Summer What’s In Season
Published : January 29, 2018
Best and fresh, check out what's tasty now.
A daily dose of these crunchy little beauties will not only keep the doctor away, it will have you glowing from the inside out. Apples are packed with antioxidants that not only help protect you from disease but also promote strong bones, shiny hair and clear skin. They are also very versatile and can be enjoyed raw or cooked any number of ways—try them stewed for breakfast, in a salad with toasted walnuts and blue cheese, made into chutneys or sauces and served with pork dishes, or baked on their own or in pies and crumbles (Australia’s very own variety, the Granny Smith, is especially good for this).
This gorgeous little stone fruit ranges in colour from pale yellow to deep orange, often with a pink or red blush, and is packed full of beta-carotene, fibre and Vitamins C and A. Originally from China, apricots make a lovely complement to meats such as lamb, pork, chicken and duck—they often pop up in many Asian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, such as curries, tagines, rice pilaf and stews. They are great both raw and grilled in salad with goat’s cheese, make delicious desserts, and preserve beautifully as jams, chutneys and relishes.
Originally from the eastern Mediterranean and Asia, asparagus is highly prized the world over for its tender, succulent spears and unique flavour. This versatile veggie is chock-full of folate, Vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium, and makes a heavenly combination with dairy and egg—try it steamed or grilled with your morning eggs, or as an ingredient in quiches and creamy pastas.
Packed full of Vitamins C and E, antioxidants and essential fatty acids, avocadoes are one of the world’s healthiest foods. Whip one up with some Greek yoghurt, lemon juice, and a little sweet chilli or Tabasco sauce, and dip your way to health and happiness.
Available all year but at their best between April and June, and August and October, Australian bananas are chock-full of dietary fibre, Vitamins C and B6 and potassium. For a fast burst of natural energy, just grab one, peel and go—and go and go.
Beans (butter, flat, green, snake)
Rich in Vitamin C and a great source of fibre, folate and iron, these tasty legumes have got what you need to stay fighting fit and on top of your game. Beans are very versatile and can be steamed, stir-fried, boiled, steamed or eaten raw—try a hearty salad of steamed green beans, toasted almonds and feta, enjoy broad beans mashed with pea and mint on toast, or make a deliciously rich stew with butter beans.
High in magnesium and folate, and a good source of potassium, Vitamins A, B6 and C, antioxidants and soluble fibre, beetroot has a sweet, earthy taste that makes it a very versatile veggie. They can be made into cakes, vitamin-packed juices, soups (such as that Polish and Russian favourite, borscht), or grated raw into salads—and it wouldn’t be an Aussie hamburger or salad sandwich without a thick, juicy layer of beetroot!
They are only small but these little berries are loaded with powerful antioxidants that will have you glowing from the inside out. Just a handful of blueberries a day can help keep cancer and diabetes at bay, boost your brain power, protect your heart, improve your vision and even keep you young—not to mention make your taste buds and tummy very happy! Try whipping up a nutritious batch of buckwheat blueberry pancakes for breakfast and you’ll have a smile on your dial all day.
Like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, cabbage is another member of the super-good-for-you brassica family. Enjoy red, white, green or savoy cabbages boiled, baked, steamed, sautéed, stuffed or raw, but remember that when cooking any variety of cabbage it is best to do so briefly, as overcooking will cause it to smell and lose its delicious flavour. Savoy cabbage is a treat in Asian cuisine—try it in stir-fries with ginger and garlic.
All capsicums start off green with a lovely sharp, peppery flavour, which mellows and becomes increasingly sweet as they ripen to yellow, orange and red. Capsicums can be eaten raw or cooked, and are used in many Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Thai and Chinese dishes—try them in stir-fries, on pizzas, in paella and pasta sauces, or stuffed with couscous and roasted.
Cheap, versatile and high in beta-carotene, carrots have a lovely natural sweetness that makes them at home in any number of sweet or savoury dishes—from carrot cake and juice, to coleslaw and salads, soups, stews, curries and stir-fries. They can be used raw, boiled, steamed, sautéed and baked, will caramelise beautifully when roasted, and make a heavenly combination with butter, honey and thyme.
Cherries start hitting the Market shelves around October and hang around until February. Bursting with Vitamin C, potassium, dietary fibre and antioxidants, cherries can be divided into three main groups: sweet, sour and hybrid. The best way to eat sweet cherries is fresh, while sour cherries make fantastic pies, tarts, cakes and sauces.
