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: Why are some pineapples sold topless?

As far as fresh produce goes, I have always considered pineapples to be relatively straightforward (despite the ongoing debate as to whether they belong on a pizza- or burger for that matter). The pineapple industry in Australia is very QLD centric with top quality fruit being produced from Brisbane to Cooktown, though small amounts produced in Northern NSW and the NT deserve a mention. For many years, Australians buying pineapples lived by the general rule that smooth varieties are larger and juicier, whereas rough leaf fruit are smaller and sweeter. Over the last 15-20 years however this has changed, with cross-breeding of the existing smooth, rough and Hawaiian varieties producing a number of hybrid fruits that offer consumers the best of both worlds. With most pineapple varieties currently performing well at the markets, our bulletin this week is dedicated to the tropics favourite  prickly character.

Before we break it down by variety, here are some insights which are true for all pineapples:

Selection: No matter which variety you buy it is important to note that pineapples may get juicier after harvesting but they don’t sweeter so choose plump fruit that has no bruising/blemishes and boasts a fresh, sweet (but not too sweet) pineapple fragrance.

Nutritional Benefits: pineapples are a fantastic source of Vitamin C with 100gm of some of the hybrid fruits delivering the entire recommended daily intake.  They are also a great source of dietary fibre and a good source of Manganese


STANDARD PINEAPPLE: aka Smooth Cayenne




Availability: All year round, peaks in summer/warmer temperatures

Appearance: smooth with top

Flesh: pale yellow flesh

Flavour: juicy, slightly acidic, not as sweet as rough skin or the new hybrid varieties

Big deal: historically this has bee the canning pineapple – however still fantastic fresh.


BETHONGA: aka Bethonga Gold Hybrid/Topless Gold


Availability: all year, best Sept-May

Appearance: smooth, topless, slightly smaller than smooth cayenne

Flesh: richgold colour, less fibrous

Flavour: low acidity makes them more aromatic and sweeter in flavour than smooth cayenne

Big deal: less likely to cause the mouth blisters commonly associated with pineapples



Image: SGS

Availability: Aug - Mar

Appearance: small pineapple with leaves, still attached to the stem

Flavour: N/A

Best use: display purposes

Big deal: These miniature fruits are beautiful and add a quirky twist to a display/centerpiece.




Availability: all year, peaks Dec/Jan

Appearance: rough skin with top on, small fruit

Flesh: gold/yellow flesh that is drier and more fibrous than Smooth Cayenne

Flavour: delicate, mild pineapple flavour that makes it lovely fresh

Big deal: more of a niche product, it keeps well and has a lovely crisp texture




Availability: all year, best Nov-Mar

Appearance: smooth yellow skin, small fruit, topless

Flesh: flesh is yellow, firm and crunchy

Flavour: very sweet, strong pineapple aroma with a hint of coconut

Big deal: this variety was born & bred in Australia, therefore it tends to delivers top quality fruit year round- it also has twice the Vit C of the Smooth Cayenne




Availability: all year

Appearance: green/yellow smooth skin, topless

Flesh: much darker yellow/gold than smooth cayenne

Flavour: very sweet, low acid

Big deal: hybrid of rough skin and Hawaiian Gold, consistently good performer year round


A: This is a trend with the newer hybrid varieties on the market which are often trademarked by commercial partners. The tops of pineapples are removed and replanted, which considering each plant produces 1 pineapple every 2 years is a crucial part of ensuring the increased productivity and commercial availability of these new varieties. The cynics among us might also conclude that it is an effective strategy for trademark companies to protect their brand, as consumers and/or competitors are unable to use cuttings from purchased fruit to produce their own stock.