Q: What is the difference between 'summer' and 'winter' squash?

In the time that I have been producing these bulletins for Simon George & Sons I have covered a broad range of topics, though I don’t think I have tackled anything as daunting as the important produce group I am profiling this week- the Cucurbitaceae. Made up of around 960 species, the Cucurbit family produces a fabulously diverse range of fruits (many thought to be vegetables) which have the rare privilege of being considered both everyday items and gourmet favourites in Australia. The Cucurbitaceae family includes Melons (Winter and Summer), Squash, Pumpkins, Cucumbers and Zucchini. Our bulletin this week provides a snapshot of how these products are performing in the markets this Spring, plus links and information on Cucurbit varieties worth a second look as the weather heats up.


ROCKMELON aka Cantaloupe

Image: freepik

Rockmelons are available all year but are at their sweet, musky best during Summer (roughly Nov- Mar). 

Buyer’s Update: sweet, good quality fruit is well supplied making it one of our best buys this week – (QLD/NT)


Honeydews are available all year round, enjoying a natural peak in Summer (Dec-Jan). The yellow honeydew is a hybrid variety with smooth flesh that is sweet and luscious 

Buyer’s Update: sweet, good quality fruit is well supplied making white Honeydew one of our best buys this week – (QLD/NT). Yellow Honeydew is currently available and pricing well



The Casaba looks like a wrinkled, pointy yellow honeydew and boasts a mild, sweet flavour distinct from the musky tones of a rockmelon

Buyer’s Update: not yet available- Casaba is at its best Dec/Feb


Available all year, cucumbers peak in production Dec-May just in time for summer salads. It is the seeds that give a good cucumber its essence, medium sized fruit tend to be best 

Buyer’s Update: QLD telegraphs are abundant and good quality making them a BB this week, meanwhile green cucumbers and Lebanese cucumbers are in good supply, good quality and reasonably priced

HORNED MELON aka Kiwano, African Horned Cucumber, Prickly Cucumber 

Image: wikipedia

The immature green fruit tends to be referred to as a prickly cucumber and used as vegetable, whereas the mature fruit (distinctive yellow-orange skin) is called a horned melon and used as a fruit

Buyer’s Update: not currently available, in Australia it is grown in QLD with fruit usually available Dec – Mar 

Appearance: prickly skin that turns a bright yellow-orange on maturity

Flesh: similar to a cucumber with it has small white seeds enclosed in a green jelly like flesh throughout

Flavour: sweet and tart, these are amazing served chilled

Selection: a general rule is- the brighter the orange colour, the sweeter the flesh




Image: freepik

Buyer’s Update: one of our best buys this week after a period of high pricing- seedless and long both performing well  (QLD)





From the Moschata species of the Cucurbita genus, the butternut is very popular in Australia due to its versatility and nutty flavour. For further information on butternut squash please visit our previous bulletin – Pumpkin Patch by clicking HERE.

Buyer’s Update:: Butternut is the best buying of the ‘pumpkins’ or rather Cucurbita genus at the moment, 



For further information on Pumpkin varieties, their seasonality and usage please visit our previous bulletin – Pumpkin Patch by clicking HERE.

Buyer’s Update: The Jap is limited & expensive at the moment however it is better buying than Jarrahdale which is currently very high in price

YELLOW SQUASH aka button, scallopini, pattypan squash 


Button squash remind me of baked dinners, which in turn inspires thoughts of Yorkshire puds but with their sweet, succulent flesh and bright colour button squash are capable of so much more. Available year round with peak fruit arriving Jul-Nov

Buyer’s Update: in consistent supply at the moment, yellow squash is performing well in terms of quality and pricing fair 

ZUCCHINI aka Courgette (green/baby/yellow)

Brought to Australia by Italian migrants in the 50s, today zucchinis are available all year and typically best value Jun-Nov

Buyer’s Update: moderate supply of green, yellow limited


Image: SG&S

Male flowers are not only more economical but the long stems make preparation and cooking much easier if the fruit isn’t required. For more information on zucchini flowers please visit our previous bulletin – Battle of the Sexes by clicking HERE

Buyer’s Update: good supply just in time for spring/summer sides -  both female (with fruit) and male (no fruit) are currently available




Long, Hairy and Winter melons are (despite appearances) all the same species.  For further information on Asian Melon varieties and their usage please visit our previous bulletin – Asian Melons by clicking HERE.