Once you fall in love with chilli it’s hard to go without the fiery touch it lends to dishes from all over the world—it’s great in Mexican salsa, Indian and Thai curries and Chinese Szechuan dishes, and lifts Italian pasta sauces to another level. For a hot chocolate with a special kick, split a fresh red chilli lengthwise and remove the seeds, then add it to the saucepan when heating the milk and remove before serving.
Best value from December to May, cucumbers have been grown for thousands of years in India, where they make a delicious and cooling accompaniment to hot curries when combined with yoghurt and spices as raita. They were also much loved by the Romans and Ancient Greeks, and are essential ingredients in tzatziki and Greek salads—but while they are best enjoyed raw, cucumbers can also be steamed, stir-fried, stuffed and baked, or made into soup.
Although native to South East Asia, the eggplant is grown all over the world and is the star ingredient in a number of iconic dishes, including the Middle Eastern dip baba ghanoush, Greek moussaka, Thai curries, North African tagines and the Italian eggplant parmagiana. If you are planning to fry eggplant, it is a good idea to salt it first, as this rids it of excess moisture and prevents it from soaking up too much oil—simply sprinkle a generous amount of salt on the cut surfaces and leave for at least 20 minutes before rinsing off and patting dry.
Native to the Middle East and Mediterranean, the fig is a heavenly fruit that is positively bursting with health benefits. Sweet and juicy with a delectable flavour and velvety texture, figs are rich in dietary fibre, potassium and antioxidants such as Vitamins A, E and K. There is any number of dessert recipes involving figs (including simply baking them with brown sugar and a touch of butter and serving with cream), but they are a revelation in savoury dishes, such as in salads with blue cheese and toasted walnuts, baked into tarts with goat’s curd and caramelised onion, or even added to pizza with pancetta.
Need a quick energy lift? Put down the candy jar and pick up a bunch of grapes instead. Not only are grapes full of slow-release carbohydrates that will keep the pep in your step for longer, but they are also rich in fibre, health-boosting antioxidants, Vitamin C and potassium. Best of all, grapes are sweet, juicy and absolutely delicious, and work equally well in any number of sweet and savoury dishes—try them on pizza or in a salad with blue cheese and toasted walnuts.
Leeks were enjoyed in Egypt as far back as 3000BC and were especially popular with the Romans, who are thought to have introduced them to Europe. Leeks have similar immune-boosting properties to onions, but their milder flavour means they are never overpowering. Fry sliced leek and use as a garnish for Asian dishes, try them in delicious creamy bakes or pastas, or whip up a classic potato and leek soup.
Tangy and fragrant limes add a zingy and refreshing touch to everything from drinks to desserts, and can be used to naturally enhance the flavour of other food. Because they also pack a mighty punch of Vitamin C, lime juice was given to English sailors on long sea voyages to stop them getting scurvy, which is how they became known as ‘Limeys’. Limes are very popular in Mexican, South American, Indian and South East Asian cuisine—try them in Thai curries and seafood dishes, or adding their juice to dips such as guacamole and aioli.
As if being oh so unbelievably sweet and tasty wasn’t enough, mangoes are packed with fibre and potassium, have more beta-carotene than any other fruit, and contain up to three times the recommended daily intake of Vitamins C and A. The Australian season runs from September to March, with many different varieties available during this time—and as well as being great in any number of desserts, particularly when paired with passionfruit, mangoes make lovely complement to seafood dishes, particularly those with Asian flavours.
Melons (Honeydew, Rockmelon, Watermelon)
Though very different in many ways, watermelon, rockmelon and honeydew melon are all equally delicious and nutritious. Rockmelon and watermelon are both rich in the immune-boosting Vitamins A and C, while watermelon is also a good source of iron and the powerful cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene. Honeydew is also high in Vitamin C, and all three melons contain potassium. Honeydew makes deliciously creamy smoothies and cocktails, and rockmelon partners well with shellfish and prosciutto, and while watermelon can also be served in any number of creative ways, on hot summer days a wedge of this sweet, juicy treat is a little slice of heaven.
