Q: Stephanie Alexander says she can’t a few days without cooking one, but what is a mad apple?

October is the time of year when we start to get quietly excited about the ‘different’ produce lines showing up at that markets. Beyond the New Season Australian white asparagus (just in and exceptional quality), Halloween Pumpkins (ready for carving) and the new season NSW/VIC peaches gracing the quote this week, we wanted to showcase the fresh flavours of some lesser known, quiet achievers of Spring produce. There is a short seasonal window for most of these lines, so why not spring into action and make the most of their unique flavour, texture and aesthetic.

CHAMPAGNE MELON: aka Orange watermelon

Buyer Update: season predicted to last 8 weeks- supply good, quality good & price very reasonable

Availability: sporadic, usually late Spring to early Summer

Appearance:  light green skin with darker stripes and golden flesh

Flavour:  mild and sweet, less sweet than regular watermelon

Selection: look for symmetry and a heaviness compared to size

Preparation: same as regular watermelon – fresh or great in cocktails, juices, sorbets, even salads

Nutrition: pure hydration being 90% water, orange watermelons are high in Vitamin A and beta-carotene


BELL APPLES: aka water apple, water cherry, rose apple

Buyer Update: quality andsupply are both good, price reasonable- season is fairly short lasting for around 3-4 more weeks

Availability: Sept – end Nov

Appearance: bell shaped fruit with white-red waxy skin. The flesh iscrunchy, juicy and varies in colour

Flavour: Flesh is crisp, sweet, watery and mild in taste – reminiscent of watermelon

Selection: look for a light sheen and firm fruit

Preparation: fruit is often served cored and uncut for aesthetic purposes. Frequently used in salads but can be lightly sautéed

Nutrition: high water content so refreshing and hydrating.


SOYA BEANS: aka Soybean

Buyer Update: available but not in big quantities so there will be weeks when not available, expecting full supply this December- quality good & prices reasonable

Availability: very short – late Spring/Summer

Appearance: smallgreen furry pod with 2-3 small green beans inside

Flavour: delicious, fresh bean flavour- some people say they taste part bean, part pea

Selection: look for relatively crisp beans free that are from blemishes

Preparation: must be cooked with ‘wet’ heat to be edible to humans- as Edamame with oil, chilli and salt or perhaps a soy hummus?

Nutrition: a complete source of protein these are considered meat for vegetarians. Very good source of fibre, calcium and magnesium



Buyer Update: - local (NSW) fruit in full swing with supply plentiful- grown in a glasshouse it looks great, quality is very good & prices reasonable

Availability: Spring – Summer (approx. Sept- Feb)

Appearance: small- med sized fruit is slightly elongated, whereas the bigger fruit is a fuller eggplant shape. Firm, white flesh free of seeds

Flavour: eggplant without the bitter seeds, mild and tender with a consistent texture

Selection: look for firm fruit, heavy for its size with dark and shiny skin and a fresh green stalk

Preparation: seedless eggplant is not as bitter therefore shouldn’t require degorging, they also have a longer shelf life

Nutrition: good source of dietary fibre, with some Vitamin C and potassium



Buyer Update: currentlyin season- supply, quality & prices all good and steady

Availability: fairly short season- end August – end October

Appearance: there are multiple varieties (white, red and black) but the best eating is the black mulberry which looks similar to a blackberry but is larger, more oval in shape and usually comes attached to the stem

Flavour: aromatic fruit that melts in your mouth- sweet with slight acid taste

Selection: look for intensely coloured, plump  fruit- deteriorate quickly

Preparation: beautiful fresh, in jams, cocktails, sorbets, desserts – just beware of staining

Nutrition: rich source of anti-oxidants, good source of magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, iron, calcium, vitamin C and fibre



We have added Australian Grown garlic braids and bunches to our Spring product range this year. While a little more expensive, the flavour and quality is excellent.

Buyer Update: in season- not in excessive supply, quality good

A: Believe it or not 'mad apple' was once a common name for the eggplant in Europe. The nightshade family were feared when first introduced to Europe in the 1500s with both the tomato and the eggplant considered suspicious and in some measure toxic. Louis XIV (French King in the 1600s) was the first in France to plant eggplant in his garden, a bold move considering the plant was believed to cause epilepsy and described by one author as a "fruit(s) as large as pears, but with bad qualities." The modern Greek and the Italian names for eggplant allude to this controversial past, both deriving from the Latin mala insana- meaning apple of madness or mad apple.



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.