Buyer’s Update: 

Hairy melon- in season supply & price good

Long Melon- season just started, the small amount of fruit available however is reasonably priced 

Winter Melon- season hasjust started and only limited fruit available however prices fair. Supply peaks late spring/summer 



BITTER MELON aka Fu Qua, Balsam Pear, Bitter Gourd, Bitter Cucumber


Buyer’s Update: bitter melons are in season with quality and pricing currently good




Luffas are perfect for dishes where the sauce will be soaked up into the fruit. They absorb the flavours literally ‘like’ sponges. For further information on Luffas and their usage please visit our previous bulletin – Asian Melons by clicking HERE

Buyer’s Update: – both sponge (smooth) and ridged luffas are currently available but not in large quantities, with prices sitting a little high


A: The terms 'summer' and 'winter' when discussing squash are as straightforward as they seem, being a direct reference to the seasonality of different varieties.  While advances in farming have made this seasonal distinction more or less redundant, it does provide an insight into the characteristics of the fruit. 'Summer squash' are picked immature while the skin is still edible (button squash, zucchinis, crookneck squash etc) whereas winter squash are harvested mature a thick, hard rind and fully matured seeds. 'Winter squash' originally picked up the moniker as their characteristic hard, thick rind meant they could be stored for longer periods and enjoyed in the depths of winter, unlike their summer counterparts.


Q: Could you fuel a V8 from your kitchen?

After the slow and steady pace of Winter, Spring is a time of supercharged activity for the horticultural and food service sectors. The V8 supercars may set the pace at Eastern Creek but they fall well short of the speed at which the markets turnover between September and January. To help you keep track of the changes ahead, below is a concise calendar of key produce lines that hit full throttle during Spring and others that fall off the pace in terms of quality, supply and price. To see the markets in action this Spring, contact us to organise your guided tour of the Sydney Produce and Growers markets with SG&S  Director, Damian George.


The below produce lines hit their natural peak in Spring and will therefore offer great buying and quality over the coming months



While we are fortunate enough to have a relatively unbroken supply of produce throughout the year in Australia, that being said, you can expect the following items to increase in price, become limited in availability or finish altogether during Spring as their natural season ends.

Buddha Hands- while supply has been inconsistent this year, the traditional season ends in October

Celeriac- while still available, peak season ends September

Gold Kiwifruit – start to drop our in September/October

Limes – while supply is still steady, prices will start to rise considerably over the coming weeks

Mandarins- start to phase out in October

Oranges- Blood Oranges drop off in September while Seville Oranges drop off in October, though Navels will be available until November

Root Vegetables-peak season for most winter root vegetables ends in September

Tangellos- start to wind up November

Taro Root- drops off for a few months in Oct/Nov


A: Well maybe not, but in 2009 a British team did design a Formula 3 race car powered entirely by vegetable oil and waste chocolate. In fact vegetables played a key role in the car’s overall design- the turbocharged engine ran on biodiesel and lubricants derived from plant oil, the wing endplates were made of potato starch covered with flax fibre and the steering wheel was made of curran (carrot fibres said to be equally as strong as carbon fibre). Even closer to home, Australia’s V8s are also vege powered (to a degree) with the racing competition being exclusively powered by E85 – an 85% ethanol-based fuel- since 2009.


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.



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


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



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


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


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


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.


Q: What is a bouquet garni?

While the cold and wet weather has impacted on some fruit and vegetables lines (read: beans, rocket, zucchini flowers), we are pleased to say that our locally-grown ‘bunch’ herbs are holding up well this winter. Not only are they high quality, but in good supply and therefore fantastic buying at the moment. Simon George & Sons has an extensive range of ‘bunch’ herbs available and while Thai Basil and Garlic Chives are currently in short supply, the varieties listed below should continue to be among our best buys over the coming weeks. So why not take advantage of the favourable conditions and stock up on some of nature’s most vibrant, mouth-watering flavour enhancers.