Mushrooms are magnificent—they are one of the few natural sources of Vitamin D and the only fresh non-animal food source of Vitamin B12. They also contain cancer-fighting antioxidants, folate and a range of B-Vitamins that may help to relieve stress, depression and fatigue. The many varieties of mushrooms lend themselves to any number of different dishes—woodears give a wonderful chewy texture to soups and stir-fries, portabellas are delicious stuffed and roasted, and button mushrooms are heavenly when sautéed with garlic, butter and thyme. Ask a friendly Trader for tips on the best way to prepare a certain variety.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for nectarines! Like peaches, this sweet and juicy fruit is high in Vitamins C and E, fibre and potassium and also comes in white and yellow varieties. Nectarines are a real treat to eat on their own and make delightful desserts, but they also add a real zing to savoury dishes—try them roasted in salads with fresh rocket, pomegranate seeds and feta, or made into salsa and served with chicken, pork or seafood.
Okra originated from Africa and is very popular in Indian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Southern American cuisine, where it is a traditional ingredient in gumbo. Given its widespread appeal, it’s no surprise that okra lends itself to a wide variety of dishes, including curries, stir-fries, soups and stews—try sautéing it in oil with garlic, onion cumin and turmeric.
Native to Asia, onions are a vital ingredient in recipes all over the world. Regularly eating onions lowers the risk of heart disease and may protect against certain types of cancer, and it’s easy to do because there is almost no end to the savoury dishes that can be improved by adding onion—from soups, stews, casseroles, stir-fries and curries to tarts, omelettes, pasta sauces and pizza toppings. White and red onions generally have the mildest flavour, and brown onions the strongest.
Like many other citrus fruits, oranges originated in Asia, between southwest China and northwest India, before being brought to Europe by the Portuguese. On the way to Australia, the First Fleet stopped in at Brazil to stock up on oranges, and planted orange trees within days of settling on our shores. Valencias oranges are the best for juicing!
Papaya has a beautiful rosy flesh with yellow-orange skin and a subtle, sweet flavour. Papayas are rich in Vitamin C and a good source of beta-carotene, which is an important antioxidant for maintaining healthy skin and eyes as well as general wellbeing. At breakfast, combining papaya with low-fat dairy, such as in a smoothie or atop Greek yoghurt, not only makes for a nutritious and delicious start to the day, but can also increase the amount of beta-carotene you absorb from the fruit. Green papaya is often used in Asian cuisine and is a refreshing complement to chicken and seafood.
January to July is the best time to buy passionfruit, which are rich in beta-carotene and Vitamin C, and have the highest source of dietary fibre, riboflavin, niacin and iron of any fruit. Passionfruit can be added to juices or smoothies, is a delicious and healthy way to start the day with Greek yoghurt on cereals or porridge, is an essential ingredient in every truly sensational fruit salad, and its slightly tart seeds make it the perfect foil for the sweetness of pavlova.
When these little beauties are in season everything is just peaches and cream—or at least peaches and yoghurt. This is one of the most popular fruits in the world, and for good reason—peaches smell and taste absolutely gorgeous. They are also high in Vitamin C and fibre, and although their sweetness means they make delicious desserts, they also partner well with seafood and are great in salads—try adding grilled peach slices to a salad of rocket, king prawns and avocado.
Pears (Howell, Williams,
High in fibre with a low glycaemic index (GI), pears deliver a powerful punch of long-lasting energy and are delicious served in both sweet and savoury dishes. Try them poached with ice cream or on porridge, serve them with cheese or in a salad, or just take a bite for a healthy snack on the go.
High in Vitamins C and B6, manganese and potassium, pineapples are a sweet and healthy way to kick sugar cravings to the curb. Their tangy taste also makes pineapples great in pork and chicken dishes—they even contain an enzyme that can help to tenderise the meat—and on the barbecue as part of a veggie and prawn kebab. Once picked, pineapples won’t get any sweeter and are best eaten within a few days—ask a Trader for help if you don’t know how to pick a ripe one.
Their are two main varieties of plums—European, which are oval or oblong in shape and range in colour from pink to purple; and Japanese, which range in colour from yellow to red and are more round or heart shaped. But whichever variety you go for, plums are a yummy low-calorie source of fibre and slow-release energy, making them a great snack to tide you over between meals. A healthy breakfast of fresh or poached plums on porridge is not only a delicious way to start the day, it will also keep your tank full until lunch.
Don’t be a tater hater because spuds aren’t duds! Potatoes contain antioxidants, fibre, more potassium than bananas and almost half of the recommended daily intake for Vitamin C—however, these and other wonderful nutritional benefits are lost or negated when they are deep-fried or hidden under mounds of cheese, butter and sour cream. Keep spuds healthy by roasting them in garlic, herbs and a little olive oil, adding boiled potatoes to a fresh light salad and tossing with vinaigrette, or including them in stews, curries and soups.
