

Q: What does it mean to ‘cherry pick’ something

This weekend, Young, NSW, the birthplace of the Australian Cherry Industry, is hosting the 62nd National Cherry Festival. First commercially planted in 1878, Young accounts for 60% of the total cherry production in NSW. While NSW and VIC have traditionally been the cherry capitals of Australia, Tassie is hot on their heels as the home of our cherry exports, which is more the pity for us locals as the temperate maritime climate of the island produces lush, large fruit. 

A member of the rose family, the majority of eating cherries are classified as either a sweet (Prunus Avium) or sour cherry (Prunus Cerasus). Sweet cherries are believed to have come from a wild cherry once found in the Caspian– Black Sea region,  these cherries are delicious both fresh and cooked.  Sour varieties can also be eaten fresh but are most often used for cooking, baking and preserving due to their tart flavour.

In recent years, plantations have been established outside traditional growing areas in the hope of prolonging the traditional cherry season which runs from November to February. Similarly to strawberries, a constant supply of cherries is achieved by harvesting different varieties at staggered intervals. To achieve a consistent supply, some states will grow more than 50 different varieties of cherry. It is therefore difficult to compile an exhaustive list, so the table below focuses on the main cherry varieties in NSW, when to look out for them and what to expect.

 

New Australian selections are starting to make their mark but are not yet commercially strong, keep an eye out for Sir Dom, Sir Tom, Dame Roma, Sir Douglas, Dame Nancy and Sir Hans in coming seasons.

So far, the 2011 season has brought mixed fortunes for Australian cherry growers. Cherries are extremely delicate and rains or high winds at harvest time can spell disaster for growers as they can cause the cherries to split or bruise. While the Yarra Valley, Central and North Eastern VIC are projecting one of their most fruitful season’s in decades (if the weather holds), NSW regions are battling high rains that are already causing some of the bigger fruit to split. While still hopeful, local farmers are warning that NSW markets may see a smaller fruit size this year as a result.  

To kick of the season with a bang, here are some inspired cherry recipes to sink your teeth into:

  1. SAVOURY:          Roast Duck with cherries & roast kipfler potatoes
  2. SWEET:                 Watermelon, cherry and rose salad, with shortbread, yoghurt & cherry syrup
  3. PICKLED:             Pickled Cherries (have with duck, pork belly or blue veined cheese)
  4. SLAMMING:       Esta Bebida 2

To find out more about the delicious cherry varieties on offer or to place your order contact Simon George & Sons.

A: Cherries don’t ripen after they’ve been picked, so it has always been important to choose your fruit carefully. To cherry pick is to inspect something very closely, so you come out with only the very best.  With this in mind, how do you cherry pick a cherry?

A cherry’s colour is highly dependent on variety, so a darker skin will not necessarily be the best indicator of maturity. Instead, look for a cherry that is good and plump, with glossy skin and a nice green stem. Avoid soft, dull or bruised fruit or small hard cherries as they will lack flavour and juice.


THE PITS

Q: Where does our Stonefruit come from?

The Australian stone fruit season is underway with early season peaches, nectarines and cherries now available.

Drupes (stone fruits) are fleshy fruits whose seed is encased in a stone at its centre- peaches, nectarines, cherries, plums, apricots (and almonds) all belong to this family. Stone fruit can be broken down into; clingstone, freestone or semi-cling fruits. It is difficult to tell from the appearance of the fruit whether it’s a clinger or a free spirit, so ask your supplier to confirm which they have in stock.

Clingstone:

Image: thenibble.com

Stone clings to the fruit at all stages of maturity and needs to be pried off. Good eating but more time consuming to prepare. Best for: jams, jellies, sauces, purees.

Freestone (Slipstone): 

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Flesh separates easily from the stone allowing for attractive slices to be produced. Freestone are the most popular varieties. Best for: any dish where the appearance of the fruit is important

Semi-cling:

Image: www.facebook.com

A hybrid of clingstone and freestone, the stone separates from the pit when fully ripe. Tend to be smaller than freestone. Best for: everything, good all-rounder

Peaches and nectarines are the first stone fruits to hit the markets in summer, so here’s the low down on the much loved Persian Apple and its shaved fraternal twin.

Despite the rather common belief that the nectarine is a cross between a peach and a plum, peaches and nectarines are actually the same species. A nectarine is really just a peach whose recessive gene came up trumps in the DNA lottery.

As there are a vast number of peach and nectarine varieties produced in Australia (often with a very short season), it is common practice to group them by the colour of their flesh (i.e. yellow or white) rather than listing the individual variety.

PEACHES:

Yellow flesh:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Most popular varieties in Australia, yellow flesh are usually the first peaches on the market. Tangy and tasty. Availability: September – March

White Flesh:

Image: iheartpeaches.com

Season starts slightly later than yellow flesh varieties, though there is an early variety available in October. With less sub-acid varieties, these tend to be a juicy, sweet alternative. Availability: October- March

NECTARINES:

Yellow Flesh:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

These have always been more common, though recently white flesh have closed the gap. A mix of sweet and light acid flavours.  Availability: November – March

White Flesh:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Hold the acid, these are sweet and fragrant. Availability: November to March

To get the juices flowing, here are some tasty stone fruit recipes from entrée to dessert:

Peach- Burrata Salad:

Peach Chicken, lemon rice pilaf:

Blackberry Nectarine Crisp:

A: Approximately 100,000 tonnes of summer stonefruit is produced between October and April each year, by over 1200 growers. Early season produce comes from sub-tropical QLD (20% of total production), northern WA and NSW. This is then followed by crops from mid to southern NSW, parts of VIC (Swan Hill) and the Riverland of SA. Fruit from the cooler climates is last to market. Renmark, Swan Hill and the Goulburn Valley (Shepparton and Cobram) represent more than 50% of Australia’s summer stonefruit production, while Tasmania produces all the Australian-grown apricots harvested in mid January to February. Source: Summerfruit Australia