Selection & Storage: When selecting herbs the general rule is to look for bright, fresh leaves, free of bruising or yellowing that boast healthy, firm stems. To maximise the shelf life of most bunch herbs place them in a glass of water, cover the top of the glass with plastic, seal and place in the fridge- change the water daily.




Availability: all year, best Dec - Apr

Appearance: bright green, oval leaves

Flavour: slightly sweet, grassy cloves

Storage: place stems in water, cover with plastic and refrigerate. Change water daily and use within a week

Preparation: delicate herb, once sliced it browns very quickly. Quite versatile, basil can be used fresh to accent a dish or can be used as the base of a sauce or to accent flavours such as tomato



Availability: all year

Appearance: bright green, pointed, smooth leaves

Flavour: earthy aroma, almost bitter edge

Selection: leaves should be bright green with a glossy top and boast a strong aroma

Storage: store in airtight container in fridge or freeze in an airtight bag

Preparation: slow cooking specialist, removed before consumption


CHERVIL: aka French parsley


Availability: Apr - Dec

Appearance: looks similar to parsley or a carrot top

Flavour: aniseed, parsley

Preparation: flavour is lost when dried or cooked, so use fresh in salads or as a garnish


CORIANDER:  aka cilantro

Image: freepik

Availability: all year

Appearance: broad bright green, feathered leaf

Flavour: pungent, distinct aroma

Preparation: use in Thai or Asian cooking especially curries, stir-fries, salads. Add stems of leaves as base of sauce, then delicate leaves prior to serving to get maximum flavour and as a striking garnish.


DILL: aka dill weed


Availability: all year

Appearance: fine, feathered, blue-green leaves

Flavour: light, aromatic grassy flavour

Selection: leaves should be nicely feathered and stems firm and healthy

Preparation: add just before serving to fish, egg, potato dishes or as a garnish




Availability: Spring - Autumn

Appearance: green stems and distinctive small, purple flowers

Flavour: delicate, floral flavour, with citrus overtones

Preparation: flowers and leaves can be used. Most often used in baking (ground into sugar), desserts, meaty stews, salads or as a garnish (even as a garnish in a glass of champers)


LEMON BALM:  aka balm mint, sweet balm


Availability: short season, spring-summer

Appearance: heart shaped, veined leaves covered with coarse hairs

Flavour: fresh lemon aroma and flavour

Preparation: Fantastic with fish. Add late in the cooking process or use fresh in salads or as a garnish. Combines well with Chervil




Availability: all year- peak in warm weather

Appearance: long grass –like stalks

Flavour: pungent, distinctive lemon hit

Preparation: peel tough outer layers of stem and trim base. If using as an infusion, bruise the stem to release oils before adding. Or finely chop into stir-fries, curries etc


MARJORAM: aka sweet marjoram


Availability: all year

Appearance: woody stems, small, oval leaves (that fall on opposite sides of the stem) and white flowers

Flavour: delicate and aromatic- sweeter and milder than oregano

Preparation: fantastic with roast meat dishes, in stuffing (vege, chicken or meat) and as a garnish on salads, egg and potato dishes




Availability: all year

Appearance: wrinkled leaves,

Flavour: refreshing, unique aroma and flavour

Preparation: savoury and sweet


VIETNAMESE MINT: aka hot mint

Availability: all year

Appearance: long, pointed leaves with a purple tint at base (distinct band across leaf)

Flavour: spicy, citrusy, pepper flavour – common in South East Asian, Vietnamese cuisine

Preparation: rinse gently and use raw in salads, summer rolls, shredded into laksa or stews



Availability: all year

Appearance: light green, wrinkled leaves

Flavour: sweet, refreshing mint flavour

Preparation: most commonly used mint variety for cooking – fantastic in savoury meat dishes, salads, desserts (chocolate) or cocktails