Pretty, pink and peppery, radishes are a crunchy delicacy that, as well as being high in immune-boosting Vitamin C, contain other disease-fighting compounds thought to slow or stop the growth of several cancers. Raw radishes have a piquant flavour that adds a real mustardy kick to salads and cheese plates, and when roasted their sugars caramelise beautifully. And don’t overlook out the green leaves, which can be used to add heat to salads and soups.
Rambutans are native to Malaysia and get their name from the Malay word rambut, meaning ‘hairy’, thanks to the long red tendrils attached to their skin. They have a juicy, white flesh similar to lychees and can be enjoyed in similar ways—they are best eaten fresh on their own or in fruit salads and smoothies, but can also be poached in syrup or added to kebabs, stir-fries and curries.
Although available all year, when buying raspberries you get the best bang for your buck from December to February. This super summer treat is known as ‘the king of the berries’ and it packs a right royal punch of dietary fibre and Vitamin C. Raspberries also have a ruby red hue and mouth-watering flavour that will jazz up everything from breakfast cereals to pavlovas and custard tarts, and their slight tartness goes particularly well with the sweetness of cream and chocolate—try sprinkling fresh raspberries on chocolate mousse.
Rhubarb is rich in iron, folate and Vitamins A, B6 and C, but is too tart to be eaten raw. However, rhubarb’s juicy stalks can be made into gorgeous jams and sauces, and is a match made in heaven with apples in pies, muffins and crumbles. Before cooking, make sure you cut off and discard the leaves as they are poisonous and should not be eaten.
Snow and Sugar Snap Peas
Munching on these yummy peas is like popping multi-vitamin pills—except better, because they are fresh, natural and you can eat the packaging!—due to their high levels of Vitamin C, potassium, fibre, protein, folate and beta-carotene. Snow and sugar snap peas feature prominently in Asian dishes and they are also popular in France and England, where they are called mangetout. They can be enjoyed raw in salads or cooked, but be careful not to overdo it—they don’t need long to become tender so adding them at the last minute to curries and stir-fries is best.
Spinach packs a powerful punch of fibre, folate and beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against sun damage, heart disease and cancer. Among the many virtues of this green are its soft, juicy leaves and strong flavour that goes beautifully with dairy and eggs—try a yummy ricotta and spinach pie or add it to your scrambled eggs.
Spring onions are in fact very young onions harvested before the bulb has swollen. The green shoots have a mild and delicate flavour, which intensifies as you reach the white bulbs, and both can be enjoyed either raw or cooked—try combining uncooked spring onion with chicken, mayonnaise and celery in sandwiches, using it as a garnish for soup, or adding it to stir-fries.
Forget expensive beauty creams and hair products—a handful of berries a day is all you need for glowing skin and luscious locks. Vitamin pills, too, can be discarded in favour of the real thing, because berries are jam-packed (pun intended!) with antioxidants to keep your immune system in top-notch fighting form and have you radiating good health. There is a bountiful supply of freshly picked strawberries at the Market every day during the warmer months, so make the most of the budget-friendly prices and scatter them on your breakfast, make fresh strawberry smoothies, or include them in summer fruit salads and enjoy with natural yoghurt, a drizzle of honey and fresh mint for dessert.
Next time you’re at a barbecue surrounded by fatty store-bought burgers and sausages, and mayonnaise-heavy pasta salads, re-think your options and reach for the healthy choice—a delicious, golden ear of char-grilled corn on the cob. With about as many calories as an apple and less than a quarter of the sugar, sweetcorn contains slow-release carbohydrates for long-lasting energy as well as Vitamin C and potassium. Corn has been growing for thousands of years in the Americas, in the area from Brazil to southern Canada, and is a major component of Mexican cuisine, where they also enjoy char-grilled corn on the cob (with smoky fresh lime and chilli mayonnaise and Cotija cheese) as the popular street food, elote.
Tomatoes may look pretty, but they don’t shy away from a fight—at least, not when it comes to free radicals, inflammation, heart disease and many cancers. These little beauties are loaded with Vitamins A, B, C and E, potassium and fibre, and also contain a powerful antioxidant, lycopene, which will all have you glowing with health from the inside out. Native to western South America, tomatoes have been staple ingredients in Mexican dishes for the past 2000 years, but their incredible flavour and versatility has seen them embraced by different cultures all around the world, and they have become essential in Mediterranean cuisine—try them raw, baked, stewed, fried or pureed in everything from salads, soups to stews and sauces.