OREGANO: aka wild marjoram


Availability: all year

Appearance: tiny leaves and pink/purple edible flowers on a woody stem

Flavour: slightly sharp, warm, pungent flavour

Preparation: quite hardy, add early in the cooking process as slow cooking enhances flavour  




CONTINENTAL PARSLEY aka Italian parsley

Availability: all year

Appearance: flat, cut leaves

Flavour: refreshing aroma, mild flavour

Preparation: best variety for cooking as its bright flavour holds up well and will enhance the accompanying flavours in the dish


CURLY PARSLEY aka English Parsley

Availability: all year

Appearance: dark green leaves that curl up at the edges

Flavour: coarser flavour than continental parsley

Preparation: edible stems and leaves, refreshing and visually appealing garnish




Availability: all year

Appearance: long, sharp leaves

Flavour: warm, pepper

Preparation: a hardy plant, rosemary is often used as a base to roasting meat dishes such as lamb and poultry- firm woody stem also serves as a fantastic skewer that subtly flavours the meat as it marinades and cooks


SAGE: aka kitchen sage

Image: freepik

Availability: all year

Appearance: green, leathery leaves that are covered in fine hairs. They can be long and slim or slightly broader

Flavour: musky, pepper flavour

Preparation: good cooking herb especially with fatty or oily foods. Also good in soups, mash potato, marinades or baking


TARRAGON: a very delicate herb, tarragon tends to wilt after harvest. This does not impact the flavour


Availability: all year

Appearance: long, slim leaves on a woody stem with a stunning edible, yellow flower that appears in winter as its natural season ends

Flavour: spicy, aniseed with a slightly sweet, tart aftertaste

Preparation: a classic French herb, tarragon is a well known ingredient in béarnaise sauce and compound butters – popular herb for flavouring fish and chicken dishes



Availability: all year – easily affected by weather therefore supply can fluctuate throughout the year

Appearance: long, slim, glossy green leaves

Flavour: stronger than regular tarragon but still boasts the same slightly tart, aniseed punch

Preparation: use more sparingly due to its powerful flavour


THYME: best with strong flavoured dishes as it can overpower a dish very easily



Availability: all year

Appearance: woody stem with tiny, grey-green rounded leaves

Flavour: strong, pungent aroma – spicy, pepper flavour

Preparation: fantastic for slow cooking as holds flavour well


LEMON THYME: aka citrus thyme

Availability: all year

Appearance: small, heart shaped leaves (green/yellow) on a woody stem

Flavour: strong lemon aroma and mild flavour

Preparation: sweet and savoury




Availability: all year

Appearance: small, rounded pale green leaves on light green stems

Flavour: zesty, slightly bitter

Preparation: use torn into soups, salads, sandwiches or as a garnish


A: A bouquet garni is a bundle of aromatic herbs tied together with string and dropped into soups, stews, stocks and casseroles to add flavour. The bouquet garni allows chefs to capture the flavour of the herbs, while also having the freedom to remove them at any stage of the cooking process. While there is no set recipe, the  Bouquet Garni is traditionally known to feature parsley, thyme, bay leaves and possible marjoram- however celery, leeks, carrots and a variety of other herbs are often added into the mix. In fact, the Larousse Gastronomique notes that in ancient times the bouquet garni contained cloves and was wrapped up using a thin slice of lard.


Q: How did pumpkins become associated with Halloween?

While they may have started out as cattle-fodder, nowadays the pumpkin features widely in kitchens due to their versatility, shelf-life and cost-efficiency. To meet year-round demand pumpkins are grown in every state of Australia, however nigh on three quarters of the pumpkins consumed domestically are produced in NSW or QLD. In 2010 the Food Service industry accounted for around 17% of fresh pumpkin sales, that equates to a healthy 16,743 tonnes.

The fruit (or culinary vegetable) that Australian’s refer to as ‘pumpkins’ are actually a mix of pumpkins and winter squash from three different species of the Cucurbita genus: Cucurbita Maxima (Jarrahdale, Queensland Blue, Golden Nugget), Cucurbita Moschata (Butternut Pumpkin, Jap) and  Cucurbita Pepo (Sweet Dumpling, Orange Minikin)

Selection: It is the skin of the pumpkin that protects the wonderful orange flesh from deterioration, so avoid any that are scarred, bruised or cracked. Look for a bright, plump pumpkin that is heavy for its size and boasts a thick, hard rind.





Availability: all year

Appearance: big, heavy, ribbed, deep blue-grey skin and orange flesh

Characteristics: drier that other varieties, full flavoured

Best for: scones, boiling or baking



Availability: all year

Appearance: large round variety with light blue/grey skin and a lovely deep yellow-orange flesh

Characteristics: cuts easily, sweet, firm flesh

Best for: baking – very moist therefore doesn’t lend well to boiling



Availability: all year

Appearance: small, round pumpkin with orange - red, lightly ribbed skin and bright orange flesh

Characteristics: up to 1.5kg/15cm diameter, easily cut – appearance is its main selling point though it has sweet, creamy flesh

Best for: soup or stuffed as a single serve vessel – high seed ratio if you need roasted pumpkin seeds



BUTTERNUT PUMPKIN: aka Butternut Squash


Availability: available all year but at best in April, Jul-Aug, Dec-Jan

Appearance: elongated pear shape with smooth, golden-brown skin and orange flesh

Characteristics: dense, dry flesh with a lovely smooth texture and nutty flavour – flavour improves with storage – no need to peel

Best for: everything- especially roasting. Butternut is one of the most popular varieties due to its versatility

 JAP: aka Ken Special, Kent, Delica


Availability: all year

Appearance: small mottled green/grey pumpkin (1-3kg), yellow to orange flesh

Characteristics: softer and drier than most, cuts easily and boasts a mild, sweet flavour

Best for: stuff, bake, steam, mash





Availability: all year

Appearance: small pumpkin with white and green stripes and creamy, firm flesh

Characteristics: mildly sweet, honey nut flavour

Best for: perfect for roasting and stuffing

 ORANGE MINIKIN: aka baby pumpkin


Availability: all year

Appearance: small, squat pumpkin, with ribbed, orange skin and yellow-light orange flesh

Characteristics: high seed content, ideal for hollowing and using as a single serve vessel

Best for: baking whole and stuffing with a savoury meat or rice filling – soups or roast the seeds

A: Samhain (All Hallows Eve) was believed to be the day that the souls of the departed (good and bad) were free to roam amongst us. It was Celtish tradition on this day to carve ‘Jack-o-Lanterns’ to both welcome the souls of loved ones and ward off unwelcome spirits. Traditionally Jack-o-lanterns were carved from beets, turnips or potato, however when almost ¾ million people fled to America during the Irish potato famine they brought the tradition but not the beets or gourds to carve. Therefore the pumpkin (native to central and south America) became a larger, easily accessible substitute.  




Q: What is the difference between a baby leek and a pencil leek? 

Often in winter, we find pleasure in the oversized;  big coats, big coffees, big portions. But bigger isn’t always better, in fact this week we are paying homage to a range of fresh veggies that are desirable because they are small

Baby vegetable lines have been on the increase in popularity for a number of years. Not only are they more delicate in appearance, but they also tend to have a milder (or sweeter) flavour than their large scale brethren. Versatile and delicious, they are a fantastic addition to the menu as they are both practical and inspirational. So downsize with pleasure and enjoy our range of baby veges this winter: 



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Availability: best May – Nov

Appearance: small purple beetroot with long green and purple leaves similar in texture to spinach

Preparation: use leafy stalks like spinach/silverbeet or purple tuber as per regular beetroot

Flavour: sweeter, more delicate flavour than regular beetroot

Big deal: beyond its more delicate appearance, baby beets are more tender and have a finer texture than regular beetroot



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Availability: best May – Nov

Appearance: yellow coloured baby beetroot

Preparation: use leafy stalks like spinach/silverbeet or purple tuber as per regular beetroot- steam or roast to get the most out of their flavour and texture

Flavour: creamy beetroot flavour, though they are earthier and not as sweet red varieties

Big deal: offers a wonderful contrast of colour, more tender and has a finer texture than regular beetroot 


BELLA ROSSA CAPSICUM: aka baby red capsicum 

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Availability: all year

Appearance: small, round, red capsicum- approx 1/3rd of the size of regular capsicum

Preparation: roast, bake, stir-fry, casseroles, salads 

Flavour: sweet, crunchy

Big deal: thinner skin than regular caps and perfect for single serve use



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Availability: all year

Appearance: elongated thin caps (approx 6cm)- red, orange or yellow

Preparation: minimal prep needed, use raw in salads or use in casseroles, stews, stir-fries

Flavour: crunchy, sweet and juicy

Big deal: ripened on the vine, full of moist, sweet flavour. Vibrant colour and holds shape well when cooked


DUTCH CARROTS: aka baby carrots

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Availability: best Mar - Aug

Appearance: small purple, white, yellow or orange carrots, still attached to the green leaves & sold in bunches

Preparation: perfect for baking, roasting, raw – even for pickling/brining

Flavour: sweet (purple are even sweeter)

Big deal: very tender, dutch carrots are perfect for serving whole as a side dish



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Availability: Mar - Aug

Appearance: small, orange round ball-shaped carrots with leaves still attached

Preparation: perfect for all types of cooking and roasting

Flavour: sweet, crisp

Big deal: look fantastic on the plate and are fantastic for cooking 


CONTINENTAL EGGPLANT: aka baby eggplant, oriental eggplant

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Availability: all year- best Jan - Jul

Appearance: thin, long eggplants varying in colour from light green to purple

Preparation: stew, fry, bake or grill 

Flavour: moist and succulent, not as acidic as full size eggplant

Big deal: cooks quickly, has a much thinner skin than regular eggplant 



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Availability: Mar – Sept 

Appearance: small fennel bulbs

Preparation: both leaves and base are edible. Fantastic in Mediterranean dishes, they are compatible with sweet and salty flavours. Think salads, soups, casseroles, fish dishes

Flavour: slightly richer aniseed flavour than regular fennel. Leaves are stronger, base is sweeter and less pungent

Big deal: beautiful flavour coupled with a more delicate appearance on the plate




Availability: Mar - Oct

Appearance: pencil thin, small leeks (different to baby leek which are thicker)

Preparation: often used as a steamed side-dish or chopped into a salad in place of salads onions 

Flavour: milder leek flavour

Big deal: more delicate appearance and flavour than large leeks and therefore perfect as a side-dish or salad ingredient



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Availability: May - Oct

Appearance: small white or purple top turnips (approx 5cm) 

Preparation: great for salads, roasting, in casseroles, stews etc – or slice into stir-fry

Flavour: can be eaten raw as not as strong as regular turnip- sweet and peppery

Big deal: milder flavour, not as bitter as full grown counterpart 


A: It really does come down to a matter of millimeters. Pencil leeks are literally ‘pencil thin’ (approx 7-8mm in diameter), while baby leeks are a touch broader (average 11-15mm in diameter). While it may seem inconsequential, both pencil leeks and baby leeks boast a sweet, subtle onion flavour, this kind of distinction can make all the difference in achieving the desired aesthetic and balance of flavours on the plate. 


Q: What is the French Paradox and what does it have to do with grapes? 

In the spirit of the NSW Wine Festival taking place in Hyde Park this weekend, our bulletin this week is dedicated to the world’s fifth largest fruit crop- grapes. While an estimated 71% of grapes are destined to become wine, an impressive 27%, equivalent to around 18 million tonnes, are consumed fresh each year (FAO, 2007).

Home grown grapes are available in Australia from November to May. There are hundreds of varieties available, so many stores categorise them based on their colour and whether they have a seed. However, the different varieties do have slightly different flavours, shapes and textures, so to help you choose the right grape to go with your cheese platter and glass of vino, here’s the lowdown on Aussie grapes.

Selection & Storage: 

As a general rule, for a good grape look to the stem. If it is green, firm and well attached then the fruit should be sweet and juicy.

In red and black grapes look for a light white coat on the fruit. This coating is 100% natural and protects the fruit from damage- the less coating, the more handling and longer storage time the grape will have seen. (It is also present on green varieties, but hard to see)

If you see green grapes with an amber hue, snap them up. This indicated they were ripened on the vine for longer and as with tomatoes, the longer the fruit sits on the vine, the better the flavour.


Table grapes have been selectively bred to cater to consumer preferences for sweet, seedless varieties- below are our top 4 in terms of production.

MENINDEE SEASON: early season 


Available: Dec - Feb

Colour: light green – yellow

Size/Shape: small to medium oval

Texture: firm flesh

Flavour: sweet, very slightly tart

Seeds: No



Available: Jan - May

Colour: pale golden green

Size/Shape: medium oblong

Texture: delicate skin, firm flesh

Flavour: sweet, juicy

Seeds: no




Available: Feb - May

Colour: light red

Size/Shape: medium oval

Texture: thick skin, crisp flesh

Flavour: neutral, juicy

Seeds: no




Available: Dec - May

Colour: pink-red

Size/Shape: very large, round

Texture: crisp, fleshy

Flavour: very sweet

Seeds: yes


Other varieties worth a mention include: 



Available: Jan - Apr

Colour: blue- black

Size/Shape: medium round

Texture: firm skin, soft juicy flesh

Flavour: excellent sweet, musky flavour

Seeds: yes




Available: Jan - May

Colour: red – purple

Size/Shape: large, round

Texture: soft skin, juicy flesh

Flavour: distinctively sweet

Seeds: yes




Available: Nov - Mar

Colour: dark red

Size/Shape: medium, round

Texture: crisp, crunchy

Flavour: slightly tart

Seeds: no


RIBIERS: very popular dark grape variety


Available: Feb - May

Colour: black

Size/Shape: large, round

Texture: crisp skin, tender and juicy pulp

Flavour: sweet, tart

Seeds: yes




Available: Apr-May and Nov-Dec

Colour: golden green

Size/Shape: large, oblong

Texture: firm, juicy

Flavour: sweet

Seeds: yes


A: The French Paradox refers to the inconsistency between the high level of saturated fat in the French diet  and their low rate of heart disease. It is believed that the French penchant for drinking red wine, helps protects them from the dangers of eating saturated fat. 

Studies show that in moderation, red wine reduces blood pressure and other risk factors of heart disease. In particular, the antioxidants contained in grape skin (only used in red wine production) are proven to reduce constriction and blockage of the blood vessels. 


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


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




SHAPE:  Med to large, sphere.

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


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




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



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.


Q: Are seasonal guides redundant now that many produce lines are available year round?

Despite all evidence to the contrary, February is the last month of Summer and soon the hot, sunny days (we were supposed to have) will begin to give way to cooler Autumn months. Inevitably, the changing of the seasons brings new fashion and food trends, which for chef’s means a revamp of the menu.

So, to help ease the burden of menu planning we thought we would literally give you four seasons in one day and attach our new SG&S seasonal charts to this week’s bulletin. These charts serve as a quick reference guide to the fruit & veges you can expect to see in the markets each month.

These charts are also hosted on the Season’s Best section of our blog, however for those who want something more permanent to keep in their kitchen, contact SG&S and we will issue you with a laminated poster version which covers the full year.

Seasonal supply does vary, with individual lines arriving at the market early, late or in fits and starts due to unexpected weather conditions. So, keep an eye on our weekly buyer’s guide. Posted on our blog each Tuesday, these guides outline the week’s best buys, new season stock and any notable gaps in supply. To receive these updates directly, click on the follow button on the blog homepage and enter your email address.


Happy planning!


A: In short, no! We may not live by the Cordoba Calendar anymore (Google that when your bored!) but knowing your seasonal produce is the best way to serve up a cost-effective and reliable menu- rain, hail or shine.  Not only will the fruit and veg you use be abundant and therefore cheaper, it  will also be more nutritional and taste better, having been harvested at its peak and spared from travelling long distances.


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.



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): 


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



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.


Yellow flesh:


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

White Flesh:


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


Yellow Flesh:


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:


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